Queen – The Works (1984): Review

Queen_The_Works

Produced by Queen, Mack
Label – EMI/Parlophone

“Let’s give them the works” said Drummer Roger Taylor at the resumption of collaborations during 1983. Maybe as a result of the less than glorious critical reaction to the band’s previous offering “Hot Space”, the band took a break from the continuous cycle of album/tour and an opportunity to venture into solo and side projects with varying degrees of success. The band still looked for the type of divergent sound heralded at the start of the decade on the ground breaking “The Game” album, and re-employed Reinhold Mack for production duties. It’s certainly an improvement on “Hot Space”, containing some outstanding singles, but there are some gaping inconsistencies in quality, a theme which dogged most of their 80’s material.

queen

When Taylor overheard his young son saying ‘Radio ca ca’, it was the ideal inspiration for his take on the demise of popular Radio. Freddie Mercury persuaded him to change the ‘ca ca’ to ‘ga ga’ and so began the creation of one of the band’s most incredible singles. The song is dominated by a sensational dual synth and natural bass line, the anthemic rhythms and surging chorus work perfectly to create a synth rock classic, and one of the bands’ live staples for the rest of their career. The John Deacon (bass) penned “I Want To Break Free” is pure uninhibited pop/rock at its finest, largely supported by a powerful Mercury vocal performance. “Hammer To Fall” written by Brian May returns the band to their pure rock roots, with a thunderous riff and May’s surprisingly assured vocals on life and death. By contrast, the rockabilly “Man On The Prowl” attempts to re-create the thrill of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, but ends up more reminiscent of Shakin’ Stevens. “Machines (Or ‘Back To Humans’)” a synth and Fairlight electro rock number sounds like a group of musicians grappling with new technology for the first time, and Roger Taylor’s vocoder doesn’t help. At least the album closes solidly with the acoustic call for a better world in “Is This The World We Created…?”.

The faithful would celebrate a small musical escape from the horror of “Hot Space”, and although “The Works” is a long way short of their best, they’re at least back on track.

7/10

Track Listing
1. “Radio Ga Ga” 5:44
2. “Tear It Up” 3:28
3. “It’s a Hard Life” 4:08
4. “Man on the Prowl” 3:28
5. “Machines (Or ‘Back to Humans’)” 5:10
6. “I Want to Break Free” 3:20
7. “Keep Passing the Open Windows” 5:21
8. “Hammer to Fall” 4:28
9. “Is This the World We Created…?” 2:13

Radio Ga Ga

I Want To Break Free

Hammer To Fall

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