The Queen Reviews

INNUENDO What Classic Rock Said Other Reviews:
Whaddya Mean - Vox Mar 01
"..unfortunately Queen sound like they are asleep"

Release Date: 4/2/91
Highest Chart Position: 1
All tracks composed by Queen,
except "All God's People" by Queen &
Mike Moran, but see individual reviews
for the prominent writer in each song.
Innuendo (14/1/91), 1
I'm Going Slightly Mad (4/3/91), 22
Headlong (13/5/91), 14
The Show Must Go On (14/10/91), 16
These Are The Days Of Our Lives (9/12/91), 1

Writer: Roger Taylor

The first single from the album, this is the only possible choice for the opening track. It would also have been the best choice of openers for a live performance. From the moment the snare roll starts, your attention is focused on the song. This modern piece of rock-opera is the 90's answer to Bohemian Rhapsody, so it came as a surprise to me to find that it was mainly Roger and not Freddie behind this one. I think the main idea in this song is about doing one's best - "we'll keep on trying, 'til the end of time". Freddie's vocals are immense as ever, Roger's drumming will focus you instantly, John is reliable as ever, and Brian's guitarwork is impeccable (the initial solo is by Steve Howe, which Brian repeats later) - to pick a particular star in this song would be unfair - everybody shines. The 90's answer to Bohemian Rhapsody? Better, I'd say.

Rating: 10

I'm Going Slightly Mad
Writer: Freddie Mercury

After the majesty of the opener, the album takes a funny twist with this one, going to an atmosphere of eeriness. A very honest song on Freddie's part (given that he really was going slightly mad), and typically Freddie, he can have a laugh about anything, including his health. I must say, I am surprised this one was released as a single, it doesn't strike me as particularly chart-friendly. Not to say that it is not a good song - it most decidedly is (although it took me a few hearings to realise this), although it is perhaps a little ahead of its time. Freddie is his usual self, not letting you realise how ill he is - it is only when Brian launches into the guitar solo that the sadness of the song becomes apparent. This song is best experienced with the video, but good fun to listen to on its own. It really is great. And a song that everyone will be able to identify with at times.

Rating: 8

Writer: Brian May

Here is where the pace picks up now, with a typically hard Brian May rocker, quite unlike anything Queen have done before, bordering on metal. However, with the lyrics, there is a definite resemblance to Crazy Little Thing Called Love, although that was Freddie and this is unquestionably Brian. Hard rock, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, pounded out mercilessly by Freddie, while Brian and Roger do the rocking. This one is a more natural choice for a single, it has chart-friendliness stamped all over it, it is out of the mould in that respect, although I must again stress unique in itself. This is certainly a decent song, although not particularly memorable. It would, however, have been a surefire thing for live shows, had they been in a condition to do a tour for this album. Another great single.

Rating: 8

I Can't Live With You
Writer: Brian May

Another Brian rocker, although a little less aggressive. The guitar intro is in a major key, for a start. Actually, I was convinced that this song was John's. This song is more instantly likeable than anything else on the album. Freddie puts his all into the vocals, punctuated with a recurring phrase on the guitar after each line in such a way as to stick in your head. And as for the chorus line, "I can't live with you - but I can't live without you!" that is a very memorable bit of music that will have you singing along whether you want to or not. A great song by any definition of the word.

Rating: 8

Don't Try So Hard
Writer: Queen (no single writer has been confirmed for this one)

It is worth mentioning here that no single writer has been ascertained for this song, although everyone apart from Roger has been suggested. Personally, I think it has elements of all four members. Popular suspicion is that it is John, but I think that could be because everything else has been confirmed for this album, and none of it's his. However, it's as valid a guess as anything. After the heavy start to the album, the tone is softened considerably here. From the moment you hear that twinkling intro, you know that you can relax with this one, just sit back and follow where Freddie's voice takes you. With such a beautiful delivery as he gives in the verses, it could almost move you to tears. The sudden explosion of the chorus is then a little surprising, but not at all out of place. Roger suddenly explodes into action, and Freddie gives it his all, with spectacular results. It is not the sort of song that you would think to release as a single, but would not have been out of place as a B-side, or even as a double-A with something (it was just an album track) - in its gentle parts, it is similar in style to Is This The World We Created, relaxing and beautiful. This one is definitely the highlight of the album tracks.

Rating: 9

Ride The Wild Wind
Writer: Roger Taylor

Back to the rockers again, and another one that would have been brilliant for live shows. In fact, almost a natural choice for a single. As Freddie starts singing, you are not quite sure what direction the song is going to take, until he comes to the last line of the chorus, and Roger begins pounding away on his drums, and Freddie's voice takes on a very husky tone for the verses (at first, I wasn't 100% convinced it was Freddie), to the point where you could imagine him suddenly being blown away by a strong enough gust of wind (especially at the end). This song seems to be about a form of escape - and actually is one in itself. It is Roger's Headlong, but significantly better. They knew that heads would bang for this one!

Rating: 8

All God's People
Writer: Freddie Mercury & Mike Moran

The B-side to Headlong, this is distinctly lacking in the goodness that has so far shone vibrantly throughout the album. There had to be one somewhere on the album, and this is the letdown track in my opinion. This song was originally written during the sessions that produced Freddie's duet album with Montserrat Caballé, Barcelona, but got shelved until Innuendo. I would have been quite happy myself if this one had stayed on the shelf, it seems to be nothing more than Freddie preaching to the masses. There is, however, one little good bit in the song, the instrumental part of the fade-out has an atmosphere of menacing quality. But that's not enough for me to give it more than I have, however.

Rating: 4

These Are The Days Of Our Lives
Writer: Roger Taylor

After the nose-dive that the end of the first side took, the opener to side two does more than enough to put the album back on the straight and narrow. Written by Roger, this song clearly has ancestral roots in Drowse, that being a similarly reflective song through the eyes of an older man looking back at life. The idea of looking back at happy memories, but at the same time, the feeling of resignation at the state of things now - this song is the perfect goodbye. In fact, it's perfect, full stop. Freddie's vocals are simple and relaxed on this song, but to the point, and beautiful as ever. Roger's soft drumming throughout it all keeps the tone soft from the start. John is sublime, but it is Brian's guitar solo that will really wrench your heart from its socket - the tone of sadness in that is even more apparent than the guitar solo in I'm Going Slightly Mad - and more poignant. In fact, it is Brian who punctuates the song; the sad guitar solo in the middle, and at the end, with the final chorus, the rays of light he sends over with it make you feel like a happy goodbye. This song has to be among the deepest ever written by anybody - it's beautiful, it's brilliant, this is Queen at their best. Rating: 10

Writer: Freddie Mercury

Another album track that would not have been out of place as a B-side, this song is about Freddie's favourite cat! After the depth of These Are The Days Of Our Lives, this song is in the right position for a bit of light-hearted fun. It has its moments, certainly, and can stick in your head purely for its wit. However, in the long run, it has little real impact, and is a bit silly. So it is with mixed opinions that I review this song. I can't claim to like it, but I can enjoy it.

Rating: 5

The Hitman
Writer: Brian May

Back to the heaviness here, and a very aggressive Brian rocker. The B-side to I'm Going Slightly Mad, the guitarwork is to die for on this one, and the entire instrumental part of the song is sublime. Another one to bang your heads to. However, I have a qualm with the vocals. I'm sure they could have thought of something better for Freddie to sing like this about than being a hired assassin, even if the theme is that he would kill for the love of whoever the song might be addressed to. So probably on a par with Delilah there - the words leave something to be desired, but good instrumentals. Well, maybe a little better than Delilah. As rockers go, it could have been worse, but it could easily have been better.

Rating: 6

Writer: Brian May

Not really a song, the B-side of Innuendo, given that the vocal part takes up about 40 seconds, so much as background music. Brian really is just giving his all here on the Red Special. Exactly what the point of the vocals are is unclear, but Freddie does them justice. This is really Brian's little baby. With a keyboard providing the backing, in a similar haunting style to All God's People, although more statically, Brian's guitar is basically the main voice in this one. It could easily have been an instrumental on his solo album, but it has the right atmosphere about it, an air of sadness and resignation at one's fate. It works on this album. I personally love it.

Rating: 8

The Show Must Go On
Writer: Brian May

If Innuendo was the only possible opener for this album, this song is the only possible finale - Bijou also being the perfect lead-in to it. Interestingly it is Brian and not Freddie who was responsible for it. With a harsh keyboard intro that you will remember forever, this song sets out to be brilliant from start to finish. Freddie's vocals are among the finest ever, and similar to those on Don't Try So Hard - first of all a soft (but forceful) delivery of the verses, then exploding into action with the chorus to such an extent that anyone who tries to imitate him will get left behind. The song is tinged with sadness, regret at mistakes made, but defiance - "I'll face it with a grin - I'm never giving in!" Freddie knew that he had to go out fighting. The question is, why was such an obviously brilliant song kept until the fourth single, by which time general interest in singles is always diminished? It suffers the same fate as Scandal and The Miracle on the last album because of this. If it had been the follow-up to Innuendo, it would have made the top ten effortlessly, in fact it would quite probably have followed it all the way to the top spot. In short, it is amazing.

Rating: 10

In General: Well, what an album! I haven't heard an album of this quality in a long time. Nine out of twelve songs on here get eight or more - and out of those, three get ten, and only one song gets less than five. The most notable feature about it is the personal element to it - the four members of the band drew upon what was going on around them for inspiration - mainly, of course, Freddie's impending demise. There is some element of this in the lyrics to most of the songs here. Only a few, like All God's People and The Hitman have no personal element at all. Also, the order of the songs is absolutely perfect here; every song fits perfectly into place. Out of the millions of possible orders for these twelve songs, I don't believe there is one that is better than the one here. I cannot say enough in praise of this album. It is Queen's finest by far, and one of the finest albums ever recorded.

The Best Song Musically: Well, for once, despite the absolutely flawless musicianship on every song, we have one standout in the form of Innuendo. Having said that, These Are The Days Of Our Lives has an absolutely amazing guitar solo, plus the continuity of the soft drumming throughout the song; The Show Must Go On has a very powerful keyboard riff, Ride The Wild Wing and Headlong will just blow you away . . . why don't I name the whole album for outstanding performances? Even though there's one that is a cut above the rest, trying to separate one song (or two or three) that stands out musically from the masses is impossible, they all do!

The Best Song Lyrically: Once again, we are treated to some amazing lyrics, but These Are The Days Of Our Lives wins the prize here, no contest. Actually, there's once again a hell of a lot of contest - Innuendo and The Show Must Go On for their sheer defiance, I Can't Live With You and Don't Try So Hard, I just can't separate one song, or two or three, from here.

The Best Song Vocally: Same comments as above - why not just name the whole album? All the vocals are brilliant, but the best vocal here bar none, is The Show Must Go On. Innuendo and These Are The Days Of Our Lives are also worthy of a mention, the former for its power, the latter for its depth and simplicity. Also worthy of a mention are Don't Try So Hard and Ride The Wild Wind, but is there really a poor performance?

The Best Song All-Round: It is impossible to pick one song from this album as the best - it has three of their absolute best songs ever! In fact, I am having a difficult time cutting it down beyond those three! These Are The Days Of Our Lives, The Show Must Go On, and Innuendo are all sheer classics, all in different ways. I really cannot cut the list down past three. All of them stand out in every category above . . . all I can say is, what an album!

The Worst Song: All God's People gets the lowest mark here, but that is a 4 - which is high for a low point, really saying more about the quality of the album than the lowness of the low point.

Average rating for the whole album: 8.2