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Queen - A Kind Of Magic CD (album) cover

A KIND OF MAGIC

Queen

 

Prog Related

3.03 | 329 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "There can be only one!"

In the 70's Queen was primarily an albums band. They did release singles even back then, but the album was clearly the important format for them (as for most Rock bands in the 70's, especially for those with any progressive aspirations). In the 80's, however, Queen (again, like many other Rock bands in those times) transformed into more of a singles band. If I'm not mistaken, every track from this album was either an a-side or a b-side on a single! Further, as many as five of the album's nine tracks had music videos made for them! All this is strong evidence that the album format was not as important as singles and music videos at this time and, sadly, the album suffered somewhat as a result. However, there is a loose concept or common theme to several of the songs on A Kind Of Magic (due to the fact that these songs were written for the film Highlander) that helps to hold it together very well in the end.

The most obvious sign of the fact that the band put priority on making strong singles and music videos rather than making a strong album is the presence on this album of a few songs that do not stand up very well on their own. In the 70's the songs that were released as singles were almost never the most interesting or best songs, but in the 80's - and particularly so on the present album - this was clearly the case. Several of the songs from this album are very good and a few of them are even truly excellent!

The album opens on a high note with One Vision and closes in even stronger fashion with the powerful Princes Of The Universe. Who Wants To Live Forever is, however, the centerpiece of the album. This is a truly beautiful song! Brian May gets a rare vocal performance here at the start of the song and his voice fits in perfectly and blends very well with the much more powerful voice of Freddie. The vocals, the lyrics, the guitars, the drums and the full symphony orchestra make this track into a very powerful and emotional moment. This is simply a great symphonic power ballad, and a definitive Rock classic. A true masterpiece song! Friends Will Be Friends is a real arena anthem with a strong chorus and great guitar play and a great instrumental break and guitar solo. The vocals are, needless to say, simply excellent.

Even though several songs from this album were used in the film Highlander, only Gimme The Prize has obvious connections to the film, incorporating pieces of conversation from the movie. Otherwise, this song is the hardest rocking and most guitar oriented track on this album. Sadly, I think that the dialogue from the film is slightly distracting and takes away from what otherwise could have been a another great song. It does, however, have an amazing guitar driven passage that starts at 2:36 into the track. This part sounds like it is inspired by the music of the Scottish highlands i.e. the melody sounds Celtic. I really love that part! The title track, on the other hand, is not a big favourite of mine. The beat is a bit too static and funky for my tastes. However, the song is saved by some really great guitar work towards the end.

One Year Of Love, Pain Is So Close To Pleasure and Don't Lose Your Head are the least good songs here and they are among the least good songs Queen ever recorded. But in the context of the other songs here, they still work to my satisfaction. The first of these songs includes a saxophone part which is very unexpected on a Queen album. Needless to say, these songs bring the album down a bit. But thankfully, they are reasonably well hidden among the other, far better, songs.

This album is, admittedly, uneven. The cover art is quite awful too, which further distracts from its value. But the better songs are so good that I cannot but give this album a high rating despite the few weak moments.

A Kind Of Magic was the best Queen album since A Day At The Races and remain highly enjoyable for me today after many years of listening.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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