News of the World (1977)


 
1. We Will Rock You 2. We Are the Champions 3. Sheer Heart Attack 4. All Dead, All Dead 5. Spread Your Wings 6. Fight From the Inside 7. Get Down Make Love 8. Sleeping on the Sidewalk 9. Who Needs You 10.It's Late 11.My Melancholy Blues

 

Although this record is not considered by most to be in the same league as A Night at the Opera, I personally feel it belongs right up there with it. The sound here is a bit tighter, a bit leaner and it's definitely not as "operatic" as that record, nor its immediate predecessor A Day at the Races. This is Queen, however, so you'll hear plenty of style and plenty of variety, it's just much more focused. It's almost as if the boys purposely made a record that would sound just as strong live as it would on record.

You can't go wrong with the opening one-two punch of We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions. What's so ironic is how good these two songs sound together, since, stylistically, they're about as different as night and day. Perhaps it's the "sports" feel behind the two that gives them a common thread. I really dunno. This deserves credit, if anything, as being one of the very best, most well known rock and roll anthems of all time.

What's remarkable is that as soon as that song combo ends, the Queen guys throw the biggest (and they had some big ones) curve ball at us ever with Roger Taylor's Sheer Heart Attack that was probably intended as a punk rock answer all the critics whining about the overblown pomp of these guys. Even groups like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones would be envious of this cut. Strangely, it doesn't alienate any Queen fans - it just adds one more style in the Queen toy box. To date, it was also Taylor's strongest contributions. Oddly, had it not been for this song, Taylor could have claimed that same prize for his other track, the hard rocking Fight From the Inside which packs a pretty good punch as well.

The band all have individual credits here, and they all succeed remarkably. Bassist John Deacon, not a singer, contributes the beautiful Spread Your Wings that I confess I thought was a Freddie Mercury number. Apart from the above mentioned We Are the Champions, Mercury croons his best schmaltzy showman in My Melancholy Blues that is anything but rock and roll, but its par for the course for this kind of song on a Queen album, so the faithful have no problem. Mercury's other track, Get Down, Make Love, sounds a lot like a Brian May song. It's heavy and hard. Yes, it gets a bit bogged down in the middle with its heavy inclusion of synthesized special effects (it almost sounds like someone got a new synthesizer for Christmas, or something), but the overall track remains incredibly strong.

Near the end, the album slips a notch or two, but with so much strong stuff here, it never really brings the overall quality down. It helps when Brian May revitalizes the sound with the highly underrated, melodious cruncher It's Late. It's amazing how fresh this whole album sounds all these years later. And it's absolutely no surprise that this album was as well received as it was. This was Queen at the high point of their career.

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