Hot Space


Elektra, 1982

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Hot Space is so far removed from anything Queen has ever done that it's nearly unrecognizable.

First, the lyrics. No more "Bohemian Rhapsody"-esque musings...this time it's "You and me got staying power, baby." How 80s. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

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.

Rating: C-

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© 2004 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra, and is used for informational purposes only.