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INNUENDO

Queen

 

Prog Related

3.87 | 368 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Innuendo, Queen, 1990

I have to admit, as an at best partial devotee of Queen, Innuendo was basically a blind selection (I was completely unaware of the background, or how respected it was)... saw it in a store, picked it up. I also have to admit it's probably got more good songs on it than any album from 1990 has a right to. It being Queen, the vocals, guitar-work and most of the basic melodies are top notch, there are interesting ideas all around. It being Queen, the more meaningful the lyrics are trying to be, the more they annoy me. But there's a flaw I wouldn't have attributed to the other Queen material I've heard (Greatest Hits 1,2, 3, Queens I+II)... just about anywhere that something is repeated or not a lot is happening, something (generally a nonsense sound) is thrown in, even if a tasteful rest would have been fine. Most of said somethings are entirely unimpressive. Still, a good album, even if I can't help feeling that with a little less superfluous polish, the real qualities of the album would shine through far more.

Innuendo is big. Not only does it last about six and a half minutes, throw in surprisingly hard guitar tones and include the most rough and belting vocals of the album, it also features militaristic drumming and a damn flamenco interlude (courtesy of Steve Howe). OK, the lyrics aren't great, the drumming is a bit too lethargic for me, and a more defined set of keys wouldn't hurt but any song with that great a trio of guitar solos (May's reprise of Howe's flamenco theme is just amazing) is at least a minor classic.

Kicking onwards, pop song 1: I'm Going Slightly Mad is a wonderfully crazy little pop number, complemented by a rather odd synth atmosphere, some weird and wonderful guitar tweaks and an exceptional warped cabaret-sounding Mercury vocal. Headlong is a lot heavier, doesn't quite manage the same atmospheric pull, the major highlight is the trippy synth part in the instrumental break... the piece seems to be padded a bit beyond its potential, but it's still a fun song.

I Can't Live With You... well, no idea how to classify this one, Mercury's vocal twists and turns like a twisty turny thing and it is just perfect. It sort of seems to alternate between a darker bluesy part and a pop  chorus and then a slightly queasy set of guitar solos. A reserved yes. Don't Try So Hard is a fairly bland bit of Mercury pseudo-preaching which slips into the unbearably dim category... musically speaking, the verses are basically nice with a charming little guitar bit, smooth synths and a lush vocal, while the choruses/verse extensions are basically cheap and tacky. A reserved no.

And onto rock song 2: Ride The Wild Wind, which alternates between basically asinine and insanely cool... the driving main rhythm, the vocal twists at the end of that basically daft chorus are delicious, the guitar soloing is great. I'd guess I like the good bits just about enough to forgive how long the bad bits go on. All God's People, On The Other Hand, is a soul-based track, which seems to assume you'll be wowed enough by May pulling out his trademark guitar sound and Mercury's vocal to forgive the limp harmonies and rather odious backbone of the song. Have to admit I'm a bit fonder of the heavier bits, but still, I can certainly live without this one. These Are The Days Of Our Lives is a rather better soft piece constructed around a worldy set of percussion, and the lyrics aren't trying so hard and prove much more simply touching. May's guitar parts are just gorgeous here.

Delilah is basically daft. I think you can't make a great song out of one guitar-miaow. Cute as the whole cat theme is, it remains a silly song. But still, a fairly nice silly song. I just find it difficult to be angry at a song about cats. We are a cat person.

Huzzah, now, Hitman. A surprisingly cutting guitar riff, which can basically hold up the song alone in combination with the neat mass vocal chorus. Well, I don't feel the vocal is the album's most creative, but it fits it nicely, and there isn't all that much diversity, but it doesn't really hurt it.

And even better, Bijou, which is basically a gorgeous May solo thrown over some very loose keyboard chords, plus a short and sweet vocal. Just about perfect. But even better, now, what we've all been waiting for, easily, easily the album's best song: The Show Must Go On. Haunting, dark vocals, precise fills and bass parts, an array of menacing synthesisers, weeping, but tremendously potent guitar... an entirely appropriate set of lyrics... it's simply an incredible song.

So, a variety of stuff, both in style and quality, and while there are a few things about Queen in general and this album in particular that annoy me, it's still generally very strong, and for the last two songs alone deserves a comfortable three stars. An altogether good album, and, even if you wouldn't consider yourself a big Queen fan (I don't), you could do worse than picking up Innuendo. Rating: Three Stars, 10/15 or so Favourite Track: The Show Must Go On

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |

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