Almost a little late, the album’s been released over 3 weeks ago already – but could I do without a review here?? So how are these 13 songs (+1 reprise) in nearly one hour on the first Queen-titled studio album of the post-Freddie-Mercury era?
No doubt: It’s not what you’d expect from what’s usually called a Queen album. Of course, without Freddie. It is “only” a rock album with Brian May and his guitar and Roger Taylor and his drums plus Paul Rodgers and his voice who luckily doesn’t try to imitate Freddie, but got his own strengths; one could only criticize the use of “Queen” in the name here, but, well, it’s also a matter of popularity and marketing…
Now let’s get to the individual songs:
- Cosmos Rockin’
After a short intro, the boys let – matching the album title – everything rock, from house to town to world to the cosmos – a solid rocking opener for the album.
- Time To Shine
An encouraging little piece of rock (topic-wise), not too hard, not too balladic, with a good rhythm – and I could easily imagine it on one of the The Cross albums1 as well as by Paul alone without the Queen rest…
- Still Burnin’
A bluesy rocker with a “Queen-ish” chorus; the latter might use even a little more power. Anyway, if you’re sitting/standing still during this song, something might be wrong with you.
Calm but powerful, this mostly acoustic song (but supported by electric guitar) with a catchy chorus. “Everyone needs a place they can hide, Hide away find a space to be alone.”
Matching its title, this song got lots of snare drums (like military marches have) and offers “wild” guitar sounds (and a few war sounds) without being too hard – a quite successful combination.
- We Believe
Add a few more singers and you got a “we need peace etc. for all” song like “We Are The World”, and accordingly overly melodramatic without shining that much in other areas; the weakest song on the album for me.
- Call Me
One can easily imagine the boys sitting around the campfire and playing this happy song. Alright, let’s say jam session, for you hardly take drums and electric guitar to a campfire. — “Now I’m gonna settle down, get myself a wife or two…”
A quiet but strong blues number – and the song that I could least imagine with Freddie. One of the best songs here.
- Some Things That Glitter
A rather harmonic ballad, also considering vocals/guitar/drums – but somehow I’m missing something, though I can’t tell exactly what…
The comparatively hard-rocking criticism of casting shows and celebrity wannabes was already the first “real” single release2 – more than just fairly done and with interesting variations; maybe sounds a bit better (especialy in the chorus) when played a little faster live.
- Through The Night
A slightly contemplative but beautiful ballad with Brian’s guitar (and Paul’s voice, of course).
- Say It’s Not True
The song about Aids already played years ago on the Nelson Mandela concert, now in the studio version with Roger and Brian starting quietly, then Paul and the music entering with power – both kinds of the song are working somehow.
- Surf’s Up… School’s Out!
The intro is growig into a fun rocker with driving beat and low instrumentation in the verses and power outside of them – “Surf’s up, school’s out, follow that dream…
- Small (Reprise)
The sea noises are leading over to a short reprise of track 4, rounding off the album nicely.
Conclusion: The three old gentleman are nicely complementing one another (albeit not always 100% perfectly), and the result is a great rock album on which maybe not all songs are mega-hits, but altogether a nice selection, and anyone who likes this style of music should at least have a listen.
That also applies to the die-hard Queen fans who shout “boo” already when hearing Paul’s name and steer clear of this album just for having “Queen” on the cover but no Freddie inside – you’d miss something!
Image (album cover) from queenonline.com.