ALBUM TITLE: The Works ARTIST: Queen VINYL STATUS: Second-Hand It is by genuine coincidence that this is the vinyl I'm reviewing this week...I bought it a while back but have only just taken it out for a proper spin today - and by pure chance, tonight also marks the 39th annual Sydney Mardi Gras. Whether you're braving the rain or celebrating from afar, let me briefly take you back to 1984 and a little album called 'The Works'.
If anyone ever speaks to me about giving someone "the works", I generally assume it to be referring to the dine-in Pizza Hut restaurants allegedly making a comeback. However, for Queen drummer Roger Taylor, when HE says that it results in the title of an eleventh studio album for one of the most iconic bands in music history.
Appearing two years after the dance-heavy 1982 album 'Hot Space', 'The Works' dropped in early 1984 - and from the get-go there's a noticeable compromise between the evolving synthy, electronic whims of Freddie Mercury and the straight up rock stylings of guitarist Brian May.
The album opens with the heavyweight single 'Radio Gaga', taking aim at the growing battle brewing in the post-MTV music industry, before shifting gears to serve up some old-school Queen stomp (the Brian May-penned 'Tear It Up' and 'Hammer to Fall'), a tasty rockabilly romp ('Man on the Prowl') and an acoustic ode to poverty ('Is This The World We Created...?').
But perhaps the most memorable moment for this album is the gratuitously 80s-hued track 'I Want to Break Free'; penned by bassist Roger Deacon, the song is dripping in synths and a beat so chipper it might break a tooth. But it's a great example of the sheer versatility of Mercury and Co, as is the accompanying music video:
The sight of Mercury in a leather miniskirt and moustache was all too much for the USA back in the day, with public outcry and an official banning from MTV - but in true Queen form, they unwittingly paved the way for anti-oppression movements, and gave the world a bit of a giggle in a time of uncertainty.
While perhaps not their strongest offering, 'The Works' is a great snapshot of a band willing to be different, and has just enough fire and soul to make a lasting impression.
LABEL: EMI Records GENRE(S): Rock/Pop Rock RELEASE DATE: February, 1984
BY TIANA SPETER