Queen – ‘A Kind of Magic’ (1986) – Album Review (The Studio Album Series)

During 1985, Queen performed at the Live Aid on July 13th in the UK at Wembley Stadium. Their performance is legendary and actually helped catapult the band back in to the limelight. The Live Aid performance was one of the biggest scenes for the film, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, in 2018. Still high from the performance, in September 1985, Freddie called the band together to write songs and work was begun on the band’s 12th studio album, ‘A Kind of Magic’.

The band continued recording until April of 1986 and in that time, they were also working on songs for the upcoming Sci-fi cult classic, ‘Highlander’, starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. The album that would become basically an unofficial soundtrack to the movie as no official soundtrack was ever released. A lot of the songs on the album were from the movie and the rest were other songs the band was working on at the time. The album is noted for also being the first album the band had ever recorded in digital and not analog. It was one of the few CDs I had at the time that was truly ‘DDD’ which was on the back of the CD case. ‘DDD’ basically it was recorded, mixed and mastered all in digital and it was one of the best sounding CDs I owned at the time.

The album was released on June 2, 1986 and in the UK, the album went straight to #1 and sold over 600,000 copies making it 2X platinum. In the U.S., it only went to #46 and barely made Gold selling around 500,000 copies…yes, the U.S. requires sells of over 1,000,000 to be platinum. The U.K., not as strict. For me, this album was my first real dive in to Queen. It was the first Queen album I bought and it would start a fandom that has lasted for 35 years. With that, I think it is time to get in to the music.

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Queen – ‘Queen 40 (Volumes 1-3)- Box Set Review

For Christmas of 2020, I received the ‘Queen 40’ Box Set, all three volumes. You would think, John, you have most of these on vinyl, why do you want the CDs? Well, easy…these are all remastered CDs from 2011 and each album includes an extra CD E.P. with anywhere from 5 to 7 Bonus tracks that I don’t have on the vinyl. So, that is why I wanted this set.

Let me tell you this set is great. They broke it up in to 3 separate volumes with each Volume getting 5 Studio albums so for the cost conscious person, you can buy one volume at a time or if money doesn’t matter, get all 3. Now that I have all 3 Volumes, with all 15 Studio albums, I am going to clue you in on something. Each Studio album will get its own, detailed review. My goal is to review all these albums by the end of 2021 and then do an Album Ranking of what I thought was the worst all the way to the one that is first on the list. It is going to be an exciting time at 2 Loud 2 Old Music for 2021!!

Let’s go through each Volume starting, of course, with Volume 1…

VOLUME 1:

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My Sunday Song – “Who Wants to Live Forever” by Queen

For My Sunday Song #230, we are ending the Queen 10 song set with “Who Wants to Live Forever” off the 1986 album, ‘A Kind of Magic’. The song was from the movie ‘Highlander’ which I love that movie, but it doesn’t really hold up well when I watched it a few months back but I am getting off topic. The song only charted in the UK and sold well over 400,000 copies and is still a fan favorite as Queen still plays it in their shows today. It is one of my favorite Queen songs and so that it is why it is ending this set.

The song was written by Brian May and he wrote it in only 20 short minutes after watching a clip of the movie where Connor MacLeod’s wife, Heather, dies. You see Connor is immortal and he can’t die (unless he loses his head). The song is the backdrop to that scene in the final cut of the movie. Now in the film version, Freddy sings the whole song, but I am going off the album version where Brian actually sings the first verse and then Freddie takes over.

Musically, the song is a ballad, full of orchestration by Michael Kamen. The song is so haunting, the lyrics even more so and when you add the strings and the full orchestra it is a really moving song and can send chills up and down your spine. It does pick up a tempo as the song builds and the heavy drum beats come in. It keeps building until Freddie lays down that final massive vocal on the chorus. His theatrical talents bode well for getting the emotions across in the song. The song is so grand and so Queen.

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