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Queen A Kind Of Magic album cover
3.06 | 438 ratings | 13 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. One Vision (5:08)
2. Kind Of Magic (4:23)
3. One Year Of Love (4:26)
4. Pain Is So Close To Pleasure (4:19)
5. Friends Will Be Friends (4:07)
6. Who Wants To Live Forever (5:13)
7. Gimme The Prize (Kurgan's Theme) (4:32)
8. Don't Lose Your Head (4:35)
9. Princes Of The Universe (3:30)

Total time 40:13

Bonus tracks on 1986 CD release - "Extra Magical Ingredients" :
10. A Kind Of 'A Kind Of Magic' (3:38)
11. Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends... (5:58)
12. Forever (piano version of track 6) (3:21)

Bonus tracks on 1991 remaster:
10. Forever (piano version of track 6) (3:20)
11. One Vision (Extended version) (6:23)

Line-up / Musicians

- Freddie Mercury / lead & backing vocals, piano, synths, sampler (1,4,5)
- Brian May / electric guitars, keyboards (1,6), lead vocals & programming (6), orchestral arranger (6)
- John Deacon / bass, electric guitar (4,5,8), keyboards & sampler & programming (3,4)
- Roger Taylor / drums, electronic drums (1), keyboards (2,8), programming (1,8), backing vocals

- The National Philharmonic Orchestra (6)
- Michael Kamen / orchestration & conducting (6)
- Lynton Naiff / string arranger & conductor (3)
- Spike Edney / keyboards (5,8)
- Steve Gregory / alto saxophone (3)
- Joan Armatrading / vocals (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Chiasson

CD EMI - CDP 7 46267 2 (1986, UK) With 3 bonus tracks
CD Hollywood Records - HR-61152-2 (1991, US) Remastered by Eddy Schreyer with 2 bonus tracks
CD Parlophone - CDPCSD 136 (1994, UK) Remastered
CD Island Records - 277 997 1 (2011, Europe) New 2011 Bob Ludwig remaster

Thanks to tuxon for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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QUEEN A Kind Of Magic ratings distribution

(438 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (21%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

QUEEN A Kind Of Magic reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Let's see if we can squeeze anything good of the famous band that went pop: the year is 1986. You're right, not much. Especially not much from the progressive rock point of view.

For the beginning, let us eliminate two awful fillers: "One Year Of Love" and "Pain Is So Close To Pleasure". Avoid these tracks at all costs. Give them a try only if you are fan of cheesy SPANDAU BALLET-like ballads.

Two down, nine to go. Let's move further: "One Vision", "A Kind Of Magic", "Friends Will Be Friends" and "Who Wants To Live Forever" were all present on the chart, and they are all well-known so I won't give them much attention here. The only exception here is "Who Wants To Live Forever", beautiful ballad (with slight touch of prog perhaps), and possibly the best song utilising Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. I'm not a big fan of digital technology and tiny, belly, plastic synth sounds, but these synth pads are just gorgeous and they work perfectly well here. This is the most well-known song from the movie "Highlander". However, this album is not a soundtracks in its entirety, but 4 songs were included in the motion picture, and "One Vision" was included (I think) in the movie "Iron Eagle".

One more fact, slightly off-topic: speaking of synthesizers in "Who Wants To Live Forever", I think that DX7 synth (along with Brian's guitar) represented the trademark of the QUEEN sound in the 80's in a same vain that Freddie's Bechstein piano in the 70's.

The remaining tracks were all included in the "Highlander movie": "Don't Lose Your Head", "Gimme The Prize" and "Princes Of The Universe". All of these are silly, heavy-metal-pop songs in the vain of POISON or EUROPE...oh my God. However, they are not bad at all, they are all high-quality pop tracks, with excellent guitar works from Mr. May, and 80's sound mannerism (that sounds nice to my ears simply because of nostalgic reasons). Brian is providing us solo on the guitar imitating Scottish bagpipes (aha!! prog-folk!! gotcha!), there are some sounds from the movie included (not in a terrible way like on "Flash Gordon"), and last but not the least, there are occasional spice of prog.

Bonus tracks are "Forever", lovely, piano-driven, instrumental version of "Who wants to live forever" and it is excellent. The extended version of "One Vision" is not to be confused with the "Blurred Vision", a B-side of "One Vision" maxi-single from 1985.

This album is essential if: you are a QUEEN fan, you are 80's heavy-pop fan, you are Christopher Lambert fan.

I really can't deny the fact that this album is a good one, actually. Not comparable to QUEEN peaks, but really an enjoyable listening. However, I won't rate it with three stars simply because it won't appeal to the most of the prog rock fans. Two and a half stars rounded to two, but these two are well-deserved ones. Not bad.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars To me, with the release of this album Queen had demonstrated a real decline in their career, musically. It's probably this album was a success commercially but as usual I did not pay attention to a commercial success. If it happens the music is good and commercially successful, ten it's really okay. Through "A Kind of Magic" Queen tried to proof their existence in pop and rock arena. Some songs featured here are industrial in nature - with many loops and programming. This is a good example that even with virtuosity in skills of its individual member there must be good vision and direction on the music which ties all core competence into one cohesive whole: good music and tight compositions. Of course, I'm not saying this is a bad album but it's definitely below the standard of their potentials. Some tracks with good lyrics include "One Vision" and "Friends Will Be Friends". Other tracks that I consider good are: "Gimme The Prize" which represents the classic sound of Queen through Brian's guitar work, and "Don't Lose Your Head". This track reminds me to Saga as the portion of keyboards is quite dominant and the music flows like in a loop fashion. "Princes of the Universe" is actually not a bad track at all.

Overall, I would not recommend you to buy this album unless you are a die hard fan of Queen. For this, I clearly understand as you might be wondering how the band sounds like a decade after its existence in rock music. Keep on rockin' ..!

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars After their great performance during the fantastic "Live Aid" concerts, one was expecting something better than such an album from "Queen".

The second soundtrack from the band. Slightly better than the awful "Flash Gordon" (but some people might tell you that it sucked so much that it was not difficult to do better). Surprisingly, the opening number "One Vision" will not appear on the "Highlander" movie but well on "Iron Eagle" released a year later. This is a typical "Queen" song : bombastic vocals, great chorus and a catchy melody. Fully pop- oriented as the following and title track. These songs don't belong to their most praised ones by their early fan database (but who from them are still fans in 1986? I wasn't any longer to be honest).

Mercury is just doing too much of a circus during "One year Of Love". Almost a pastiche of himself! Press next to avoid this syrupy and useless ballad (even if some good sax is featured). This album seriously lacks in great song writing, but of course there has been a long time since the band released a very good album, and this one is not even close to reach this level.

Mostly pop-oriented it holds some very weak songs : "Pain Is So Close" sounding as a poor Hall & Oates number. Press next. Pop is the word on this album, but I admit that "Friends Will Be Friends" holds many of the ingredients that made "Queen" famous. Some fine guitar notes are sustaining this good number after all. The last two songs were not featured in the movie.

This album is also more on the soft side than usual (at least these awful disco beats are mostly omitted). "Who Wants To Live Forever" is a very poignant song and even if heavy orchestrations are featured I succumb to its fantastic construction. Brilliant vocal section, atmospheric (but short) instrumental middle part and a bombastic final part ending rather smoothly. Did you say "Queen"?

I guess that by this time, one has the right to say : "Can Queen still rock"? Yes, they can. The heavy rock "Gimme The Prize" is there to prove this but this song is a weak example of their rocking angle. Totally uninspired.

The band reverts to their poor sound from the eighties with "Don't Lose Your Head". Electro beats full of synthetic sounds. Press next. Please. Some Rhapsody like vocals to start the closing Princes Of The Universe which is a good rock song where melody also plays an important role. This song brings us several years back in their repertoire. One of my fave from this average work. Needless to tell you that you shouldn't expect any prog in here. Maybe for their next album?

Two stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars "There can be only one!"

In the 70's Queen was primarily an albums band. They did release singles even back then, but the album was clearly the important format for them (as for most Rock bands in the 70's, especially for those with any progressive aspirations). In the 80's, however, Queen (again, like many other Rock bands in those times) transformed into more of a singles band. If I'm not mistaken, every track from this album was either an a-side or a b-side on a single! Further, as many as five of the album's nine tracks had music videos made for them! All this is strong evidence that the album format was not as important as singles and music videos at this time and, sadly, the album suffered somewhat as a result. However, there is a loose concept or common theme to several of the songs on A Kind Of Magic (due to the fact that these songs were written for the film Highlander) that helps to hold it together very well in the end.

The most obvious sign of the fact that the band put priority on making strong singles and music videos rather than making a strong album is the presence on this album of a few songs that do not stand up very well on their own. In the 70's the songs that were released as singles were almost never the most interesting or best songs, but in the 80's - and particularly so on the present album - this was clearly the case. Several of the songs from this album are very good and a few of them are even truly excellent!

The album opens on a high note with One Vision and closes in even stronger fashion with the powerful Princes Of The Universe. Who Wants To Live Forever is, however, the centerpiece of the album. This is a truly beautiful song! Brian May gets a rare vocal performance here at the start of the song and his voice fits in perfectly and blends very well with the much more powerful voice of Freddie. The vocals, the lyrics, the guitars, the drums and the full symphony orchestra make this track into a very powerful and emotional moment. This is simply a great symphonic power ballad, and a definitive Rock classic. A true masterpiece song! Friends Will Be Friends is a real arena anthem with a strong chorus and great guitar play and a great instrumental break and guitar solo. The vocals are, needless to say, simply excellent.

Even though several songs from this album were used in the film Highlander, only Gimme The Prize has obvious connections to the film, incorporating pieces of conversation from the movie. Otherwise, this song is the hardest rocking and most guitar oriented track on this album. Sadly, I think that the dialogue from the film is slightly distracting and takes away from what otherwise could have been a another great song. It does, however, have an amazing guitar driven passage that starts at 2:36 into the track. This part sounds like it is inspired by the music of the Scottish highlands i.e. the melody sounds Celtic. I really love that part! The title track, on the other hand, is not a big favourite of mine. The beat is a bit too static and funky for my tastes. However, the song is saved by some really great guitar work towards the end.

One Year Of Love, Pain Is So Close To Pleasure and Don't Lose Your Head are the least good songs here and they are among the least good songs Queen ever recorded. But in the context of the other songs here, they still work to my satisfaction. The first of these songs includes a saxophone part which is very unexpected on a Queen album. Needless to say, these songs bring the album down a bit. But thankfully, they are reasonably well hidden among the other, far better, songs.

This album is, admittedly, uneven. The cover art is quite awful too, which further distracts from its value. But the better songs are so good that I cannot but give this album a high rating despite the few weak moments.

A Kind Of Magic was the best Queen album since A Day At The Races and remain highly enjoyable for me today after many years of listening.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Queen at the peak, but the comercial peak not musicaly. Another chart album in Queen's career, another 2-3 pieces in top 100, money, money everywhere but what about the music. Not much about this album to talk about, at least from progressive perspectiv this is a zero album, in fact I stopped to judge a Queen album from prog view from Jazz from 1978, the last intristing album both for usual listner and for prog conoseurs aswell. From that album I only say my opinion as a usual listner, this time is Kind of magic from 1986. From here I can extract only 2-3 good pieces that I like:Don't Lose Your Head, Kind of Magic and One Vision, the rest are not realy bad, but totaly unintristing for my taste. Queen took a wrong path sincee The game, a pop orientation with some rock flovours here and there, with this album is no diffrent. So a 2 star album for me, weaker than The works and mmuch weaker then the next one The miracle. Fans only.
Review by Necrotica
3 stars After some of the disappointment caused by 1982's dance-influenced Hot Space and 1984's bland rehash The Works, Queen needed an album that would bring them back into the spotlight. While 1986's A Kind of Magic was mostly a return to form in retrospect, people weren't really convinced back then to buy it. The album only managed to go Gold in the U.S. (and for such a popular band like Queen, that was unheard of back then) and was widely considered another disappointment. So looking back on the record, did it really deserve these distinctions? Definitely not.

While A Kind of Magic is pretty inconsistent in spots, there's also some fantastic music going on here. Stylistically, Queen decided to take the "rehash formula" of The Works and expand upon it, also adding much more hard rock that was reminiscent of their 70s heyday. More importantly, it feels as though Queen sounded more fresh and inspired when it came to the songwriting and arrangements. Along with maintaining a nice array of varied riffs and more textural arrangements, there's some really heartfelt and beautiful stuff to offer as well. Essentially, this record represents the first step in pulling Queen out of the quicksand they put themselves in musically.

The album takes most of its lyrical inspiration from Highlander, giving many of the heavier tracks a more "epic" feel. This is mostly represented with songs such as the string-laden hard rock opener "One Vision," the slower and more distorted "Gimme the Prize," and album highlight "Princes of the Universe." The latter is particularly notable for featuring more of a heavy metal influence than the other songs, Brian May laying down some hard- hitting rhythm guitar work. The harmonized vocals are as fresh now as they were back then, providing those traditional bombastic arrangements we all know and love. "One Vision," while still rooted in 70s hard rock, begins drenched in lavish strings provided by a synthesizer played by Brian May. This gives a great backdrop for the rest of the song to build from, and the musicianship in the hard rock section that follows is as tight as ever.

The ballads can be hit-and-miss, but some are pretty great. I could go on for hours and hours about how good "Who Wants to Live Forever" is, for example. Beginning with a quiet, emotional verse sung by Brian May over a Yamaha keyboard, Freddie Mercury takes over on the next verse as the song builds steam. There's a really melancholic undertone to the piece, but once the chorus kicks in, sadness is all but forgotten. This is one of the great choruses in the history of rock music, combining beautiful harmonized vocal work from Freddie with a nicely orchestrated backdrop for said vocal melodies to follow. Once Brian May sings the final verse, "Who waits forever anyway," the song ends with food for thought for the listener and represents closure for a perfect piece of music. The other ballads can be good, but definitely don't reach the same level. "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure" and "Friends Will Be Friends" are your typical Queen affairs, and "One Year of Love" is just way too sappy at times, but the songs are at least serviceable ballads.

Unfortunately, the album is indeed very flawed. The ballads, as I said, are just kind of decent with one great exception, but two songs almost kill the album unless you're willing to look past them: the title track and "Don't Lose Your Head." The former is an extremely boring mid-tempo number that brings almost nothing to the table; it really feels like a B-side to The Works. The stretch from the middle to the end is particularly painful, with a bunch of melodies and vocal harmonies going absolutely nowhere while John Deacon just sits in the back and plays his bassline aimlessly. "Don't Lose Your Head" is also annoying, being an entirely forgettable dance number forged out of Hot Space's songwriting template. The vocals are a bit bland compared to Freddie's typical singing quality, and the programmed drum track just makes you wish for Roger Taylor to return to the kit as quickly as possible.

The reason this still gets a 3.5, though, is because the music that works well works REALLY well. The rockers are fantastic, the ballads range from decent to fantastic, and the music sounds like Queen returning to their old 70s glories with an 80s coat of paint. Despite some songs that almost derail this experience, I'd still recommend it. It's worth trudging through the flaws to get to the good stuff... or in this case, the wonderful stuff.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Review by Hector Enrique
3 stars Queen's legendary performance at "Live Aid" encouraged the band to return to the recording studios, and after two years of uncertainty about the band's continuity, they finally released "A Kind of Magic", their twelfth album, in 1986.

Best known for being the album that prompted what would end up being the band's last tour with Freddie Mercury and immortalised on 1992's "Live at Wembley", "A Kind of Magic" is made up of a handful of songs, many of which formed part of the soundtrack for the film "Highlander" and complemented by a few party rock songs, making up a hybrid mosaic that never quite came together as a unit.

The auspicious "One Vision", an energetic piece from start to finish, the festive and chanting rock of "Friends Will be Friends", the orchestrated and slightly cloying emotionality of "Who Wants to Live Forever" and the rocky forcefulness of "Princes of the Universe", the best track on the album by far, make up the album's most successful passages; and on the other hand, as a counterpart, the accessible "A Kind of Magic" of unthinkable vitality live, and tracks that do not fit in with the band's history and do not add much value, beyond the experimentations that Mercury was always so prone to, such as the soporific soul "One Year of Love" with sax included, "Pain is so Close to Pleasure" in Motown style, or the confused "Don't Lose Your Head".

Despite this unsynchronised duality, "A Kind of Magic" is a loveable album by Queen, who at that point in their career had already passed all the tests they had been subjected to for years, and hence its rating is always associated more with the emotional elements it generated than with an objective evaluation (if one can speak of objectivity in a matter of taste...).

2.5/3 stars

Latest members reviews

5 stars 1985 or the musical slap, the arrival of an album, the album of the year, that's good, it was necessary to help me pass my classes faster! 1 One Vision intro ... it's prog, that's CQFD; good the rise the air which will arrive, rock yes but rock with the inimitable QUEEN; Roger, John, Brian ensure ... (read more)

Report this review (#2312242) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8/10 I have to say: I love Queen too much to give low ratings for their albums. When I did, meant that they had reached rock bottom (to read Flash and Hot Space). But after a great shift in The Works they continue to enchant me with A Kind of Magic. This album is a sort of unofficial sound ... (read more)

Report this review (#744229) | Posted by voliveira | Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I just noticed, that after reviewing every sound Queen has slapped on record, I somehow missed this disc, a late 1980's Queen that was little by little trying to find their old sound. After their comeback in 1984 with The Works (and I say comeback because of the tragedy that was Hot Space in 198 ... (read more)

Report this review (#191008) | Posted by silversaw | Saturday, November 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I Really liked this album. It starts out with a great rocker "1 Vision". The rest is a little on the poppy and melodic side but the tunes are quite enjoyable. Side 2 of the album (Mostly the songs from Highlander) were great and powerful songs as well. From the power ballad "Who Wants To Live F ... (read more)

Report this review (#58001) | Posted by | Saturday, November 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This album is quite ordinary. Very 80s pop sounding, because that's all it really is. This is the bad side of Queen, when they went synth crazy, not that synth's are necessarily bad however Queen here are going for a heavy sound on most tracks and the core of the music, in which everything is ... (read more)

Report this review (#41393) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Well, I like parts of this album. However the first half is mostly pop garbage filler, except for Friends will be friends, which is still pop, but its better. However this album is not prog in any way. The second half dominates. All these songs were used as the Soundtrack to Highlander, a ... (read more)

Report this review (#41055) | Posted by | Sunday, July 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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