Queen
A Kind of Magic


3.5
great

Review

by Necrotica USER (194 Reviews)
May 15th, 2013 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A nice addition to the 80s Queen discography.

Chapter XII: A New Beginning

After some of the disappointment caused by 1982's dance-influenced Hot Space and 1984's bland rehash The Works, Queen needed an album that would bring them back into the spotlight. While 1986's A Kind of Magic was mostly a return to form in retrospect, people weren't really convinced back then to buy it. The album only managed to go Gold in the U.S. (and for such a popular band like Queen, that was unheard of back then) and was widely considered another disappointment. So looking back on the record, did it really deserve these distinctions" Definitely not.

While A Kind of Magic is pretty inconsistent in spots, there's also some fantastic music going on here. Stylistically, Queen decided to take the "rehash formula" of The Works and expand upon it, also adding much more hard rock that was reminiscent of their 70s heyday. More importantly, it feels as though Queen sounded more fresh and inspired when it came to the songwriting and arrangements. Along with maintaining a nice array of varied riffs and more textural arrangements, there's some really heartfelt and beautiful stuff to offer as well. Essentially, this record represents the first step in pulling Queen out of the quicksand they put themselves in musically.

The album takes most of its lyrical inspiration from Highlander, giving many of the heavier tracks a more "epic" feel. This is mostly represented with songs such as the string-laden hard rock opener "One Vision," the slower and more distorted "Gimme the Prize," and album highlight "Princes of the Universe." The latter is particularly notable for featuring more of a heavy metal influence than the other songs, Brian May laying down some hard-hitting rhythm guitar work. The harmonized vocals are as fresh now as they were back then, providing those traditional bombastic arrangements we all know and love. "One Vision," while still rooted in 70s hard rock, begins drenched in lavish strings provided by a synthesizer played by Brian May. This gives a great backdrop for the rest of the song to build from, and the musicianship in the hard rock section that follows is as tight as ever.

The ballads can be hit-and-miss, but some are pretty great. I could go on for hours and hours about how good "Who Wants to Live Forever" is, for example. Beginning with a quiet, emotional verse sung by Brian May over a Yamaha keyboard, Freddie Mercury takes over on the next verse as the song builds steam. There's a really melancholic undertone to the piece, but once the chorus kicks in, sadness is all but forgotten. This is one of the great choruses in the history of rock music, combining beautiful harmonized vocal work from Freddie with a nicely orchestrated backdrop for said vocal melodies to follow. Once Brian May sings the final verse, "Who waits forever anyway," the song ends with food for thought for the listener and represents closure for a perfect piece of music. The other ballads can be good, but definitely don't reach the same level. "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure" and "Friends Will Be Friends" are your typical Queen affairs, and "One Year of Love" is just way too sappy at times, but the songs are at least serviceable ballads.

Unfortunately, the album is indeed very flawed. The ballads, as I said, are just kind of decent with one great exception, but two songs almost kill the album unless you're willing to look past them: the title track and "Don't Lose Your Head." The former is an extremely boring mid-tempo number that brings almost nothing to the table; it really feels like a B-side to The Works. The stretch from the middle to the end is particularly painful, with a bunch of melodies and vocal harmonies going absolutely nowhere while John Deacon just sits in the back and plays his bassline aimlessly. "Don't Lose Your Head" is also annoying, being an entirely forgettable dance number forged out of Hot Space's songwriting template. The vocals are a bit bland compared to Freddie's typical singing quality, and the programmed drum track just makes you wish for Roger Taylor to return to the kit as quickly as possible.

The reason this still gets a 3.5, though, is because the music that works well works REALLY well. The rockers are fantastic, the ballads range from decent to fantastic, and the music sounds like Queen returning to their old 70s glories with an 80s coat of paint. Despite some songs that almost derail this experience, I'd still recommend it. It's worth trudging through the flaws to get to the good stuff... or in this case, the wonderful stuff.



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user ratings (374)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
gblackman (2)
There are a few decent cuts on “A Kind of Magic,” although the ending of the album is disastrous...

TommasoA (3.5)
...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Necrotica
May 15th 2013


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

By popular demand, I finally got this done! I'll probably end up finishing the Queen discography since I'm already over halfway done

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


10652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Props for reviewing this album even though it's not among my favorites from Queen. You said it correctly, it's a pretty inconsistent album but Who Wants to Live Forever is one of my favorite Queen songs, very emotional song.



Great review too.

Digging: Legendry - Dungeon Crawler

Sciroccu
May 15th 2013


883 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great album indeed, i feel the same about it.

Necrotica
May 15th 2013


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the comments, guys :]

MeatSalad
May 15th 2013


17194 Comments


ONE
ONE
ONE VISION

TheNotrap
May 15th 2013


8641 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nostalgic stuff.

Their Wembley show is legendary.



Digging: Desolate Shrine - Deliverance From The Godless Void

scissorlocked
May 15th 2013


3527 Comments


best band

Digging: Rob Mazurek Octet - Skull Sessions

Dreamflight
May 15th 2013


1760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeahh finally a review that best suits this album.



awsome work bro, despite not agreeing with you on the title track.



Princes of the Universe and Who Wants to Live Forever are among the best stuff this band has ever crafted.

Necrotica
May 15th 2013


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you for the comments! Yeah, I used to enjoy the title track, but it really wore off me after a while

tempest--
May 16th 2013


20597 Comments


Albums rocks Queen are the best band ever

Necrotica
May 16th 2013


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hellyeah :]

deslad
June 5th 2013


601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album rocks Queen are the best band ever [2]

MrSirLordGentleman
February 4th 2015


11016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

WHO WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANTS

TO LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE

FOREVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2015


15803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Who waits forever anyway?

Digging: T. Rex - The Slider

MrSirLordGentleman
April 28th 2015


11016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Seriously, the vocals and the emotion in that song

romulanrancor
April 28th 2015


7395 Comments


gimme gimme gimme gimme FRIED CHICKEN!

Digging: BROCKHAMPTON - SATURATION III

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2015


15803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

dude Popeye's sounds dope right now

Gemini1979
March 29th 2016


32 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Definitely a well written review even if I don't agree with you on this album.

Worst songs: Gimme the Prize, Don't Lose Your Head

Who Wants to Live Forever and Princes of the Universe are pretty good, the rest okay.

romulanrancor
March 29th 2016


7395 Comments


it's a kind of magic

RogueNine
May 18th 2016


3385 Comments


GOTTA PASS THE TEST
FIRST TIIIIIIIIME



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