Innuendo

I really want to break the back of this speed bump in my A-Z CD marathon so here’s the next ‘Q’:

I had pretty much lost interest in Queen by the time Innuendo was released. I bought us out of a sense of duty more than anything and remember being shocked and feeling angry when Freddie died nine months later. Now I just wish he had lasted in his crazy lifestyle longer and been around so that the ‘Queen’ of now couldn’t belittle his legacy – the musical, the guest vocalists and recently the use of Queen tracks on crappy adverts piss me off immensely. Innuendo was certainly a great way for Freddie to say goodbye but I have to admit I tend to I skip tracks 3-9 a lot.

I remember when the title track ‘Innuendo’ was released as a single and all the hoo-ha (probably created by marketing bods at their record label) about the hidden messages in the video. It went to number one in the UK so the marketing chaps did a good job I guess. It’s a very complex track and so very good to listen to. I understand that there’s some Led Zep references in there and I like the flamenco and harp laden interludes with the classic multi-layered vocals and then the rock-out bit where they drive the melody with swirling guitars back into the beat-laden main lyrics. It’s pretty awesome turned up to 11, but can’t really compare to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and also I dislike lyric about ‘false religion’ – much like in ‘One Vision’ there’s a sense that the band are intolerant non-Christians.

‘I’m Going Slightly Mad’ is perhaps my favourite track on the album. I like the story contained in the lyrics and also the potential innuendo contained therein – does he mean he is going mad or that he is dying of AIDS (‘I’m coming down with a fever’)? It has the campness of Noel Coward, is a psychedelic equivalent of a Dali painting and is great to sing along to.

‘Headlong’ and ‘I Can’t Live With You’ for me are piss poor album tracks that sound more like car advert jingles than songs. I get ‘Headlong’ mixed up with ‘Breakthru’ on the previous album and simply hate it. It’s no surprise to me to find that both these tracks were supposed to be tracks on a Brian May solo album. I really don’t rate May’s solo stuff and wouldn’t be surprised if that stupid song he did for a Ford advert was written around the same time.

‘Don’t Try So Hard’ is a little better than the previous two tracks and feels like something pre-The Works. There’s a little too much falsetto in it for me and it sounds a little like ‘musical theatre’ in places and a bit musically disjointed in places. There’s also a feeling of ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ in the guitar solo. It’s a good album track but I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it in isolation.

‘Ride The Wild Wind’ conjures thoughts of a similar Ultravox song called ‘Reap The Wild Wind’ which is by far superior to this track which seems to be stuck for lyrics. The Queen song is about driving in a fast car perhaps at night and it’s quite atmospheric in that respect but again isn’t something I’d really be that interested in listening to a lot. I could easily imagine Billy Idol singing this track.

‘All God’s People’ sounds like a Christmas song and harks back to the stuff on A Day At The Races and almost all the way back to their first album and of course Mercury’s ‘Barcelona’. It’s a really strange highly complex operatic mishmash with a bit of New Orleans piano in there and even a Beatle-ish lyric ‘then I went into a dream’.

I really don’t like ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ all that much as it is too sentimental and retrospective. It lacks the driving energy and ambition that characterise most of my favourite early Queen tracks. It actually depresses me to listen to it. When Freddie repeats the lyric “I still love you” at the end of the song it drives an icicle into my heart.

‘Delilah’ is just God-awful and I find it really self-indulgent of them to write a song about a pet cat.Doesn’t help that I’m not a cat person. I seem to recall that my sister rather likes this track.

‘The Hitman’ is a bit of a hidden gem for me. I am not at all familiar with the track having listened to this album far less than any other Queen albums. But it simply rocks – which is a rare thing for late-Queen – and there’s some real Guitar Hero work by Mr May. Also the repeating ‘baby, baby, baby’ is a very retro lyrical gimmick used on another old Queen track that escapes me.

‘Bijou’ has some beautiful prog-rock style guitar work instead of vocals which are very limited but well delivered by Freddie and means that the album really picks up towards the end imo.

For me Elton John’s live performance of ‘The Show Must Go On’ beats the original track in terms of power and glory but obviously part of that is that it was loaded with grief at Freddie’s untimely passing. I can’t listen to the track without getting a bit emotional about the lyrics and thinking about how gaunt and ill he looked in the videos for this album. It’s a very powerful song and a fitting end to the album.

Fave track =

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