I remember thinking that The Miracle was a disappointing album when I first heard it and that opinion hasn’t changed much over all the intervening years.
The vocals on ‘Party’ are generally irritating and the lyrics are quite vacuous. There’s some nice guitar work from May among the repetitive lyrics and to me it just serves as a drawn out intro into ‘Khashoggi’s Ship’ which begins seamlessly and continues the vacuity – basically a song about farting around on a billionaire’s ship. It’s not something that I really want to listen to a song about.
Queen then do an about-face and try and do something with a clear positive message. Dripping with saccharine, ‘The Miracle’ is like Alanis Morissette’s ‘Ironic’ in that it redefines what a word means. Most of the things mentioned in Morissette’s song are not ironic and most of the things mentioned in ‘The Miracle’ are not miracles. I can’t fault the sentiment of the song but it comes across as naïve and almost pointless. It’s much like the Beatles song ‘All You Need Is Love’ or a child’s nursery rhyme but the lyrics mix up a desire for a miracle with ‘having a miracle on Earth’ and as a result it’s a bit plop. The long drawn out ending also seems unnecessary – all very self-indulgent.
‘I Want It All’ is by a mile my favourite track on the album because it properly rocks, Mercury doesn’t dick around with his vocals and May gets to play some good guitar stuff. The combination of May and Mercury on the quieter vocals and the almost Iron Maiden riff around three minutes in and then the building section to the blatant hand clapping ‘come on everybody’ anthemic ending with twiddly guitar stuff is great. the remix for the single is also really rather special.
I bought the very funky percussion and bass driven ‘The Invisible Man’ on ‘invisible’ (transparent) 12 and 7 inch formats. I guess the lyric is just a reference to the old science fiction book and although I liked the roll call of the band members I find the track repetitive along with the next track – the frankly tedious ‘Breakthru’. It starts really interestingly with a choral arrangement and then falls on its arse as a kind of chugging journey of blandness.
But then it gets worse with three woeful tracks ‘Rain Must Fall’, which musically sounds like an early Latin American pop style Madonna track (I imagine Freddie wearing a bowl of fruit on his head), ‘Scandal’ which sounds like an early Bon Jovi track in places and indirectly slags off journalism, and the funky ‘My Baby Does Me’ which sounds all Freddie and no Queen.
‘Was It All Worth It’ is a good closing track with more of a classic Queen sound, but falls foul of being too whiny and retrospective – almost as if the band were going to throw the towel in at that point and after listening to the album some fans might have suggested they do just that. Referring to their career as a ‘god forsaken life’ seems pretty bloody negative given that at the start of the album they were singing about having bloody great parties all the time. Make your minds up guys! Also I can’t help but notice the similarities between some of the instrumentation in this track and the theme for Battlestar Galactica – maybe they are both based on a piece of classical music but for me I can’t stop thinking about the science fiction show when I hear this track. There’s a bit of ‘Death on Two Legs’ thrown in their too which I like.
There’s nothing particularly original about the album and it left me thinking they’d run out of ideas. Apart from perhaps ‘The Invisible Man’ which seemed like something of a departure but doesn’t stand up to repeat listening.
Fave track = ‘I Want It All’: