Hey all, this is a review of The Cosmos Rocks from an Australian 'site
[/url] I fink it's a pretty fair response to the album in most parts (although it does tend to focus on comparing the original line-up with the plus Paul Rodgers" of today), howbout youse?
Queen without Freddie Mercury was always an at best sketchy proposition. In fact, the band, full of fear at the mere thought of this possibility, decided that they would rush record a bunch of vocals by Freddie while he was all but on his death bed. Unfortunately, the recorded vocals of a man then passed contributed to a touching ‘concept’ album, but certainly in no way did it lead to an album worthy of the great man in quality terms.
So 10 years later, with the departure of John Deacon for pastures of a different hue, Brian May and Roger Taylor drafted Paul Rodgers into the fold, a man whose musical resume reads somewhat like a career-orientated professional rock god. So the public was left in a position in which they probably thought a new Queen record was a ridiculous idea, but may have slightly altered their level of enthusiasm based on the knowledge that the vocal abilities and songwriting chops of Rodgers were made available.
Disappointingly, it seems that the choice of Paul Rodgers may have been a decision not made in the best interests of ‘the Queen recreation’. With a title like The Cosmos Rocks, there must have been already significant lines of worry creeping onto the foreheads of many a Queen fan. Queen were always lovers of ridiculous melodrama, cliché and even touches of the mainstream avant-garde, but never did they adopt a straight-out pun as the title of a record.
Musically and lyrically, the album more than reflects this change. Gone is the effectiveness once carried through their over-the-top production and overly humungous lyrical themes soaked in ridiculousness. Instead May’s guitar floats throughout the background of the record consistently, threatening to burst out of your stereo, but never actually making the more than necessary leap into your living room. Combine this with the most straight ahead, bordering on banal ‘save the world, let’s all love each other’ lyrics you can imagine, and your mind starts to vaguely wander.
There are some strange decisions apparent on the album too. A song like We Believe takes the crescendo addiction of Brain May and places it somewhere that would have been better inhabited by, perhaps Foreigner in the early ‘80s (and that’s not a compliment). The call to arms of Time to Shine (which is pure 80’s Bad Company ) sounds good for a while, until Rodgers starts to talk about ‘dragons’ and the song begins to sound more like an unused theme tune to the 1994 World Cup. Having said this, there is something special about Small. The lyrics passionately wish for the best for everyone, awash amongst walls of choir-chanted vocals. But it is only a small respite from the generic nature of much of the album’s written content.
One admires the heart invested in these songs. The intention is beautiful. However, Queen start to try things they simply shouldn’t – like the New Orleans shuffle of Voodoo or the Bon Jovi overtones of We Believe. The album isn’t without a touch of rock ‘n’ roll. They may be sickeningly stuck in the ‘80s and a little soulless, but C-Lebrity and Surf’s Up… School’s Out still allow for some patented Queen rock out – but that is both songs’ most endearing characteristic.
Without the overly sappy ballads and by-the-numbers attitude to rock ‘n’ roll, the new Queen + Paul Rodgers may have something to offer. The positivity towards life and the non-preachy attitude espoused about saving the world is endearing enough. Naggingly though, one is left wondering why this record was made, and is then duly reminded that, well… it’s better to have some Queen than no Queen.