From Queen Archives
Reviews > Queen Music Reviews > 02-25-1984 - The Works - Sounds
by Sandy Robertson
The nicest thing I can say about Queen is that they always seem to have a few surprises down their trousers, knoworrimean?
Although one of them admitted to Sounds last week that they pretty much blatantly try to give Queen fans what they want (a point in the band's favour - lots of groups do the same while persistently denying it), it was heartening to find that he neither knew nor cared what a Queen punter looked like, being more concerned with trying to experiment within the space available in a recognisable Queen LP.
Unstandardised, I calls it!
But like I said, Queen are oddly surprising at times: Freddie talking about the contrast between his macho image and the gay life to The Sun, the dire funk attempts of 'The game', the ditching of the old HM image for twitchy operetta-styles; tunes dribbling with crass 50's rock 'n' roll inflections; the dazzlingly apt (sez I) soundtrack for Flash Gordon...Which brings us to 'The Works'.
Or doesn't, which is the problem.
This time around, Queen have played it safe(r).
Pausing after the (relative) flop of 'The Game', the plan is a deft amalgam of the best-selling Queen moves backed by national press drool and a clever 45: 'Radio Ga Ga' is about the radio (airplay assured), critical of radio pap (controversy assured) and is a prime-slime example of the humming, annoyingly likeable baby-food pop music that the song itself is slating (more airplay and more controversy guaranteed).
Safety with a catch, ya see! Sly dogs...
The remainder of the album attempts nothing so bright, being little more than a reworked pile of cuttings from Queen's greatest tricks. Wasn't that a bit copped from the football-chant of 'We Will Rock You' zooming by? And doesn't 'Man On The Prowl' have the rockabilly echo quiven of 'Funny Lttle Thing Called Love' glued to its bum? 'The Works' has the works: everything is kitsch an' it stinks!
And that's how you make a hit album if you're wary of pushing your luck too far. the bank balance might not need a smash but the ego probably demands it.
It's all there, I assure you: spurious social comment in 'Machines(or Back To Humans)', slight Fred ballad via 'Is This The World We Created...?' and even a nip of the old Brian May metal with the (excellent actually) 'Hammer to Fall'.
Awful, mainly. So from the average Queen fan's point of viewpoint, awfully good! Another one bites the dust, suckers.