Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Album of the Day #151: NEWS OF THE WORLD - Queen

Artist: Queen

Title: News Of The World
Label: Elektra
Year: 1977
Songs: We Will Rock You*/We Are The Champions**/Sheer Heart Attack***/All Dead, All Dead*/Spread Your Wings+/Fight From The Inside***/Get Down, Make Love**/Sleeping On The Sidewalk*/Who Needs You+/It's Late*/My Melancholy Blues**
Written by: *Brian May, **Freddie Mercury, ***Roger Taylor and +John Deacon
Produced by: Queen (assisted by Mike Stone)
Thoughts: I suppose eventually I had to review a Queen record.
News Of The World is pretty much an album that sums up everything Queen ever was, which is a group of competent musicians and an over-the-top vocalist who could turn the most mundane track into a hit single. Right from the start, we get the one-two punch of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions", two songs so inseparable from each other that rock stations never play one without the other.
The album follows the formula set forth on other Queen albums (at least the ones I've heard) where the writing credits are rather democratic and it's obvious who wrote what. Mercury has the more bizarre, theatrical tracks with the embarrassingly explicit (although, pretty ingenious musically) "Get Down, Make Love", the depressing curtain-closer "My Melancholy Blues" and "We Are The Champions". Guitarist May provides the obvious guitar-oriented tracks, although his "All Dead, All Dead" is so bad that I always want to skip it. It's just far too depressing and agrivating, compared to the rest of the album. Thankfully though, he makes up for it, with easily the best song on the album and its' climax, "It's Late". Plus, he's got "We Will Rock You" and the forgettable "Sleeping On The Sidewalk". The quiet bassist Deacon provides the "Spread Your Wings", a song only Mercury could sing, and the Latin-flavored "Who Needs You". Then you have drummer Taylor, whose problem is that he is trying a little too hard to be a hard rocker. "Sheer Heart Attack" is good because Mercury is singing it (albeit a little too fast), but his vocal outing on "Fight From The Inside" is an obvious attempt at a Robert Plant imitation (and a pretty bad one at that).
Overall, the album is a sum of it's parts. As I said, there are some really fantastic songs, some clunkers and some that fall in the middle. Buy it on vinyl, because the CD issue misses half the album cover, which was done by the awesome Sci-Fi artist Frank Kelly Freas.

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