1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 297

The Works, by Queen
Suggested by Bryan Connolly

In Good Omens, the comic novel of Heaven and hell by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the idea is posited that any tapes left in a car for more than fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums. If I’m honest, the past few days has led me to think the same is likely true with the Randomiser.

The Works will be my third Queen album to date, following Album 22’s Sheer Heart Attack and the more recent Album 292’s A Day at the Races. Admittedly, none of these are actual Greatest Hits albums, although with a title like The Works you’d expect a Greatest hits album. That, or cut-price books, craft supplies and stationery. Still on the Masterlist to come, we have an actual Greatest Hits album, and it’ll be interesting to see if, by the time it’s Randomised, I’ll have reviewed all of its contents on individual albums elsewhere.

When reviewing, it’s hard to come up with new material on well-worn and time-honoured acts, but thankfully Queen, with their storied career, make it somewhat easier than most. The two albums thus far have showcased the bands Seventies sounds, both early and late, while The Works is one hundred percent pure Eighties cheese, with all the good and ill such a statement can muster.

As is usual with Queen albums, we get a handful of stone-cold bangers and a hatful of competent but ultimately lesser tracks. Today’s bangers number two, maybe three, with the first being the clappable, chantable Radio Ga Ga. I’d suggest that everyone has, at some point in their lives, raised their arms and clapped along to the chorus of this beauty. All together now…

All we hear is (clap-clap)
Radio Ga Ga (clap-clap)
Radio Goo Goo (clap-clap)
Radio Ga Ga (clap-clap)

The next Song of Legend is the magnificent I Want to Break Free. While it’s a fantastic track in its own right, the accompanying video has eclipsed the actual song by a factor of ten. Playfully lampooning kitchen sink dramas with swapped gender roles, it’s heralded as one of the greatest music videos of all time. But, of course, you know this. And naturally, this is my standout song.

After these two, things get a little thinner, but there’s still gold to be had. I personally enjoy Hammer to Fall a great deal, with its tumbling vocal in the chorus, but it’s likely that It’s a Hard Life is better remembered. Then we get to the album tracks proper, such as Man on the Prowl and Keep Passing the Open Windows, which are fine, probably even good, but are largely tile spacers in the Queen mosaic, or simple breadsticks while you wait for the more sumptuous singles course.

Although the purists might stone me for witchcraft, I personally love the Eighties Queen, full of pomp and polish and pop precision. It’s tightly controlled, sure, but the pitch perfect production showcases Freddie’s talents to a tee, creating wonderful pop moments that linger large and loud in the collective musical memory. The Works has been my favourite Queen album yet, scoring a royal 8/10.

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