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Queen

News of the World (vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

I've mentioned it in previous reviews, Queen is an unusual band in that their sound was all over the place. Largely, I land them under progressive rock because their first few albums definitely fit there. Even then, though, they had all kinds of things on them. This 1977 release features the well-known hits "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions." Beyond those we get quite a hodge-podge of styles, but everything here is strong in its own way.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Side One
                 
We Will Rock You

It's a safe bet everyone reading this has heard this anthemic, literal stomper. It was meant to get arenas rocking and it did the job. This percussion and vocal workout still stands tall today. It does get some rocking guitar soloing nearing the end.

We Are the Champions
With no break between the two songs, this and the opener seem to play almost as one song. This comes in on piano and builds out into a trademark Queen tune. It feels like it would have fit on just about any of their earlier discs. It's also a song that pretty much everyone reading this has probably heard.
Sheer Heart Attack
One would expect this song to be on "Sheer Heart Attack," but it wasn't completed by then. Apparently it was only about halfway done at that point. This has a real punky energy and feels a bit like Sweet. It is a hard rocker that's so cool. This gets pretty noisy at times.
All Dead, All Dead
Written and sung by Brian May, it's said to have been inspired by the death of the cat he had as a kid. Piano brings the track in, and the vocals come in over the top of that. This is bouncy and playful in some ways. The sea of voices on the chorus works well, and the number turns a little more rocking after the first verse. I love the dramatic guitar that rises up later for an instrumental break. It's artsy and so potent. It's also trademark May.
Spread Your Wings
John Deacon wrote this number. I really like this one a lot. It starts with just piano and vocals. The rest of the band join after a few lines of vocals. This has a bit of a Beatles-vibe in some ways, but it's also unmistakably Queen. This a bit of a rarity in the Queen catalog because it's one of only a few of their songs that features a chorus without backing vocals. 
Fight from the Inside
This number is almost a one-man show by Roger Taylor. He plays the rhythm guitar, bass and drums in addition to handling the vocals. This is a hard rocking tune with a real rubbery bass sound to it. It's one of the fiercer, and almost metallic, Queen rockers.
Side Two
                           
Get Down, Make Love

Bass begins this. Other instruments are sporadically heard as this gets underway. It has a sultry, funky sort of groove to it with a hard-edged rock angle over the top. It shifts to sort of a more traditional Queen sound as the arrangement fills out, but the sparser elements return at points, too. There is a total psychedelic freak-out later in the piece.

Sleeping on the Sidewalk

May provides lead vocals on this blues rocking number. It's not proggy and not decidedly Queen-like, but it is fun.

Who Needs You
This has an Island sort of groove as it gets underway. It gets some more traditional Queen treatments after a time, but the same sort of rhythmic jam remains.
It's Late
Another May composition, this comes in with a mellower sort of guitar arrangement, feeling very much like an old-school blues rocker. Mercury's vocals come in over the top of just that guitar. A bombastic rocking arrangement takes over on the chorus. When it comes back to the verse section the guitar is joined by the rest of the instruments. The cut continues to evolve by adding more rocking elements to the piece, and May gets a smoking hot guitar solo.
My Melancholy Blues
Piano with Mercury's vocals is the opening concept here. This has a real old-school jazz groove as it continues. The bass and drums come into the mix as part of a jazz trio sound with that in mind. This never elevates beyond that concept, but it does get pretty rocking within that format.

 

 
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