The Works (1984)


 
1. Radio Ga Ga 2. Tear it Up 3. It's a Hard Life 4. Man on the Prowl 5. Machines (Back to Humans) 6. I Want to Break Free 7. Keep Passing the Open Windows 8. Hammer to Fall 9. Is This the World We Created...?

 

After the last couple of records where the guys did an awful lot of flirting with the dance-funk style, they wisely went back to their roots on this record after the aforementioned style fizzled out with 1982's Hot Space. You have to wonder if they were sweating a bit in the recording studio since times had changed quite drastically since they last put out a "typical" Queen album. What makes this record so strong is that although they're embracing the sounds and feels of the new decade, they don't let it swallow nor overpower them. They simply make a great album with great music even if it is speckled with some keyboards and synthesizers.

Consider Roger Taylor's album opener Radio Ga-Ga. This song really never rocks, and the steady pulsating drums throughout the song give it that distinctive dated sound, yet the overall song has such strong appeal, that it's hard not to sing along to the sentimental yearnings of days gone by. Like all of their great records, though, the guys are all over the place in terms of style. The only other genuinely dated song, Machines (Back to Humans), I must confess took me quite some time to digest, but I've developed a fondness for the song, and find myself giving Queen even more credit for expanding their sound once again while not disappointing.

They rock hard on the awesome Hammer to Fall and Tear it Up, which makes you believe guitarist Brian May is flexing his muscles that were probably somewhat restrained on the above mentioned Hot Space. Freddie Mercury turns out the great rock-abilly follow up to Crazy Little Thing Called Love from The Game with the equally enjoyable Man on the Prowl.

Speaking of the album The Game, the song here It's a Hard Life sounds a bit too similar to Play the Game from that album. There are a few other times, such as Keep Passing the Open Windows when the guys sound "good", without necessarily being great, but overall, the strong diversity of this album brings back the glory days in a big way.

On a peculiar note, the band seemed to all but die in the U.S. around this time. I've never been able to figure out whey their music was mostly ignored in the States starting with this album. They were still, rightly, amazingly popular in just about every other location in the world. Very strange.

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