September 26, 2008
What, exactly, is Queen? Such existential questions are rare in the world of popular music but this one has become inescapably urgent with this month's release of The Cosmos Rocks. Should we consider this the latest addition to the supergroup's bulging discography? Can there be Queen after Freddie Mercury?
It is true that distinctive frontmen have proven replaceable in the past. AC/DC has easily outlived Bon Scott. But Queen is different. It is not merely Mercury's voice - arguably the greatest in rock history - that makes this so.
Mercury was a uniquely awesome combination: showmanship, compositional wizardry and an extraordinary capacity for effortless creative risk. It is not right to say Mercury was Queen, for that misses that he needed his colleagues too: his mundane solo material suddenly zinged to life when treated posthumously by them on Made in Heaven. But so elemental was he that there is simply no surviving him.
And The Cosmos Rocks proves it. Here, "Queen" (really just Brian May and Roger Taylor) join Paul Rodgers (of Free and Bad Company) for 14 new tracks. Rodgers is a quality singer with a pedigree.
In the '70s, Deep Purple approached him to replace their departed singer. He declined. He should have declined this one too. To listen to any Queen song sung by someone other than Mercury is merely to see what a peerless talent he was.
But more troubling here is that every track could be any other rock band. It is not that it is uniformly awful, though chunks of it are pedestrian and the lyrics are catastrophic. It is just that it is unflinchingly unoriginal. Cosmos Rockin' is a solid rock track but it is basically Johnny B Goode with bigger amps.
May's cool riffs on Voodoo decorate what is probably the album's most interesting chord progression but even that is only relative; it would be standard elsewhere.
Then there is a parade of songs, best represented by We Believe, that are, frankly, cliched beyond redemption.
With the possible exception of the single, C-Lebrity, it's difficult to imagine Mercury singing any of these songs.
This is, in short, the very opposite of a Queen album. The band's signatures - thick backing vocals and multilayered, orchestral guitar tracks - make only rare token appearances.
More fundamentally, there is nothing of Queen's soul here. This was a band that almost never repeated itself musically - even within a song. Tracks of multiple movements and endless variety defined them.
Gone here is the daring creativity and experimentation that was Queen's engine. The band that brought us The Prophet's Song, Innuendo and of course Bohemian Rhapsody has long since departed.
This is best received as the first release of an entirely new entity: Queen + Paul Rodgers. Even INXS remained INXS when Jon Stevens replaced Michael Hutchence in 2002.
The "+" is an admission of Mercury's uniqueness and that Queen do not simply go on. This at least provides Queen fans with an escape clause.
Waleed Aly is a Melbourne writer and broadcaster who is recovering from his unhealthy Queen obsession.
|Couldn't agree more.|
|Very well written, and unfortunately - spot on.|
the guy wrote: AC/DC has easily outlived Bon Scott.I must be the last person on Earth that doesn't agree.
From a commercial standpoint, of course it was a good move replacing him... but I mean really. That guy with the hat isn't fit to carry Bon Scott's mic - he sounds like a gurgling troll.
|Indeed. Well said too - I've always liked Waleed Aly, and now I like him a little more.
More Salam Cafe please!
|Think this guy has got it absolutely spot on.
I know many Queen fans on here are blindly loyal and won't hear a bad word about the band..and it doesn't rest easy with me too that this album is not of "Queen" standard.
But we have to be honest...although Frddie was only 25% of the band, Queen died along with him and this is the proof...(awaits loads of abuse)
The album is ok and I'll buy any forthcoming albums as I still like Brian and Rodger (and Paul)...but it's just not Queen anymore...the spark has gone
To me its a bit like a world class footballer who plays on in his career untill he's 40 years old...his skill diminishes and his fans are left with a faded memory of somone who carried on past his prime.
|I have to agree also. That review was spot on. I am a huge Queen fan and used to get picked on constantly growing up, as it is not cool or 'fashionable' to be a Queen fan in the southern USA. I saw QPR in Jacksonville, FL 2 years ago and was amazed and extremely happy that I could finally see 'Queen'. But after finally listening to the new album (I had it imported), I am extremely disappointed. It is garbage. The lyrics are so cheesy and horrible they make me cringe. There is no real rock muscle on this album. It is a bad Paul Rodgers cd with the name 'Queen' out in front. People, this is NOT 'Queen'. There is nothing 'Queen' about this album.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some Paul Rodgers hater that thinks Queen doesn't exist without Freddie Mercury. It's not that at all. But, I do think they could have done better than this piece of crap. Some of the songs sound like Christian rock (We Believe). Others do nothing for me whatsoever. Again, I'm not a QPR hater. I just think this album blows. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks so. Just be honest with yourselves.
Lost is the creativity that was Queen. Just look at the fact that they released the 1981 Montreal concert 4 times on video over the years. Look at the dreadful Stone Cold Classics cd released here in the US with incorrect liner notes. Look at the ROTC dvd with no bonus features. Don't let me get started on Q+GH3. That was total trash. No promotion at all down here in the USA anymore for any thing they do. Queen Rocks was great but I doubt anyone listened to the mix of it to pick up on the click/glitch at the beginning of FBG. This shit would have never passed in the past.
Face it, Brian and Roger have lost all creativity.
|I have to say that the review is getting in the right direction, however I can't say that the album is complete shite as there is some good stuff on it.
I have never looked at this project as Queen and would certainly say that I would still buy 'Queen' product (eg Brian, Roger etc) regardless (so if Brian says the band was called 'Green Onions' then I would have bought this!).
The downside is the complete cheesyness of some of the tracks and lyrical suicide in several songs. I would give the album 2 out of 5.
|Sheer Brass Neck
|Well, unlike 98% of the posters here, the reviewer understands music and art. Queen is not a name only, it's a spirit and a belief. Freddie Mercury was the greatest singer who ever lived, and Brian May is one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived. Yet Freddie, despite his amazing voice and presence, would have been a terrible front man for Zeppelin or Genesis as an example. And Brian, despite being 10 times the studio and live guitarist that Jimmy Page was, would have been terrible in Zeppelin. It's because the chemistry of four people created something special in Queen's music. The unwashed masses who love Paul Rodgers as a vocalist (and he has a fabulous voice) don't understand that having a great voice is only one part of the equation. He's missing the rest of the package that Freddie and Freddie alone had. I think the saddest thing is that all the people who get shouted down at QZ who understand what Queen was could see this coming a mile away. The people who discuss Brian and Roger's "right" to be called Queen understnad that, but don't understand chemistry. Hot Space may have sucked to some people, but it was out there, and a fabulous failure due to the band's ambition. Queen was never predictable. Paul Rodgers may well be a better live singer than Freddie, but musically he is super predictable. Shame, but they knew they were going to get shit on if they used the name Queen, and it's happening all over. The followers will blame the reviewers, but there has to be some truth in their words.|
|Ray D O'Gaga
|Here's the thing, folks - the band is extant, the record is out, people are buying it, people are enjoying it, people are going to see the band on tour. If you think its trash, fine. If you think its shit or shite or whatever, fine. If it makes you feel vindicated that some reviewers hate the record, more power to you. If you feel better venting your spleens and spewing bile all over, knock yourselves out. Either way, the album's going to sell, a lot of people are going to enjoy it, and the tour is going to be very successful. And if that's not your bag, please feel free to stay home and listen to your old CDs and watch your old videos. The rest of us will continue living in the present and enjoying the band's work for what it is and not for what it isn't because a man died 17 years ago.
And for the record, calling Hot Space "a fabulous failure due to the band's ambition" doesn't make it true. Hot Space was, for the overwhelming part, the hackiest work in the band's catalogue made by four burned out musicians who were trying to continue riding a formerly successful trend that petered out before they got their record on the market. Everyone knows that Freddie was the driving force behind Hot Space, and following a super-successful disco single up with a mostly disco album is nothing *but* predictable - boringly precitable, in fact. Pathetically predictable, and it arguably threw off the band's entire career progression. They had been getting progressively bigger and bigger and bigger until the commercially calculated but ultimately complete non-event of Hot Space called everything to a screeching halt, forced a year off, and necessitated a modestly interesting but far from spectacular back-to-basics record in the form of The Works. So if we're speaking plainly about the Q+PR record, let's speak plainly about everything and stop couching even the band's failures in the light of something great. In the end, they're all just bloody records.
|It's good to see that there are still some inteligent comments here after all, apart from the fanatical and blind ones. Most of the fans that are supporting this whole project look like they are in a deep denial (pretty much like these who wish Freddie was still alive, though)... "we are fans, we can't betray Brian and Roger". That's fine, too.
There are so many brilliant observations in these previous points. But at the same time we have...
And for the record, calling Hot Space "a fabulous failure due to the band's ambition" doesn't make it true. Hot Space was, for the overwhelming part, the hackiest work in the band's catalogue made by four burned out musicians who were trying to continue riding a formerly successful trend that petered out before they got their record on the market.And how is this not a failure?
Hot Space makes a very good comparison subject with TCR. Although the latter is a bit better, I bet that when the Original Queen (as someone else said, caps and all) released Hot Space they thought it would be innovative/creative/whatever. "Look, the fans let us use synths! Let's try that again!". The good point in both albums is that they at least tried. Failed, but tried.
Ray D O'Gaga wrote: Here's the thing, folks - the band is extant, the record is out, people are buying it, people are enjoying it, people are going to see the band on tour. If you think its trash, fine. If you think its shit or shite or whatever, fine. If it makes you feel vindicated that some reviewers hate the record, more power to you. If you feel better venting your spleens and spewing bile all over, knock yourselves out. Either way, the album's going to sell, a lot of people are going to enjoy it, and the tour is going to be very successful. And if that's not your bag, please feel free to stay home and listen to your old CDs and watch your old videos. The rest of us will continue living in the present and enjoying the band's work for what it is and not for what it isn't because a man died 17 years ago. And for the record, calling Hot Space "a fabulous failure due to the band's ambition" doesn't make it true. Hot Space was, for the overwhelming part, the hackiest work in the band's catalogue made by four burned out musicians who were trying to continue riding a formerly successful trend that petered out before they got their record on the market. If we're speaking plainly about the Q_PR record, let's speak plainly about everything.I don't know if you're a young man or not but it doesn't really matter anyway. You make good sense. This thing is happening and it also seems to be working. All 3 of them seem very happy and that to me is whats important. 15 years ago I played in a band myself, we did covers and we did a lot of our own stuff but were obviously not good enough to get picked up. But I do remember that the most important thing to us was to have fun. As serious as we took ourselves we always made sure we enjoyed what we were doing because thats what music is all about, fun and entertainment. These guys are obviously having fun, they're entertaining thousands of people nightly so whats the big deal? Just live in the present and cherish the past.
My mother died when I was 15 years old. 12 years later my Dad remarried. Neither myself or my siblings think that he was in some way disrespecting our mother but merely moving on with his life and enjoying himself. This situation to me is much bigger than weather Brian and Roger call themselved Queen or not and something tells me that Freddie would agree with me.
Its only music, its supposed to be fun. Live in the now and enjoy. I know I am.
|Sheer Brass Neck
|But the point of Hot Space as a failure, Ray, is that Queen were a rock band. Hot Space has some fantastic moments musically, ruined by poor instrumentation. And some totally shit songs! But at least they weren't trying to re-do Queen I, or ADATR, or Jazz. Up until Hot Space, each Queen album was different, and as the reviewer said, very few songs in the catalogue sounded similar to one another. With TCR, you have a warmed over batch of cliched rock and blues rock songs. To me, Queen were a rock band first and foremost, filled wit bizarre twists and turns that seperated them from their peers. TCR is more like a Bad comapany album, well played, but utterly obvious.
And finally, and this is not just aimed at you, who isn't getting on with their life because they don't like TCR? That's as absurd as the notion that all bloggers live in their parent's basements and are angy people. I recently bought the new Extreme disc, and it's adventurous and filled with new sounds. I don't see TCR as anything but obvious. Queen music, for my money, from the first album to Jazz, was art. TCR is product, cynically put together under the Queen banner to ensure sales. You can call it Queen, but it's not "Queen" music. Nobody who is against it is sitiing around wearing a skinny tie and listening to LP's of ANATO, but while music is always subjective, if the albums from Queen II to NOTW are 9's or 10's on a scale of 1 to 10, TCR for a lot of fans is a 2 or 3, bereft of clever ideas and filled with cliched riffs and hacky lyrics. Doesn't mean anything other than the fact that you and others are happy to see and hear the new incarnation, which is great, others believe that Queen as a creative entity had their day and the new stuff is unworthy of the Queen name. simple stuff.
|Ok! This album is by QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS .... IT IS NOT CALLED QUEEN.|
|Nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way.|
|I'm glad to finally see a fair review. Whilst personally I like the album, I guess I dont really listen to it as a Queen album and maybe thats why. If this album was by any other new unknown band then I reckon it would get some very good reviews and musically it would deserve them. By using the Queen brand name they have have a presence in the market and a solid fan base, but also they overwhelming legacy of what Queen were. So I guess most queen fans would probably agree with me that whilst this is a good album it's not a queen album and shouldnt have been called the new queen album. On the otherhand, commercially for a band thats set list that still contains the bulk of Queen songs we can also see why they decided to use the name. so, musically i agree that its lacking the sole of Queens work, i agree thats its shallower and the lyrics are terrible, I agree that Paul rodgers is good but limited but ultimately hey, its new music for us queen buffs to enjoy and pick apart and i reckon that if we try not to think about it to much then maybe we can enjoy it for what it is. The best rock album of the year. Not queens best rock album. But in a musically depressing time this is pretty bloody good stuff.|
|The opinion that Hot Space was a work of an ambitious band is definitely put to an end by the bandmembers own stories abou the recording sessions, with a band drunk and drugged out of its heads most of the time, conflicts within the band and the production company and some bandmembers more interested in going clubbing than being in the studio.
And about that denial bullshit, if the only people who like this are a few die-hards in denial, who the f*ck are all the these hundreds of thousands of people going to see them in concert, many of them having a great time judging by the reviews on this site, buying the record etc.
Especially when all this "fan outrage" is lead by a few people, one of whom lied about returning the album to the store, one who wants Brian and Roger to stop their careers so that he can have some half-finished outtakes in his collection and the guy who cliams that Freddie Mercury was god. All of them have been obsessively opposed to this from the start.
For the record, I am not fanatical, driven by loyalty or anything. Something youd all know if you saw my record collection. I still like this and so does many others, respect that.
"And about that denial bullshit, if the only people who like this are a few die-hards in denial, who the f*ck are all the these hundreds of thousands of people going to see them in concert, many of them having a great time judging by the reviews on this site, buying the record etc."
You seem to be missing a few steps in your logical deduction here.
Just because there are people going to the concerts desn't mean that all those people are interested in buying the new album, let alone like the album.
They didn't sell 350,000 copies of the album in Ukraine did they?
Another variation of the same logical flaw can be seen in the UK situation.
100,000 sold tickets doesn't mean there are 100,000 people who love the new album... for starters it was released after all those tickets had been sold!
Where that 100,000 tickets really comes from is the amount of people who have the GH 1 and 2 albums at home. There are literally millions of such people living in the UK, and judging by the setlist that is precisely who the concerts are aimed at.
Talk about denial!
kingogre wrote: The opinion that Hot Space was a work of an ambitious band is definitely put to an end by the bandmembers own stories abou the recording sessions, with a band drunk and drugged out of its heads most of the time, conflicts within the band and the production company and some bandmembers more interested in going clubbing than being in the studio.
You mean Freddie, right? As in "the band"?
Marcos Napier wrote:
kingogre wrote: The opinion that Hot Space was a work of an ambitious band is definitely put to an end by the bandmembers own stories abou the recording sessions, with a band drunk and drugged out of its heads most of the time, conflicts within the band and the production company and some bandmembers more interested in going clubbing than being in the studio.You mean Freddie, right? As in "the band"?
I'm sure he does mean Freddie yes as I can't really see John or Brian drugged out of it can you?. Roger is of course another discussion.
But I can't help thinking that he's right. If Freddie in the early 80s had been as dedicated to queen and its music as he was to shit solo albums, drinking, drugs, clubbing and his relentless persuit of COCK then perhaps the early 80s albums may have been even better and more importantly he may even still be here today and we wouldn't have to have these stupid threads about weather queen is really queen. Or perhaps John would have retired by now anyway and everyone would be bitching about Freddie, Roger and Brian using the queen name without John
|This can imply that Freddie was the only one that was responsible for what the band did then (and forever, according to some). He wasn't and isn't, although he was an important part of it all. It's like saying Hot Space failed because of Freddie - or the lack of him, physically.|
|Marcos Napier wrote: This can imply that Freddie was the only one that was responsible for what the band did then (and forever, according to some). He wasn't and isn't, although he was an important part of it all. It's like saying Hot Space failed because of Freddie - or the lack of him, physically.
Hot Space failed because it was shit. I don't think Brian was responsible for that and neither do I think Roger was. John probably had involvement but I'm reletively sure Hot Space was a vision of Freddies and it didnt work, just look at the next album there is no comparison in style at all and Brian and Rogers writing is more prominant plus obviously John with Break Free. Freddies best track on The Works is Hard Life and thats hardly a fantastic effort is it?
Someone quite crudely put it earlier in the thread that the early 80s saw Freddie more interested in the excesses of drink, drugs and sex than queens quality of product. He/She may have put it in a crude way but he may have hit the nail on the head that not only did the bands output suffer but perhaps Freddie would still be here today and nobody would need to argue about the Paul Rodgers influence. Put thats rock n roll! Well for some!
|You're right, HS failed because it was shit. A nice try, but shit. And that's my point too. If it was mostly a Freddie's work (which I doubt), just in case Brian, Roger or John didn't have any desire to hurt Freddie's feelings and say it sucked, it seems that this can make the QPR haters to assume that TCR is bad because Freddie isn't there and that he was always the boss and the most important part in Queen blah blah, that's my other point. And it's not because of that...
Yesterday just for curiosity I was checking some of Paul's old stuff which as I've said, I'm not familiar with. And... TCR is far from his stuff as well (quality-wise and in style), mostly Free.
| Anyone who sees this "album" as anything more then a paycheck
is either deaf, nodding on heroin. or both. It's plain blasphemy that the Queen name
is being torn to shreds in this fashion. Im sure the man that wrote "Bohemian Rhapsody"
is rolling in his grave (or under his cherry tree) right now.
|LOL!!! ROFL!!! "Blasphemy"!!!
That's so sick and so funny at the same time. Really now. Blasphemy, lol!!! [img=/images/smiley/msn/teeth_smile.gif][/img] [img=/images/smiley/msn/teeth_smile.gif][/img] [img=/images/smiley/msn/teeth_smile.gif][/img]
Freddie didn't see himself as God. Freddie wanted that people just have fun and enjoy the music. He thought that it was all about only "bloody records". He once said: "When I'm dead, who cares? I don't." He encouraged Brian to go on with his career while he himself was dying. And he sang a song called The Show Must Go On.
Enough said. I bet he had much more common sense than most of the QPR-haters in here...
|Ronald...kind words for Queen specially for Freddie!theyre human like anybody else...|
|Stop being unrespectful to Freddie ..face it that Queen without Freddie is like a porche car that no driver can drive it!!!! thats from Elton John comment.
We love Queen no doubt and NO ONE in this world can fill his shoe
fmarsong wrote: Stop being unrespectful to Freddie ..face it that Queen without Freddie is like a porche car that no driver can drive it!!!! thats from Elton John comment. We love Queen no doubt and NO ONE in this world can fill his shoe
Well, you guys should stop being disrespectful to Queen as a band in the first place and stop seeing it as Freddie's personal band or something similar. Before you make claims that other people be respectful to Freddie.
Elton John of course is entitled to his own opinion. So are you. And so am I. And so are all the users on QZ forum. I do not agree with Elton John's take, although it was a nice metaphor at the time he said it. I don't think that Freddie was the driver of Queen, my opinion is that the other three members were just as important as Freddie was. Queen just doesn't need any driver, because the music of Queen in itself is their driving force.
Paul Rodgers is doing a good job. Not trying to fill in Freddie's shoes. He and the other two guys repeatedly stated that Paul is not replacing Freddie and is just being himself, but some people are too deaf to hear it and too blind to read it, it seems! Some of you might not like the result of the collaboration. Some of us do like the output (the tours, the new album, the live downloads, the DVD etc.). Each of the two sides are entitled to their own opinion. And each one of us needs to respect the others' opinions. But, alas, this seldom happens on QZ!!!
I love Queen no doubt too, rest assured. I love Freddie a lot, he means so much to me, due to him I became a very gay-friendly person and ultimately ended up as a gay rights activist in my country. But first and foremost, I love the music of Queen, that one music that changed my life in so many ways. I can only be glad that the music is still alive. And I am glad that I managed to attend one of the shows. I think that one can love both Queen's output with Freddie and Queen's output with Paul. They're not mutually exclusive. And I reckon that a few people might like more Queen + Paul Rodgers than the old Queen. The planet is huge and no doubt there are at least a few people who feel this way. As I said, there is huge need for respecting each other's opinions in the Queen fans' community...