Hollywood Records, 1991

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Listening to Innuendo conjures up bittersweet feelings; on the one hand, you have one of Queen's best albums in recent memory. On the other, you are listening to the last album Queen recorded with their flamboyant and talented front man, Freddie Mercury. Regardless of how you want to view Innuendo, it's a work that exhibits the best and worst of Queen, even with the presence of Mercury hovering over it.

Queen started out primarily as a glam rock/punk band, but they were serious musicians from the get-go. The band was gifted in that they had the ability to craft bombastic and humorous material that was taken rather seriously. "Killer Queen," "Fat Bottomed Girls," "Bicycle Race," and " Somebody to Love," are all prime examples. And of course, everyone that knows classic rock knows every word to "Bohemian Rhapsody," the song some call the greatest of all time. However in the 80s, the band's sound shifted in much more of a pop direction, and their success in America dwindled. Innuendo would only peak at #30, but it would be the closest thing to classic Queen since the 1970s.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If there was one thing Queen was extremely good at, it was creating epic songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody," and "The Prophet's Song." Innuendo kicks off with a song in that same vein, the title track. It shifts through various styles and tempos, moving from hard rock to a flamenco inspired guitar solo to power ballad. It immediately harkens back to the glory days of old, and is an inspired way to begin the album.

If you want some of the hard-rocking Queen of old, Innuendo will not disappoint. "Headlong" and "The Hit Man" are full blown, hard-hitting numbers delivered in the classic over-the-top Queen style. Brain May has always been an underrated guitarist in my mind, and he shows off his chops here. When the band put their mind to writing these kinds of songs, they could always be counted on to deliver.

Unfortunately, not all of the material on Innuendo works. There is a return to the 80s Queen style, which is nowhere near as creative as the 70s output. "I'm Going Slightly Mad" shows potential, but fails to capture the spirit of the lyrics. "Delilah" features some decent vocal work, but relies too heavily on the synthesizers Queen once refused to embrace. I really wanted to like "I Can't Live With You," but the song falls just short of taking off. It has a great beat and features some scat vocals from Mercury, but it what it does not have is a memorable refrain, which it desperately needs. These songs suck the momentum out of Innuendo, diminishing what the album could have been.

There is one song that stands heads and shoulders above the others. That song is "the Show Must Go On." It is the last track on Innuendo, and is the most powerful and emotional. Lyrically, it tugs at the heartstrings, describing a rock star breaking down, yet continuing to fight. With these words coming from Freddie Mercury, you have one of the most touching vocal performances of the 1990s. The song is laden with synthesizers, which lends it an operatic feel. One gets the sense of a struggle that rises above the day-to-day rat race. I cannot think of a better song to end the legacy of Freddie Mercury.

1995 saw the release of Made In Heaven, an album that consists of demos and unreleased Freddie tracks the three other members of Queen completed. Technically, that is the last Queen album, but Innuendo is the "real" end for Queen. Mercury is considered a rock god today, and deserves every bit of the praise. He was one of the greatest front men in rock history, and Innuendo is a fitting testament to his skills; a proper end to the show.

Rating: B

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© 2004 Jeff Clutterbuck 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 Hollywood Records, and is used for informational purposes only.