The Miracle

Queen

Hollywood Records, 1989

http://www.queenonline.com/

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/14/1999

Whenever a band has been around for quite some time, it will invent and reinvent itself in an attempt to stay fresh and current. Then, after a while, said band will return to its original sound to capture the fans who may have been put off by the new sound and their original attitude. This has happened to all bands -- no matter the name. The Beatles, The Stones, U2, Van Halen and the Smashing Pumpkins have all done it or gone through it with various degrees of success. After all, in such a fickle world, bands who age quicker lose fans quicker. Just ask all those mid-80s glam rock bands.

So, it should be no surprise that a band as quirky and talented as Queen would go through such a change. After hitting a peak with the mid-70s success of over-the-top operatic rock of albums like A Night At The Opera, Sheer Heart Attack and News Of The World, Queen went through such a change for the 80s. They began to churn out more pop-oriented ditties and albums. Hits such as "Another One Bites the Dust," "I Want To Break Free," and "A Kind of Magic" exemplified Queen's new sound. No longer where they into long, complex songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody," but instead released albums like The Game and The Works. Not bad, but different.

Then, in 1989 -- after a very-succesful (and, unknown to all, final) world tour to support A Kind of Magic -- the band released their new album, The Miracle. With it, you can feel that the band was attempting to marry their 80s-pop sound with their 70s-bombast. And, as you can expect, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

The album begins with the one-two punch of "Party" and "Khassoghi's Ship." What I mean by that is that the songs seem like part one and two of the same song. They're pretty much along the same vein. The problem is that neither song is memorable. They, at best, fall into the same pit as "Pain Is So Close To Pleasure" and "Drowse" -- not innovative or exciting, but they're there. In fact, that is what keeps bringing down this album. For every highlight, there is a corresponding stumble. In that pile, you can chuck misses such as "My Baby Does" and "The Invisible Man" -- which, though having a very cool bass line, would have been better released in 1979 and not 1989.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Another example is the title track. Now, I know that I should take it as a sign of the times, but c'mon. In the era of "We Are The World," Live Aid and Musicians to Cure Jock Itch, I guess that "The Miracle" fits in just fine. The problem is that now it seems a bit outdated. What makes it worse is that it is usually included in whatever greatest hits package is released -- like perpetuating the bad idea that disco was cool and punk really meant something. (By the way, if there isn't such a group as Musicians to Cure Jock Itch, someone should get them balls rollin'. That's a big problem in the world).

Now, don't think that every song is bad. Some of them deserve to stand alongside the classics. Foremost is "I Want It All." It tells you something that when you pick this album up at your local music store, the sticker on the album tells you this song is here. See, the version that is on the Greatest Hits compilation is a radio edit. The full-version -- sans the opening a capella beginning -- is found only here and it's great. (I've actually heard of a complete version -- featuring the opening choir and the full version of Brian May's ass-kicking solo -- is to be found out there somewhere. If anyone has it, please send it this way).

There are other very cool songs here. The poppish "Rain Must Fall" and "Breakthru" -- with a great chorus -- the sad and appropriate "Scandal" -- which has more relevance today than ever. And then, the closing song "Was It All Worth It" seems to start the vein of remembrance for Freddie Mercury and the band -- as they began to fight with Mercury's incurable AIDS -- that they would delve into deeper for their last two albums, Innuendo and Made In Heaven.

Now, if you buy the newer Hollywood Records version of the CD, you will get three bonus tracks. First, is "Hang On In There," which is alright, but nonetheless a B-side. The coolest part for me lies at the very end as they're fading out, when May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon just start fooling around till fadeout. Next is "Chinese Torture," which is a few minutes of great May guitar work. Metallica fans may remember this from a number of live performances. Here you get the studio version. Finally, there's a 12-inch version of "The Invisible Man," which is horrible. They added a number of effects and flushed an average song down into awfulness. Oh well, being the last track, you can afford to miss it.

As I stated before, the band was, by this time, fighting the obvious, but private, reality of Freddie Mercury's AIDS. This gave the band an apparent new purpose as, for the first time, all songs are credited to the entire band and not just one or two individual members. However, only a few songs truly come out inspired. They may have been fighting too much. In any case, their next two albums would improve on the band's return to their original sounds and shadow this effort. This is probably more for the diehard fans and the completists.

Rating: C+

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© 1999 Alfredo Narvaez 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.