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Queen - News Of The World CD (album) cover




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3.25 | 532 ratings

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3 stars I must confess that I'd never taken much notice of Queen before I bought this album. Oh, sure, I was as impressed as the next guy with the obvious greatness of "Bohemian Rhapsody" but I didn't really give them another thought once the next tune came on the radio. Then one day in the Fall of 1977 I heard "It's Late" for the first time and I knew I had to have that epic rocker in my collection ASAP. Basically a power trio behind an incredible lead vocal and huge choral harmonies, the song possesses an all engines full steam ahead attitude that I craved but rarely found in those disco-dominated days. I consider it Brian May's most explosive guitar solo ever and one of the earliest examples of the then mysterious "tapping" technique. Once I slapped this album down on my turntable I found that, though it's a tad inconsistent, it has some really good stuff on it. I know that Mr. May simply meant to write an audience participation tune that would liven up their concerts when he came up with "We Will Rock You." But there's no possible way he could have envisioned what an international anthem it would become and turn it into the most recognizable crowd chant on the planet. And then comes the second half of the double punch. If you pay attention to the words of Freddie Mercury's "We Are the Champions" you know that it never mentions anything about a team. I know he was quoted as saying he had English football in mind when he wrote it but I think he also refers to his band when he sings "it's been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise" on their long trek to the top of the heap. Yet it doesn't come off as gloating, just a statement of fact and perhaps that's why it's so universally accepted as an ode to honest achievement. When all is said and done it's a well-composed song performed and sung brilliantly. I also like Mercury's raw "Get Down, Make Love." It's an unconventional, sexually charged track that's angry in tone rather than romantic. Very intense and menacing but a fun ride all the same. May's "All Dead, All Dead" is another treat. This song about a cat he loved as a child has an interesting arrangement and some nice layered guitar lines that make it stand out. His smoky blues shuffle, "Sleeping on the Sidewalk," lays down a nice groove and shows off his versatility, as well. Bassist John Deacon contributes the lively tropical and rhythmic "Who Needs You" but his predictable ballad, "Spread Your Wings," is flat as a cookie sheet. The low points of the album (by far) are drummer Roger Taylor's excruciating "Sheer Heart Attack" and "Fight From the Inside." I fully understand that the punk rock movement was starting to influence everybody at the time and that the group felt compelled to offer a more "back to basics" sound on this record but there's no excuse for these terrible songs being included. They are so rancid they cast a pall on the whole album like two big red blemishes. Freddie ends the album with a pleasant, nostalgic piano tune, "My Melancholy Blues," in which he croons prophetically "My guess is I'm in for cloudy and overcast/don't try and stop me/'cause I'm heading for that stormy weather soon." Fateful words, indeed.

Not much in the way of prog-related music to be found on this one but there are some outstanding tracks to enjoy, for sure. Queen tried to show the fickle, "any way the wind blows" critics who said they were too pompous and overproduced that they could peel away some layers and be more "real." The result is a mixed bag of diamonds, rock specimens and a few dirt clods.

Chicapah | 3/5 |


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