Review Summary: Ok, it offers nothing new musically but what it does have is something that a lot of ‘Queen’ albums were lacking throughout the ‘1980’s’… honesty!
Ok, it offers nothing new musically but what it does have is something that a lot of ‘Queen’ albums were lacking throughout the ‘1980’s’… honesty!
By ‘1991,’ ‘Freddie Mercury’s’ health was rapidly becoming worse thanks to the ‘HIV’ virus he had caught around ‘1986.’ Musically there was nothing to suggest the pains he or the band were going through. ‘1989’s,’ “The Miracle,” had made suggestions of some personal problems but nothing so concrete.
“Innuendo,” the bands first release of the ‘1990’s,’ changes that. Most of the songs concentrate on a man reflecting the problems in his life, and even at times fighting to accept his problems, and maybe even giving up on life, before finally declaring that “The Show must go on.”
Not to say that “Innuendo” is a perfect album, it’s not, indeed it has the same problems that normal ‘Queen’ albums do, the golden word being ‘consistency.’ But it contains some of their best material for ages, (Perhaps since ‘1980’s’ “The Game”) and most importantly unlike their previous efforts in the ‘1980’s’ it has a ‘lasting quality.’
The album musically puts together all of the things that ‘Queen’ had done in the past and tries to put it into one album. Yes, there are some songs that don’t quite work or never work at all; this is mainly because they either stray off the subject or just plain ‘suck.’ But the main ‘selling point’ though is that all of the songs have been ‘updated’ to 90’s standards, and even though the band were by now in their mid 40’s they still despite all the murk and despair of most of the 80’s, (bar their early ‘1980-1982’ techno period) could still surprise us.
Take for example the opening track “Innuendo,” the song opens with an epic drum roll before preceding to its “Led Zeppelin,” ‘Kashmir’ style intro. The song reflects about all the problems in the world from war, hunger, and death, and how in life we the people will keep on trying to help these problems until the end of time. What also makes the song work is the brilliant, if not unexpected ‘Spanish Guitar’ solo in the middle section before leading to a ‘banjo solo’ that in turn transforms to an epic ‘Brian May’ guitar solo, which makes this one of the best experimental pieces by the band since… err… “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A true ‘late gem.’
But “I’m going slightly mad,” is arguably better. It starts of with a synthesized Smiths/Morrissey style intro that sounds like death-incarnate before ‘Morrissey,’ I meant ‘Freddie’ declares to everyone how he is not quite all there or just short of a shilling. What makes the song a great song and not just an indie/gothic copy is that the subject matter although funny is sung seriously enough and with a lot of conviction. Also ‘Queen’ has adapted ‘Gothic’ music to ‘their style’ of music, and not just made a ‘clichéd copy,’ like they had so many times in the past.
Past problems come back though in the pompous rock songs “Headlong,” and “I can’t live with you.” These define the definition ‘POWERPUFF ROCK.’ Ok they’re not in the awfulness of “Gimme the Prize” or “Don’t lose your head” but they still have woeful lyrics and unlike the first two tracks are simply about NOTHING.
“Don’t try so Hard,” is an average medley ‘filler’ song. Admittingly it has good intentions but it maybe tries to drive hard it’s message about ‘not pushing too hard in life,’ a little too much.
“Ride the Wild Wind,” is another gem. It’s kind of an extension of “The Miracle’s” “Breakthru,” but a much more serious song. I also like the “hey, hey, hey” chants for the chorus. It’s a fun yet honest song a you’ll know that… ‘It ain’t dangerous enough for me…’
“All God’s People,” suffers the same problems as “Don’t try so hard,” in that despite having a good message, it tries a little to hard to force feed it to the listener. Again not a bad song, but not great either.
The next song would coincidentally be the bands last single release with Freddie on the music video. The video itself doesn’t make for fun viewing as a obvious degrading ‘Freddie’ does his best to hide his ominous ending. Still the song “These are the days of our lives,” is a beautiful song and one of the bands best ballads. From beginning to end, maybe because of its historical relevance, or perhaps not, it engages the listener to listen to a man who is reflecting all of the things he has done in life and how they come and go but yet how one can still… ‘Look back and find that I still love you.’ Freddie delicately whispers ‘I still love you’ at the end of the song, a fitting end message by one of music’s great front men.
Well the album’s not over yet though. We next have “Delilah” a decent, if not obvious ‘filler’ ballad song, where “Freddie” dedicates over 3 minutes in tribute to his cat.
“The Hitman,” is awful. It beats “Headlong,” and “I can’t live with you,” for the title of worst POWERPUF rock song on this album by… A MILLION MILES.
“Bijou,” is a delicate, if not non-spectacular song. In truth it’s not really about much and just serves as a pre-cursor to the next song.
The last song, fittingly called “The Show Must go on,” is one of Queen’s finest. It starts of with a rapturous, yet epic synthesized intro before Freddie opens with one of his best lines of dialogue:
“Empty spaces, what are living for?
Abandoned places, I guess we know the score,
On and on, does anybody know what we are living for?”
The song simply asks about ‘the meaning of life,’ and whether or not it’s ‘worth living for.’ With an epic chorus and memorable conclusion the song proves to be one of ‘Queen’s’ most defining moments, and one of the bravest, especially considering that ‘Mercury’ himself was staring death in the face.
“I’ll face it with a grin,
I’m never giving in, on with the show.”
And on with the RECAP.
Epic beginning to the album. 5/5
I’M GOING SLIGHTLY MAD
Won’t make you go mad. 5/5
A bit of a pompous tune. Not quite awful though. 2/5
I CAN’T LIVE WITH YOU
Just as bad or good as Headlong. 2/5
DON’T TRY SO HARD
Tries to be epic but goes no where. 2/5
RIDE THE WILD WIND
The crowd chants of “Hey, hey, hey” will have you singing this for days. 5/5
ALL GODS PEOPLE
Snooze time, again not awful but definitely skipable. 1.5/5
THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES
One of ‘Queen’s’ best ballads. 5/5
Average filler about one’s cat. 2.5/5
Woeful POWERPUF rock song. 1/5
Not bad, not good either. Kinda boring. 2/5
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
An epic way to go out on. 5/5
That gives “Innuendo” an average of 3.16.
Comparing to others.
Queen II 2.59
Sheer Heart Attack 3
A Night at the Opera 3.96
A day at the races 2.59
News of the world 2.4
The Game 3.15
Hot Space 2.86
The Works 2.33
A Kind of Magic 2.44
The Miracle 2.8
So in the face of death ‘Queen’ were able to churn out a good one. Yes it has its weaknesses but for the first time in ages one was able to listen to a ‘Queen’ album with either skipping some tracks or puking in-between some songs.
“The Miracle,” had shown some promise, on “Innuendo” they built on that promise a bit more. Sadly by November ‘1991’ ‘Freddie Mercury’ would pass on and any chance the band would have had to make a follow on to this passed… or so it seemed.