REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/22/2004
Hot Space is so far removed from anything Queen has ever done that it's nearly unrecognizable.
Second and most important, the music. What happened? The 70s bands that were interesting decided the only way to stay relevant was to add synthesizers and dumb down their sound for mass acceptance...and the end result was aging men in tight pants who sounded cheesy. This is all dance-pop songs, robotic drumming, and a near-lack of Brian May's wonderful guitar playing.
The kicker is, this thing took a year to make, and it marked the last time Queen would tour in the United States. Their success here plummeted right after 1982.
The album is split down the middle; first half cheese, second half real music. The cheesy side is truly awful, and Freddie Mercury's powerful voice should not be singing this kind of stuff. The funk of "Action This Day" and the harmonies of "Dancer" are just fine, but that's it. Sad to watch a once-great band veer off the map so much.
Things improve on the second half. "Put Out the Fire" is solid, as is the tribute to Lennon, and "Cool Cat" has a strong Michael Jackson vibe that the man himself would perfect on Thriller. Also of note is the somewhat bombastic "Los Palabras de Amor," and it's a welcome sight that the over-the-top band we know and love is lurking within.
Finally, "Under Pressure" closes the proceedings on a stunning note. Hearing Mercury and David Bowie's voice soar together to the climax of the song, not to mention the instantly-recognizable rubbery bass line, is worth the price of admission. It totally redeems the first side.
However, it does not redeem the album as a whole. Save this one for last as you dig through the old Queen vinyl.