KIND OF MAGIC What
Classic Rock Said
Release Date: 2/6/86
Highest Chart Position: 1
One Vision (4/11/85), 7
A Kind Of Magic (17/3/86), 3
Friends Will Be Friends (9/6/86), 14
Who Wants To Live Forever (15/9/86), 24
This is one of those classically chart-friendly rockers, which I suspect was mainly words by Freddie and music by Brian - after the last album ended on their collaboration Is This The World We Created?, this album follows on straight from that with this song, which is for all intensive purposes an extension of that song. This is quite superb, Freddie in fine voice, the age-old cry of "let's all try and live together in harmony", it's clichéd, but it works very well.
A Kind Of Magic
Writer: Roger Taylor #Aside, of course, from John Deacon, the only member of the band that really knows what he's doing with bass riffs is Roger Taylor, and this is a very catchy one indeed. This is essentially the theme song to Highlander - everything in the lyrics is about the plot of that film, "there can be only one", etc. Another one to have you bopping along after a few hearings. Most definitely. However, it is another "standard pop" song - although it's not quite got such a strong synthesiser presence as Radio Ga Ga. Typically chart friendly. Nothing brilliant, but it is certainly very good.
One Year Of Love
Writer: John Deacon
Another of those ballads that Freddie sings so beautifully, another one about the cliché of "better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all", and the pleasures associated with the simple things, and the longing. The saxophone solo in the middle is exquisite. The rest of the instrumentals are slightly lacking, though. Something isn't quite there. It's still lovely, though.
Pain Is So Close
Writer: Freddie Mercury/John Deacon
A keyboard intro that seems to have been around for ever, here. It sounds familiar. Then Freddie goes into Bee Gees style falsetto for the lyrics here. A song you could just about imagine the Brothers Gibb doing at times. The instrumentals are excellent. The vocal performance is fine. The one thing out of place is the lyrics. They could have had slightly more depth. As it is it just scratches the surface of this fascinating subject. But still good.
Friends Will Be
Writer: Freddie Mercury/John Deacon
Another simple message here, and a simple message that doesn't need to be anything else. Friends will be friends, no matter what. You may not have anybody to really love, but if your friends are rallied around you, then you're safe. Lyrically, it is a little bit of a story, and quite basic, but it works. The opening guitar passage works a treat, although the rest of the instrumentals are slightly lacking. Freddie isn't putting quite as much energy as normal into the verses, but as the chorus reaches its climax, that power voice kicks in. You can just picture the arms swaying in concert to this one.
Who Wants To Live
Writer: Brian May
Another deep emotional ballad, this time by Brian. The soft tones of the intro pave the way for the depth of the whole song. Brian starts it off by singing the first verse beautifully, before handing over to Freddie, who does his usual job of it - I can't help but wonder how it would sound with just Brian singing this one. As it is, it is brilliant anyway. The orchestral part lends itself to this stunning song, and Brian's guitar solo in the middle is perfect. The theme of the song is from Highlander, about living forever and loving a mortal, and knowing that mortal will grow old and die, and having to watch it happening, but that isn't really important. This song can be generalised. Not that it matters either way, it is beautiful, a sheer treasure.
Gimme The Prize!
Writer: Brian May
Another Highlander song, this is Kurgan's theme (the villain). An all out rocker, even heavier than Let Me Entertain You, this is very aggressive. Clearly from the film - it contains pieces of dialogue in parts. That doesn't particularly appeal to me. Every other song from the film could be listened to independently - Who Wants To Live Forever, A Kind Of Magic, Don't Lose Your Head, even Princes Of The Universe, but this one is inescapably linked. Added to that, the song doesn't particularly go anywhere, it's just a villain getting cocky and making the usual grand announcements to the general public. Forgettable, I feel.
Don't Lose Your Head
Writer: Roger Taylor
Well, certainly a bit modern in the instrumentals this time! Not that it's a bad thing. The song is quite ordinary, nothing special, but tolerable. Another simple point, the third such song on this album, and painfully obvious, the age-old maxim "love conquers everything". Freddie gives his all on the vocals, as per usual, but it doesn't really sound like his heart is in it - it almost sounds as if he's not very keen on the song when he is singing it. On the B-side of A Kind Of Magic was an instrumental called A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling, which is basically an instrumental version of this. Hmmm.
Of The Universe
Writer: Freddie Mercury
About time Freddie wrote something alone! Another heavy track, this time the heroes' theme from Highlander. Freddie is really letting his hair down on this one, having much more fun. In other words, good vocals. Excellent guitar solo in the middle, this song is a good end to the album (see In General). A song that should pick up anybody's fighting spirit. Comparable to We Are The Champions. This would have worked a treat live.
In General: After Princes Of The Universe, there are three "extra magical ingredients": "A Kind Of 'A Kind Of Magic'", and "Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends . . .", which are just remixes of the originals, and "Forever", which is a piano version of Who Wants To Live Forever. As such, they are variations, and don't warrant reviewing. A decent album. Not quite among their best, it's a little erratic from time to time, but its OK. There's nothing worth getting if you've already got the Greatest Hits, but it holds its own. Get this early on, before any Hits compilations, and you'll enjoy it more. The Best Song Musically: Well, it's hard to pin down the best one here - for the first time in a long time (if at all!), it is difficult picking out one that really stands out from the masses. Who Wants To Live Forever, and A Kind Of Magic, I would have to say, but there's no conviction in my heart on this.
The Best Song Lyrically: Who Wants To Live Forever is the clear winner here. Nothing else comes close. Second would be Pain Is So Close To Pleasure, with Friends Will Be Friends in third.
The Best Song Vocally: Two songs stand out here, One Year Of Love and Princes Of The Universe. If forced to choose, I would have to say Princes Of The Universe.
The Best Song All-Round: Who Wants To Live Forever, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Nothing comes close. One Vision would have to be a distant second. The Worst Song: Don't Lose Your Head, I feel. It's just . . . not quite right. Gimme The Prize also deserves a mention.
Average rating for the whole album: 7.1
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