‘Hot Space’: 42 Years On…


Hot Space album front

“New styles, and a whole new sense of values. You’ll love Hot Space …eventually.” Record Mirror

Queen’s tenth studio album Hot Space was recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland and Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany between September 1981 and March 1982.

It was produced by Queen and Mack, the man who had made such a significant contribution to previous albums. Mack also engineered the LP, with David Richards, who would go on to enjoy a long working relationship with the band lasting until the very last album fourteen years later. The last track on the album, Under Pressure, was produced by Queen and David Bowie.

After the success of 1980’s The Game and then a huge ground-breaking South America tour in February and March of 1981, the band headed for the recording studio they had recently purchased, Mountain Studios in Montreux, to see what would happen. They had no new material to work on, just a few ideas, but this was nothing new to Queen or their various associate producers, and soon a flurry of songs emerged.

Queen were greatly prolific during this period and in addition to the eleven songs that ultimately made the album, several further tracks were started but never finished. This was not unusual for Queen at this time; certain ideas remained in the archive in various states of development only to be revisited years later for subsequent albums.

Like The Game, two years earlier, Hot Space was a huge departure for Queen in terms of musical direction. With such a massive international hit, Another One Bites The Dust (1980), behind them – and a No 1 in America – it probably came as no surprise that the band would want to continue down the disco/funk path to some extent. This policy did however make the album less popular with some fans; those who preferred the traditional heavier rock style they had come to expect from Queen. Hot Space does have its heavy moments, though; Brian’s Put Out The Fire and Dancer, for example, contain some of the most aggressive guitar work of any Queen album.

Also using the studio at this time was an old friend of the band, David Bowie. Producer David Richards suggested they should meet up and see what happened. No one imagined it would work as well as it did, or that an international No 1 smash hit was to follow. After a jam session late into the night, and with a couple of demos recorded, the five musicians recognised they had the essence of a new song. After much work the following day, and a myriad of title changes and tempos later, the piece would emerge as Under Pressure, most recognisable for John’s distinctive bass line, and the rest is history. The single would be included on the new Hot Space album as the closing track and would be the first single issued from it.

Released in the UK on 21st May 1982, and four days later in the USA, Hot Space reached No.4 in the UK, achieving Gold sales status – as it did in the U.S. too. Although not reaching the dizzy heights of success its predecessor The Game achieved, the album sold better in Europe, reaching No.1 in Austria and No.2 in Holland, as well as top ten chart positions throughout the rest of the continent.

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