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Reviews > Queen Music Reviews > 07-02-1989 - The Miracle - The Dallas Morning News

Queen shows its versatility

Even though Queen often seems hopelessly over the top -- trapped between rock and an opera -- the band has thrived for 18 years, most of them in the upper reaches of popular music.

Songs as diverse as Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Another One Bites the Dust showed that the four members of this British act had talent and savvy enough to thrive in a rapidly changing market.

While lead singer Freddie Mercury's flamboyant flourishes and operatic pretensions (he actually recorded with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe) have brought the band some deserved derision, Queen has been a pretty consistent rock attraction, particularly live. Over the last three years, solo projects have pushed the band's career to the back burner, but Queen returns with a new Capitol record, The Miracle, that shows the quartet reinvigorated and confident.

Queen's musicianship often has taken a back seat to Mr. Mercury's strutting histrionics. But Roger Taylor is one of rock's fastest and most accurate drummers, and guitarist Brian May is a major talent. These two move toward center stage this time, as Queen muscles through a songlist that's remarkably varied for one album. Significantly, the music is all credited to the band as a whole, rather than to individuals members -- with Mr. Mercury usually getting the lion's share of the credits. The payoff is a record that rocks you, with a few twists.

The album begins with Party, which sounds like familiar, Queenly dime-store operetta. But without so much as a pause, the song segues smoothly into the stadium rock of Khashoggi's Ship, with Mr. Mercury unleashing a snarling vocal in front of Mr. May's spiraling feeds. That kind of toughness pops up in a number of songs. Scandal is muscular rock with a hook. The first single, I Want It All, starts off with a Bowiesque guitar part, picks up a heavy cargo of steel, quickly lays down the hard line implied by the title, then takes flight along Mr. May's greased fretboard.

Then there are the twists: The Invisible Man is a playful exercise in rock disco. Rain Must Fall is a light, bouncy and danceable tune with a Latin feel that could be programmed right between Sing Out Sister and Howard Jones. Breakthru is an upbeat song with a jittery, chugging synthesizer line. My Baby Does Me is a calm and collected power ballad with ethereal guitar fills and the attitude -- though not the sound -- of Paul McCartney's hit ballad, My Love.

Mr. Mercury, of course, does get to indulge his classical bent. The title song, a simple (perhaps simple-minded) celebration of life's little triumphs, is not quite operatic, but it does offer lush orchestrations and celestial harmonies that duel intriguingly with Mr. Taylor's rapid time-keeping. And with Was It All Worth It, Mr. Mercury takes a lofty look at the band's lengthy career, "Living breathing rock n' roll.' The conclusion? Yes, it was worth it. But given the singer's rather fiendish chortle at the end, you're not sure if he means it.