1. One Vision
2. A Kind of Magic
3. One Year of Love
4. Pain is so close to Pleasure
5. Friends Will Be Friends
6. Who Wants to Live Forever
7. Gimme the Prize
8. Don't Lose Your Head
9. Princes of the Universe
Hahaha, it’s Magic! – 8/10
The 80s period was a time of synthesizers, but when those become boring and old again bands like Queen returned to the good old rock ‘n roll, with the occasional synth still popping up, but in a mature way. A Kind of Magic is in a way more of the synth-oriented pop-rock that featured on The Works, but is executed in a much more bearable way, including one of Queen’s greatest front covers. Lots of hits shot this album to the top position in the charts; at least in the UK. These hits are considerably less cheap and simplistic, leaving quality within the album like we were used to. The sudden recover from synth-addiction, it seems to be some kind of magic...
Some people like to talk of A Kind of Magic as an album that expands the direction of The Works. However, with synths being used much more appropriately and with songwriting being a lot more innovative, I think there is a slight, if not a huge difference. Gone are the synthesizer themes and beats, back are the rock riffs. However, keep in mind that this is 1986 and Queen is not playing material of the likes of Queen II or A Day at the Races anymore. What they now do is still a commercial extract of 80s rock ‘n roll. The album has its fair share of hits, including “One Vision”, the title track, “Friends Will Be Friends”, “Who Wants to Live Forever” and “Princes of the Universe”. “One Vision” is a down-to-the-bone rock track and for the first time since A Day at the Races we get an album opened by sheer rock. “A Kind of Magic” seems based on a looping bass line and a mysterious atmosphere, and additionally a great guitar solo by our dearest Brian May. “Friends Will Be Friends” is a cooperation between Deacon and Mercury. It’s a very hopeful track with a light catchy riff and extremely attractive melodies. No wonder that became a hit. May writes a hit with “Who Wants to Live Forever”; a very gentle track with orchestra. Though some say it’s Queen’s most overrated song, I think it just depends on how much you’ve heard it. Too many listens turn every song into an overrated piece of fruitcake. “Princes of the Universe” is the only composition on this record written solely by Mercury and features a damn good rocker which also became a bit of a soundtrack for the movie Highlander.
Apart from the hits, we’ve got some pretty enjoyable album tracks as well, though some of these tend to be a tiny bit dull at times. Myself I’m pretty fond of Deacon’s “One Year of Love”, which is a very soft ballad with very touching vocals by the late Mercury. It makes good background music as well. There’s of course hard rock track “Gimme the Prize”, with lyrics again forwarding to the movie Highlander. This track pretty much is the heaviest track Queen recorded since Jazz’s “More of That Jazz”. There are two synth-dominated tracks in the shapes of “Pain Is So Close to Pleasure” and “Don’t Lose Your Head”. The former features Hot Spacey arrangements with Mercury’s falsetto voice, but then disguised as a Magic-track, and the latter is just a pop song with no hints of Hot Space or The Works, but just happens to feature quite a lot of synths. The song fits the album well and its bombastic drums quite impress the listener as the title once more refers to the movie whose soundtrack this is.
Funny enough, this album sounds much better to me than the two previous records, even though there might be resemblances between them. The return of real rock to Queen is a real relief though, and I’m glad they from now on stuck to rock again. Of course, they were already showing us they could still rock with “Hammer to Fall”, but with A Kind of Magic they proved to have some magic left within them, which is enough to fill some more albums. If you like commercial Queen, then I would recommend this album to you. If not, you’d better take a listen at the early albums.
Strongest tracks: “One Year of Love”, “Who Wants to Live Forever”, “Gimme the Prize” and “Princes of the Universe”.
2 weeks ago