Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Cosmos Rocks [review]

I bought the new Queen album the other day and as promised, here are my thoughts on it.
Like I mentioned the other day, the reviews were mixed. To be honest, they are mostly bad. But as a die hard fan, I was always going to buy it, so I didn't worry too much about that. Mind you, today's review by Iain Shedden in the Weekend Oz was (to put it mildly) scathing.
The album is, simply put, unispired. Not bad, just not much of anything. I've only had a few listen throughs, but nothing really strikes me as special. I've bought every Queen album as it was released since "The Miracle" and while some have taken longer to grow on me than others, they have usually at least sounded more impressive right from the start.
Let's get a couple of things out of the way. First is the complaint that this "just isn't Queen". Come on, that is a no brainer. Check out the credits: "Queen & Paul Rogers". No one has said that Paul Rogers is replacing Freddie. No one could and they are not pretending that he has. You can feel the absence of Freddie in this work, but I thought that about "Made In Heaven" too. Both albums sounded more like a Brian May solo album.
Now that isn't a bad thing. I really liked "Back to the Light" (even though it wasn't Queen). And you can really hear Roger Taylor's influence on this album as well as Brian's. I think that is important. Queen would not have been the same without the distinct musical influence those two put in ("'39" and "I'm In Love With My Car" are two of my favourite tracks).
So to credit the album to "Queen & Paul Rogers" is fair. It is not Queen, it is not Free, but a reasonable mix of some of the elements of both.
But back to what I think... I love Brian's guitar work (especially in "Call Me"), I love Paul's voice and they work really well together. But the songs are just background noise. I haven't concentrated on the lyrics too much, but there really doesn't seem to be anything special there.
One exception to the rule is "Say It's Not True". I bought this as a single previously (though I missed getting it for free off their web site when it was available) and it has already grown on me. I love the mixture of vocals in this and it was a really good start to their new collaboration. I just wish they could have followed it up with more of the same.
The iTunes bonus track "Runaway" is another great rendition (a cover of the Del Shannon song), but I don't think it counts (firstly for not being part of the released album and secondly for being a cover). This will get high rotation in my playlists.
I'm going to like this album. I will listen to it a lot, and the songs will get stuck in my head and become part of the whole Queen experience for me. But not the best part. I give it 3 stars, but only for nostalgia's sake. Any other band would have got 2 (but if I'd read the reviews I wouldn't have even bought it in the first place).