Great Rock Albums of 1986: Queen- A Kind of Magic

220px-Queen_A_Kind_Of_Magic

Originally, I had forgotten about this album and I was ready to go charging boldly forward to the metal portion of 1986. However, one follower sent me an email requesting I visit the album, which I have now done. Thinking back to that time, I was quick to use the ‘selling out’ branding iron on artists I thought were sounding too commercial. After all, I had already branded 38 Special, Van Halen and Huey Lewis and the News as sell outs and in my view, Queen were already heading in that direction with “Radio Ga-ga” from their previous album. So, when I heard the single, “A Kind of Magic,” I naturally assumed Queen were selling out. How wrong I was!

If anything, the 1986 “A Kind of Magic” album is a slap in the face to what the music industry was doing at the time. People wanted to put artists into nice, neat little boxes, be it synth pop, rap or heavy metal or whatever else. What’s great about this album, is that you can’t put it into any one category! There are songs on here to satisfy everyone, me included.

Things open with “One Vision,” which I already was familiar with from the “Iron Eagle” soundtrack. On this album, Queen extend it a little longer. I don’t know, maybe they were trying to get a dance single out of it. The title track comes next giving the top 40 crowd their song which they could play on their walkmans. Saying that, Brian May’s guitar solo is pretty good on it, though there were better things from him to come later on in the album.

There was no doubt in my mind that Queen was capable of a great ballad. It comes in the form of, “One Year of Love.” Vocally, Freddie Mercury just totally nails this song and the others do that great harmonizing which made Queen famous. I think next time I want to get in the mood with Mrs 80smetalman, I’ll use this song. After that comes the song which I sort of wish wasn’t on the album. I can see what they were trying to do with “Pain is So Close to Pleasure,” and I know many people out there probably really like it, but it doesn’t do much for me, except for Brian’s guitar work of course but that’s not enough to save it for me.

“Friends Will Be Friends” is the first song that sounds like the Queen I remembered as a teenager in the 1970s. From the way Brian brings the song in with great guitar work to the vocals of Mercury and that great underrated rhythm section of Deacon and Taylor. I go back in time forty years every time I listen to it and that is not a bad thing.

They go way out there with “Who Wants to Live Forever,” which appears on the soundtrack of the film, “Highlander.” It is very close to 70s progressive rock here with the organs and the guitar parts. In addition, Brian accompanies Freddie on the lead vocals and both do a great job. While, I would expect no less from Freddie, Brian May has always been underrated as a singer and this song shows what he can do with his set of pipes.

Now comes my favourite part of the album and probably the favourite of many metalheads. It is no exaggeration when I say that “Gimme the Prize” is pure heavy metal mania! The power chords are right up there with many of the metal bands I was so dearly loving at the time. I love the spoken part, “I have something to say. It’s better to burn out than fade away.” Pure brilliance in my humble opinion and I would gladly use the song to blow the ear drums off anyone who says Queen sold out. The strangest thing is that this is not my favourite song on the album.

My favourite isn’t the next song either. Saying that, if anyone wanted to convert me to 80s synth pop, the best way would be to play the track, “Don’t Lose Your Head.” There were synth pop bands a plenty in 1986 but none of them come close to this track. It is that good.

Now comes my favourite track on the album, closing track, “Princes of the Universe,” which was also used as a single on the “Highlander” soundtrack. This too, could be a metal song but it has just slightly more appeal than “Gimme the Prize.” Maybe it’s because the song begins with Queen’s famous harmonizing reminiscent of “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Fat Bottomed Girls.” The rest of the song is so much full of energy that if I heard this at a concert, I would want to start a mosh pit to it. Moshing to Queen, why not? I think they would have been pleased by it.

Track Listing:

  1. One Vision
  2. A Kind of Magic
  3. One Year of Love
  4. Pain is So Close to Pleasure
  5. Friends Will Be Friends
  6. Who Wants to Live Forever
  7. Gimme the Prize
  8. Don’t Lose Your Head
  9. Princes of the Universe
queen

Queen

Freddie Mercury- lead and backing vocals, keyboards (tracks 2, 4, 5, 9)

Brian May- guitar, backing vocals, lead vocal on track 6

Roger Taylor- drums, backing vocals, synthesizer on track 2

John Deacon- bass, backing vocals, synthesizer (tracks 3 & 4)

It’s a good thing I don’t remember anyone in 1986 saying Queen were has- beens. “A Kind of Magic” proves otherwise and if I had remembered anyone saying it, I would have to travel back in time and give them a slap or at least play the album to them.

Next post: Ozzy Osbourne- The Ultimate Sin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: Queen- A Kind of Magic”

  1. Sometimes I think albums that try and hit all the bases are the sellouts. I don’t love this one, although Who Wants To Live Forever is one of their best 1980s songs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yasss! Love the Highlander stuff with a passion. Gimme The Prize and Princes Of The Universe are stupendously good!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I need to get this on vinyl! Great review.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Given that I grew up on HIghlander, the stand out for me on this album is Who Wants to Live Forever. Chills.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One Vision is soooooo good.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I Love This Album!! I remember seeing Highliander and then getting this album. The first Queen album that I ever bought. It was the gateway into them for me. This one holds a special place for me as a result. Princes of the Universe is my favorite and I do love Who Wants to Live Forever.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love this record. It was highlight of ’86 for me. Glad you also like “One Year Of Love.” Freddie soars on that one. Their next album, The Miracle (from 1989), is even stronger than this one but still has a very low profile after all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. some great tracks on that but never seen that cover. How curious – thought Id seen them all

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah I see. I thought there might have been more than one album cover.

    Like

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