The Cosmos Rocks

Queen + Paul Rodgers

Parlophone, 2008

http://www.queenonline.com/

REVIEW BY: Mark Kadzielawa

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/09/2008

I must admit I was not convinced when I first heard about Queen teaming up with Paul Rodgers.  It just didn’t look good on paper -- but in reality, it worked.  Return Of The Champions showed a band doing justice to classics from both Queen and Paul Rodgers’ rich catalogs.  It put a new twist on a group of well-known songs, and the results were surprisingly great.

Now comes a new studio album, and this is a different venture.  Without relying on a tracklist of  legendary cuts at their disposal, as in the live setting, the band members had to succeed or fail on their own. 

The Cosmos Rocks is rather complicated affair, and it would be a bit unfair to judge it after a listen or two.  Living with this record for a month can allow the listener to truly discover all the qualities hidden away from the initial plays. 

Having read some reactions from the press, I found the record to be largely ignored, misconstrued, or not even properly listened to.  I was wondering if these folks were writing about the same album, but the headlines indicated so.  Well, it’s so easy to take a shot this combination of musicians and hold them accountable to all sorts of charges, but what’s the point?  Let’s not forget, it’s all about the music, and not an individual reviewer trying to grab their 15 minutes of fame.

Ah, the music.  The Cosmos Rocks starts with the very upbeat title cut.  It sets the tempo -- it’s loud, energetic, and very glam-oriented track.  I’m not necessarily blown away by this song, but I can see how it could be snatched up by radio for a good use.  “Time To Shine, the second cut, is where the album begins for me.  It starts slowly, somewhat reminiscent of the early Queen song “Keep Yourself Alive,” and then Paul Rodgers gets to the chorus and soars.  What an incredible moment this is.  It’s only the second cut, and we’re already in overdrive.  The momentum is kept throughout the record, with varying tempos and different levels of emotion invested in each song.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250   We get the best of both Queen’s and Paul Rodgers’ writing and performing abilities, and that is a high bar. 

Later on, things get even better – yes, you’ve heard right!

“Some Things That Glitter” sets the tone for the rest of the record, and features some of the best vocals here from Rodgers, and beautiful, gentle guitar work from May.  Then it’s back to heavier rock, as “C-lebrity” takes on the subject of easy-come fame from the reality TV craze.  Finally, two of the best tracks on the album are at the very end.  Reflective “Through The Night” shows Rodgers and Queen at their absolute best.  This collaboration was worth it just to write this song alone.  “Say It’s Not True” is an epic song featuring excellent combination of voices and instruments speaking for each other.  Brian May solos on this track as if it was the last lead he would ever be allowed to play in his life, making this an absolutely breathtaking and beautiful moment.  The album could just end there, but it continues for one more track -- they end with a raging rocker as “Surf’s Up…School’s Out” just tears the listener apart, with a little emotional twist of course.

This record should’ve been called The Best Of Both Worlds, because it’s what you get here.  The excellent songwriting by Queen (and that’s without John Deacon), and the superb delivery from Paul Rodgers.  The quality of the performances is overwhelming here; this is not a cheap attempt at forging a career, it’s the new chapter.  My hat is off to May, Taylor, and Rodgers for pulling this through, and making some memorable music.

The Cosmos Rocks is an album that deserves to be heard by a wider audience.  Let’s hope many of these songs will make into the set-lists when the band takes the stage. 

The big question remains.  What would Freddie think?  It cannot be answered because Freddie isn’t here.  One must point to the fact that Mr. Mercury was full of passion, and always delivered quality performances – both characteristics represented on the new album.  So, maybe you can answer that question by yourself.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Mark Kadzielawa 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 Parlophone, and is used for informational purposes only.