After the Magic Tour ended in 1986, which was supporting the album ‘A Kind of Magic’, the band took a break. Not much happened in 1987 and the band went its longest time between albums. They finally did start recording a new album in January 1988 and it took a whole year before they were finally finished in January 1989. The band was going through a lot during this time period. Brian May was going through a very tumultuous marital problems that actually put him in to depression. And to make matters worse, Freddie had been diagnosed with HIV and suffering through the effects of that illness. At the time, there had been speculation of Freddie’s illness but at the time, it wasn’t confirmed publicly although the band was well aware of the diagnosis.
The album was finished and was finally released on May 22, 1989 and titled ‘The Miracle’ which sounds like that is exactly what it was to get the album finished. At one time, the album title was going to be ‘The Invisible Men’ but was changed suddenly at the last minute. I think the final title fits what was going on in their lives. Thankfully, we got another album from the band. The album went to #1 in several countries, including the UK, but only hit #24 in the US. It was certified Platinum in the UK, but I don’t believe has ever been certified Gold or anything in the US. For me, it was a day one purchase so I know they sold at least one copy in the US.
The band did something different with this album as well. All the songs were credited to the band ‘Queen’ and not to each individual member that actually wrote the song. The band was being more collaborative and felt this was the right thing to do. Now, however, we know who actually wrote each song but I liked the fact at this point in their career, they felt that crediting it to each member was the right thing to do. The album cover with the faces morphed together as one is in line with the collaborative feeling.
The album kicked off with a jam session from Brian May, John Deacon and Freddie Mercury. The three of them were just jamming away in the studio and put this quick, rocking opener together with a killer May guitar solo and Freddie cackling away in the background. “Party” is strange and yet a great way to kick off the album.
The song goes immediately in to the song “Khashoggi’s Ship” because for them the party wasn’t over. This song was actually written by all the members and is about Adnan Khashoggi and his giant super yacht which was one of the largest in the world. It was a big party ship so the party continued from the opening track. The band seems to be having a lot of fun and Roger Taylor’s drumming on this one is really sensational. Heck, they were all killing it on this one. The album kicks off with pure adrenaline and nothing short of fun!!
The title track, “The Miracle”, was up next and brought us one of the most complex songs the band had done in years. The song was actually written by Mercury and Deacon and has so many chord changes and style changes it is classic Queen in my book. The song has May plucking his guitar, Mercury on piano and synthesizer brings us some different sounds, Deacon laying down the groove with Taylor. “The Miracle” talks about the beauties of the world including God’s creations and human creations. However, the one miracle they are waiting for is “peace on Earth and end to war”. I think it is one of the coolest tracks on the album.
“I Want It All” is the biggest rock song on the album. Written by Brian May, the song is taken form a motto from his wife Anita Dobson which was “I want it all, and I want it now”. That is such an 80’s way of thinking. One of the cool features on the song is Roger Taylor’s use of the double-kick bass drum which turns out is the one and only time he has ever used that method. Mercury sang lead, but May sang during the bridge and wait until you hear May’s playing on this, it will knock you on your ass. His fingers are flying as Taylor’s bass drums are going a mile a minute to keep up. It is the heaviest they get on the whole album. It rocks!!
“The Invisible Man” was written by Roger Taylor and was inspired by a book he was reading in which the bass line came to him immediately while reading. He titled the song after a book by H.G. Wells called “The Invisible Man”. I am sure you’ve heard of it. Roger doesn’t sing much on the song. He opens the song with saying “I’m the Invisible Man”, but Freddie does all the heavy lifting in the song. And one interesting fact about the song is that is the only Queen song to actually feature every band member’s name in the song. When they say Freddie Mercury, he starts singing. When they John Deacon, there is a heavy bass line going. When they say Brian May, they say it twice and he goes in to a solo. When they say Roger Taylor, he has a quick drum fill. It is all pretty cool.
The song is about a guy he becomes invisible after being rejected by a woman. Now, he actually isn’t invisible physically, only in the fact he is ignored by people and only feels invisible. He can now see right through her and her hidden emotions and the woman suddenly can’t stop thinking of him. He becomes her meanest thought and her darkest fear as the lyrics say. It is an interesting take on invisibility. Musically, the song is more on the pop side, with some heavy synthesizer usage from David Richards and a constant electronic bass line going throughout. Brian May’s guitar work is nothing short of amazing as usual and a killer solo thrown in. Roger does a rapid fire drum fill to open the song before Freddie starts to sing. There is so much going on in the song that it needs multiple listens to catch it all. It is not a typical song, but when does Queen do typical. This one might be an acquired taste of which I have acquired. If you like different, then this one is it. Possibly my favorite on the album.
The next song is “Breakthru” which is actually a combination of two songs. The first is “A New Life is Born” by Freddie and then “Breakthru” by Roger. They agreed on the key changes between the two songs and joined them together in to what can only be described as incredible. “A New Life is Born” is a soft ballad with beautiful Freddie harmonies before the song is cranked to 11 and slammed home for the rest of the track. The song is about finally breaking through and pushing towards something greater.
“Rain Must Fall” is up next which is a collaboration between John Deacon and Freddie Mercury. The song starts off with a latin feel and almost a Gloria Estefan style. It is a pleasant song, very pop like and for me doesn’t quite fit the style and feel of the rest of the album. It isn’t a bad song at all, just out of place and sort of filler.
I have a lot of favorites on this album, but none more so than this Brian May track, “Scandal”. The song is a dig at the British press as they were ruthless during this time discussing his divorce and relationship with Anita as well as Freddie’s health problems. Freddie sings and nailed this one on his first take. The song has this epic feel to it…if feels larger than life and important. The synths are played by David Richards and actually adds just the right enhancements. It is a beautiful track and Freddie sounds unbelievable. It is this type of song that makes me love Queen and remember how great they were together.
“My Baby Does Me” is another Deacon/Mercury collaboration as they did it a lot on this album. Originally, the “Does” was supposed to be “Love”, but I like the “Does” better. The song has a wicked bassline and a great groove. There is a jazz feel to it and this swagger that is quite cool. Freddie approaches the song differently vocally really digging it and getting in to the vibe. A really cool deep cut.
Finally we get “Was It All Worth It” which was penned by Freddie. It feels a lot like the band’s earlier career in the 70’s. It has that sound and vibe. It is basically Freddie thinking back to the band’s career and was it all worth going through everything they had done. With his being sick, I can see him asking that question. The short answer to his question is an astounding…YES!! To this song is grandiose is an understatement. It takes you on many different journeys in its musical stylings. It is Queen being the only thing they know how to be and that is Queen!
- Party – Keeper
- Khashoggi’s Ship – Keeper
- The Miracle – Keeper
- I Want It All – Keeper
- The Invisible Man – Keeper
- Breakthru – Keeper
- Rain Must Fall – Delete
- Scandal – Keeper
- My Baby Does – Keeper
- Was It All Worth It – Keeper
The Track Score is 9 out of 10 or 90% which is a solid score. I feel this album is extremely underrated and for me there is so much to like here. Is it as great as some of the band’s 70’s classics, no, but it holds its own and finds a band that knows who they are and are celebrating it. I think at this time, they know the end is near and they aren’t going down quietly. Although the album took a year to make, the band seem to be enjoying themselves at least while they are in the studio. The songs are at times fun and at times introspective as they look back at their long career with no concern if it is about to come to an end. If it does, they are fine with it and ready to face whatever comes their way. I will give it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as for me I do love this album.
The bonus tracks kick off with the Single Version of “I Want It All” that replaces the instrumental opening of the album version with an a cappella rendition of the chorus. Then we get an early version of “The Invisible Man” that has guide vocals as they weren’t finished yet. This version was from August 1988. I like these early demos to see how the song started and then know how it ended up. Musically it hasn’t changed that much but lyrics were finished.
Next up are a trio of B-Sides that were not on the album. The first is “Hang On In There” written by Mercury about his illness. The working title was called “A Fiddly Jam”. It was the B-Side to “I Want It All”. It is a little sad to know he is contemplating the end of his life. I can see why it was left off the album, but it is still a good song. Then we get the Taylor written song “Hijack My Heart” which he also sang on. The song was the B-Side to “The Invisible Man”. The song is about meeting a woman who annoys the crap out of you and then you fall for her. I usually like Roger sung songs, but this one isn’t his best so glad it was left off the original album. It is one of his weaker songs as it is rather plain and uninteresting. It feels to 80’s pop. The last B-Side is “Stealin'” which was from the single for “Breakthru”. The song is more spoken than singing. It feels like it should be a blues track but had no blues guitar in it. The groove felt bluesy though. It was just missing a little something.
“Chinese Torture” is an instrumental by May. The song is supposed to be about the brutality of the effects of Chinese water torture. I don’t know if it effectively conveys that, but it is great piece by May regardless. The last track is the 12″ version of “The Invisible Man” and if you know anything about 12″ versions they take the song and flip it around in numerous different directions. The repeat lines constantly, distort sound, and try to turn it in to a dance track…sort of. The song gets about 2 extra minutes of time added to it. Not my favorite rendition of the song. One of the few bonus discs to have 7 extra tracks and so many non-album tracks.
And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed and we will see you for the next one…