Queen, A Kind of Magic

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 09.15.11 in Reviews

A Kind Of Magic


Although America had cooled on Queen in the mid ’80s, the band experienced a second surge in popularity throughout the rest of the world following its legendary 1985 Live Aid appearance; a performance so galvanizing it was in 2005 voted by music industry insiders to be the greatest live gig ever. 1986′s A Kind of Magic continues down the thoughtful path forged by ’84′s The Works with a largely inferior payoff: Although Roger Taylor’s title track betters his own “Radio Ga Ga” by employing a lighter touch, the opening riff-rocker “One Vision” gets ham-fisted with its rewrite of the previous album’s “Hammer to Fall” John Deacon’s “One Year of Love” mimics ’80s easy-listening ballads so accurately that you’d swear it was recorded by Air Supply if not for Mercury’s far richer cry.

Back on the right path, but with a largely inferior payoff

This time Brain May pulls the rabbit out of the hat: His “Who Wants to Live Forever” also firmly adheres to ’80s power ballad formula — big drums, even bigger orchestra, and a positively massive crescendo. Akin to “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls and Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” it’s nevertheless so emotionally rich that it transcends its familiar design. Mercury charges into its melodrama like a bull confronts a matador, and the protracted denouement that follows his exit is presciently eerie, as if May knew something Mercury’s doctors hadn’t yet discovered.