Here's my "accidental" review of The Cosmos Rocks.
Cosmos Rockin': a great rock tune. When I first heard the 3-second snippet, and then read the lyrics, I was about ready to write-off this album as lame, but I'm glad I didn't. Really sets the mood for the entire album, and reminds me of 'Let Me Entertain You'. Like Pieter, I would be very surprised if this wasn't the first song of the tour. (Hypothetical writer: Roger, though he has confirmed it was his.)
Time To Shine: I really like this song, even though the guitar work reminds me a little bit of The Edge. Paul really shines (!) on this track, and his voice has never sounded stronger. This was the song that got me excited about the album, and it's still an absolute highlight for me. (Hypothetical writer: probably a collaboration between Brian and Paul.)
Still Burnin': reminds me a lot of Led Zeppelin (or maybe Free!). Nice bluesy rock song, with some loud drums and screaming guitar. Yeah, the 'We Will Rock You' sample is a little forced, but it hardly detracts. (Hypothetical writer: probably a collaboration between Brian and Paul.)
Small: lovely ballad. Nice harmonies and some beautiful guitar work. (Hypothetical writer: Brian.)
Warboys: I liked the acoustic performance Paul played on US radio a few months ago, so I was looking forward to this song, and it doesn't disappoint. I love the drums and guitar work, though the sound effects are a little overbearing. I like the backing vocals from Roger and Brian here. (Hypothetical writer: well, we know this is Paul's.)
We Believe: a bit of a hamfisted attempt at sociopolitical preaching. Lengthy ballad, and I can see this being a centerpoint of the live show, but it's not one of my favorites. (Hypothetical writer: confirmed to be Paul's.)
Call Me: I was surprised to see that people didn't like this one, because I think it's a nice, lighthearted bit of relief after the weighty 'Warboys' and 'We Believe'. I can assure you that it's NOT country, but acoustic rock played jauntily, which is hardly a bad thing. Definitely reminds me of 'Let Your Heart Rule Your Head'. The harmonies are sublime. Favorite line: "I'm gonna settle down / Find myself a wife or two". (Hypothetical writer: confirmed to be Paul's, though I wouldn't be surprised if Brian had a say in the arrangement.)
Voodoo: a nice, swampy blues song. Sounds like something that came from the crossroads. Nice to hear Brian playing some tasty blues licks after all these years. (Hypothetical writer: probably a collaboration between Brian and Paul.)
Some Things That Glitter: mid-tempo piano-based ballad that I quite like. I could even see this being the next single from the album. The harmonies are lovely here, and while Paul's voice really suits the song, I would have liked to hear Brian sing this one. (Hypothetical writer: Brian. It has his fingerprints all over it.)
C-lebrity: I always liked this riff, but the lyrics made me cringe. They still do a bit, but I've warmed to them a little more. I've gotten the chorus stuck in my head many times, which makes it a perfect candidate for a single. Shame no one's doing anything about it, though... Good to hear the band rockin' out after all these years. (Hypothetical writer: confirmed to be Roger's.)
Through The Night: another nice ballad, though probably the least memorable song on the album for me. Not that it's bad, but I just can't remember anything about it. (Hypothetical writer: Brian.)
Say It's Not True: I still prefer the stripped-back acoustic version from the 46664 show in 2003, but this bombastic re-recording is nice, too. The only lead vocals that Roger and Brian get on the album, and I'm okay with that. (Hypothetical writer: confirmed to be Roger's, but we knew that anyway.)
Surf's Up . . . School's Out !: this title scared me, to be honest. I was expecting a really cheesy amalgam of the Beach Boys and Alice Cooper, but I'm surprised to say that this is my favorite song of the album. Nice riff, and the song really rocks out. I like hearing Roger's voice on the choruses. The occasional timpani blasts are great, as are Roger's cries of "YEAHHHHH!!!!!", and I'm not sure what the instrument at 1:06 is, if it's a harmonica or a distorted guitar. I can see this being a staple of the live show, especially toward the end of the show, toward the encores. I love the line about a "criminal urge to twist and shout" – so Roger! (Hypothetical writer: Roger, through and through.)
small reprise: gorgeous guitar outro with some ethereal, swirling vocals. Sounds like a mash-up of 'Last Horizon' and 'Bijou'. I could see this being part of Brian's nightly solo. (Hypothetical writer: Brian.)
Final thoughts: well, they did it. I had set my expectations pretty low for this a few months ago, but as soon as I started to hear snippets over the past few weeks, I raised the bar a lot, and they didn't disappoint. I'm happy that it's just the three of them playing the instruments, instead of a load of backing musicians; it definitely feels more intimate and rough around the edges. Paul proves that he's still an amazing vocalist, and I'm glad they gave him the lead on all the songs, as opposed to switching between the three of them.
I would have liked to have known who played what on the album, but part of the fun is to guess who plays what. I think Brian plays a lot of the bass, which is surprising, because he rarely played bass in Queen. I'm sure having John on bass would have made the lines more fluid, but the chunky distorted sound works well for these songs. I'm also happy that keyboards (and synths) are kept to a minimum throughout, and that the harmony vocals are still there in full force.
Overall, this is a great album, and definitely worth the wait. It doesn't feel overlong, like many albums from the 1990s did, where they tried to adapt to the formula of CDs and cram as much music on as they could. The album is nicely paced, and the sound is tremendous; everything sounds authentic and real.
Great job, Q+PR! Now, your job is to promote the hell out of this album, and play as many tracks from it live. Guaranteed performances are 'Cosmos Rockin'', 'Warboys', 'We Believe', 'Some Things That Glitter', 'C-lebrity', 'Say It's Not True', and 'Surf's Up'. I'd love to hear 'Still Burnin'', 'Time To Shine', and 'Call Me', the latter of which I could see being a nice singalong for the audience.