Added on 28-Oct-2008
Hoping to keep the crown
Queen+Paul Rodgers: The Cosmos Rocks
*** out of *****
Queen has finally nudged its way back into the limelight with its 16th studio album, The Cosmos Rocks, after more than 13 years of fans wondering what the arena-rock legends would do next. It is evident that Queen is trying to keep that classic persona alive with this new album, but it is hard to say if the group is successful at actually pulling it off.
Initially, the group was unsure if it could even move on to new career ventures, especially following the tragic death of original frontman Freddie Mercury, who died following complications from HIV in 1991. Guitarist Brian May was particularly reluctant to continue with the band without Mercury. In 2004, current lead singer Paul Rodgers was invited to join the lineup. May, Rodgers, and drummer Roger Taylor complete what is now called Queen + Paul Rodgers, so as not to "replace" the memory of the late Mercury.
The album opens with "Cosmos Rockin," a true Queen track in its energy, featuring the tight vocal harmonies that the band has become known for through the years. This track, along with several others, are reminiscent of the classic Queen sound. "Cosmos Rockin'" and "Still Burnin," for instance, present a stomp/clap type of percussion, in addition to the drums, that are immediately recognizable and attributable to Queen.
There is a great sense of variety throughout this album. While there are more slow songs than anticipated, there are more than enough arena-ready ballads and rockers, such as "We Believe" and "C-Lebrity," to balance out the more mellow moments, highlighted by more acoustic-based tracks like "Small."
Queen is known as a glam-rock band with a harder edge, and this aspect of its musicianship is brought to life in "Time to Shine." The song is appropriately titled, and the sounds produced by Brian May's guitar playing seem to almost glimmer on top of this triumphant, uplifting track. The journey closes with the song "Surf's Up … School's Out!" Sure, the title may seem strange for a group with members well into their 50s, yet the substance is everything you'd expect from the band - there is even a riff present throughout the song that is almost a carbon copy of that featured in 1975's "Now I'm Here."
The Cosmos Rocks marks Rodgers' first official album with Queen, and with that will surely come a bit of hesitation from Queen fans so used to the iconic voice and stage craft of Mercury. Just the same, people first familiarizing themselves with Queen must look at both "versions" of the group openly, because there are sure to be great differences. While not what many are used to, Rodgers has a great track record in classic rock with groups such as Free and Bad Company, so don't dismiss him just yet. Queen has put forth a great effort to push itself into a new era, a trial period that will ultimately prove if it has made the right decision.
Rebecca's Picks: "Still Burnin'," "C-Lebrity," "Surf's Up … School's Out!"
- by Rebecca Koons