Review Summary: Probably the most dissapointing album by a great band. Queen at their lowest.
I like Queen. In fact, I love Queen. They're my favorite or second favorite band in the world. I have listened carefully to all of their albums and singles, I have watched a handful of their concert films, I have searched the whole Internet to get ahold of some bootlegs. So you could say i'm a pretty hardcore fan. Now, when I looked back into of all those Queen albums, I asked myself: what is the WORST studio recording Queen has ever put together? What is the abomination no turntable, CD player or computer should should never have to suffer the pain to reproduce? Some say it's Hot Space. Some say it's the Flash Gordon soundtrack. Me, I leaned for The Works. Allow me to explain why.
The criterion used to review each one of the tracks is the instrumentation, the vocal performance (in case there were any), the song originality, the lyrics and the soundscape the song creates. Ratings of each individual song at the end of the review.
The Works kicks off with one of Queen's most popular songs, "Radio Gaga". "Radio Gaga" is probably the first time in their careers when the Queen members can pull off the use of a syntheziser, unlike the unprofessional failures of the instrument on albums such as The Game or Hot Space. Freddie delivers a magnificent vocal performance and the Roland synth does a fantastic job. Basically, a thrilling song with a great audience-interactive chorus, and the album's finest hour.
But then it all goes down the toilet. The songs we get next are nothing but garbage, reused formulas of older Queen hits designed to fill up an album with the only purpose of making it a commercial success, with no artistic integrity or soul whatsoever. "Tear It Up" is a plain, dumb hard rock song written by May with the intention to revive Queen's old sound. The lyrics make you want to cry, and the musical structure is the most generic *** Queen as ever put on a record. This is almost an insulting song to true Queen fans, as if Brian May would have thought it could be nice to put together the worst bits of "Tie Your Mother Down" and "Fat Bottomed Girls" and add a ridiculous chorus.
Other self copied songs are the two that follow: "It's A Hard Life" and "Man On The Prowl". No words can begin to describe this two repulsive tunes, the first one tracing the chorus of "Play The Game" to the point of stupidity. And the second one is basically another rockabilly song that tries to emulate the freshness of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Man On The Prowl". Seriously, it's "Crazy Little Thing" without all the catchy acoustic sections and Freddie's smooth vocals.
Oh, but wait up, because it gets even worse. If "Tear It Up", "It's A Hard Life" and "Man On The Prowl" are underground in terms of quality, then "Machines (Or 'Back To Humans')" it's in the pits of Hell itself. This song is just five minutes of robotic kind of voices, poorly employed synthezisers and guitars, all accompanied with lyrics a 11 year old child could write. "When the machines take over, there ain't no place for rock 'n' roll". What the hell? Seriously? Anyway, tasteless, directionless, boring song.
"I Want To Break Free" is a relief on the album. The incredible vocal performance put up by Freddie, the smooth drumming and the amazing high-pitched chorus are some of the songs most remarcable attributes. This means "I Want To Break Free" is one of the few great songs on The Works, right? Well, no. The single mix of the song included a dreamy synth introduction and a breath taking synth solo in the middle. I said "the single version" because it's taken out here. Yes, probably the best part of the song is missing. God knows why Queen decided to not include the synth section on this album version. It's like they saw there could be a pleasing song on the middle of this torturing album and suddenly decided they wanted it out for the sake of evil and Satan. A dissapointment if there ever is one.
And we get back with the last really horrible song on the album, luckily. "Keep Passing The Open Windows" is a boring and mindless song with one of the worst showcases of Freddie's piano that lasts way too long considering how bad it is. This is another unoriginal song, this time resembling to a lower-pitched and (definetly) not exciting version of "Don't Stop Me Now". This one and "Machines (Or 'Back To Humans')" definetly share the position of worst song on the album.
"Hammer To Fall" comes here to save the day. A very passionate rocker written by May, the lyrics tell us about death and how impossible it is to avoid it, resulting in the best lyrics on the album. This is a beautiful and (thank god) original rock song, it does just the job it should do and gives us more than one great moment of satisfaction with the amazing guitar solo and the line sung by Roger, Brian and Freddie in unison "What the hell we fighting for?". Very thrilling and polished song.
And finally, the last song: "Is This The World We Created...?", a merely ok acoustic piece that intends to appeal to our human sensibility but fails to do so. Although it resembles a lot to "Love Of My Life", this song is better than the other self-copied songs on the album.
To conclude, The Works is a lazy album put up by Queen as a safe-played commercial excuse. It never reaches any interesting innovations after "Radio Gaga" and gets stuck way too much with reused formulas. In my humble opinion, even the band's most critized album, Hot Space, is better than The Works. Why? Because Hot Space, although failing to do so, at least tried to break new ground in Queen's career, to move the band into another direction. The Works to takes them back to safe zones by giving us the cheapests songs Queen has ever crafted.
RADIO GAGA: 9.75 / 10
TEAR IT UP: 2.50 / 10
IT'S A HARD LIFE: 3 / 10
MAN ON THE PROWL: 2 / 10
MACHINES (OR 'BACK TO HUMANS'): 0.75 / 10
I WANT TO BREAK FREE: 7.75 / 10
KEEP PASSING THE OPEN WINDOWS: 1 / 10
HAMMER TO FALL: 10 / 10
IS THIS THE WORLD WE CREATED...?: 7 / 10