Return Of The Champions

Queen + Paul Rodgers

Hollywood Records, 2005

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


To be honest, when I first heard news of the remainder of Queen going out on tour, I was apprehensive. Who could possibly manage to fill the enormous shoes (ballet slippers, to be specific) left by singer Freddie Mercury's premature death in 1991? Amazingly enough, seemingly out-of-left-field choice Paul Rodgers materialized at what was supposed to be a one-off performance with the band at the Hall of Fame awards in 2004 and from there, has embedded himself in the book of Queen history that most had deemed shut for good.

Rodgers, formerly of Free, Bad Company and The Firm, is an unlikely stand-in, especially when rumors of George Michael or Robbie Williams had been circling for ages. But somehow that's what makes the Queen + Paul Rodgers outing a success -- Rodgers has made it clear he's not out to replace the absolutely irreplaceable Mercury but instead, put his own spin on classic Queen hits. Along with the incredible Brian May back on guitars, drummer Roger Taylor, additional guitarist Jamie Moses (who also performed with May during his solo outings a few years back) and bassist Danny Miranda, standing in for John Deacon who opted to remain behind the scenes, the tour was a smash hit in England and ended up in New Jersey, Los Angeles and Japan before an announcement of additional dates in the US in the springtime.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Return Of The Champions, taken from their performance in Sheffield in May, welcomes back the members of Queen for their first tour in an unbelievable nineteen years. Rodgers shines on perennial crowd favorites like the blistering "Tie Your Mother Down" and Bad Company classic "Feel Like Makin' Love," while both May and Taylor step up for vocal duties on "Love Of My Life" and the subdued "These Are The Days Of Our Lives," respectively.

But the standout performances on Return Of The Champions for me are from May and Taylor, who manage to sound just as incredible, if not better, than the last time they toured together in 1986. The two have gained even more of a mastery of their instruments and, with Rodgers and the rest of the touring band, create a strong, in sync sound that's astounding for a group who came together just months before.

My only wish for future Queen shows and live albums is a wider offering of material. With the amount of songs available in both Queen and Paul Rodgers' back catalogues, I would love to see them abandon the play it safe route for a bit and bring out some songs not on featured on a greatest hits collection.

Return Of The Champions is a promising debut from some of rock's most talented performers, and I for one can't wait to see where they're headed next.

Rating: A-

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