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.
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.
When I heard Queen + Adam Lambert were releasing alive album, I was quite excited. I had seen them live together and thought it was a wonderful show. They were here in Charlotte back on August 23, 2019 and you can read about it HERE. Sadly, this show wasn’t part of this release. But there were many others as the band chose from over 200 shows to come up with the 22 song set. The release came in both the CD and a Blu-Ray with the actual clips from the shows they used including the Fire Fight Australia appearance where they performed the full Queen set from 1985’s Live Aid and yes, that included the famous “Ay-Oh” actually done by Freddie.
The CD is missing two tracks that you only get on the Blu-Ray and those are the “Drum Battle” and the Brian May Guitar Solo / “Last Horizon”. The “Drum Battle” was really awesome because Roger was dueling with his son, Rufus Tiger Taylor. And Tiger is a pretty great drummer in his own right. What a proud moment that must be for Roger. The Brian May guitar solo was similar to what I saw at my show, but the difference was instead of riding an asteroid into the rafters, Brian was being lifted in the palm of the hand of the robot from ‘News of the World’.