20 July 2013

Queen & Paul Rodgers - The Cosmos Rocks

An avid speed metal fan once told me that I should listen to this album. It's a great record, in his own words. For me, I do have my apprehensions given that Mr. Freddie Mercury's passed away, way back in November 1991 and within 5 years all of his subsequent reworked and unreleased material had been launched. The posthumously released Made In Heaven wasn't a bad album in the slightest with one or two tracks I enjoyed, but bearing in mind his deteriorating health Queen were always going to struggle with some musical shortfalls.

One big hole opened up as most people would view it. As I recall, one journalist frankly quoted, "Without Freddie Mercury, there is no Queen", so would it be wise to continue the band under the same moniker? Brian May and Roger Taylor certainly thought so, teaming up with already accomplished showman Paul Rodgers (of Free and Bad Company fame) and piling the cream of each others' talents into a world tour together in 2005. I did have the privilege of seeing them at the Newcastle Arena and I enjoyed it very much especially May breaking a string on his Red Special! But try to imagine recapturing the spirit of The Magic Tour 1986, and it's a slight struggle, so expect a little hint of raised eyebrows from me when it was announced that an album was forthcoming and soon launched onto us.

As a Queen fan of many moons ago and with more than a keen eye on Bad Company (they still regularly do the rounds), what will The Cosmos Rocks be like? The opening track Cosmos Rockin' is a simple three-chord rock n' roll song which sounds like a old school who's who. Time To Shine follows in a gospel theme with some stripped down guitaring notes that doesn't do anything for me. However, Still Burnin' shows promise but they could really do without the We Will Rock You-esque hand clapping. Warboys is a hard political theme before the tone mellows with We Believe and a return to the Soul/Gospel characteristics.

I do enjoy listening to the quirky acoustic Call Me, it has a passing resemblance to My Brother Jake and tones that remind me of A Night At The Opera. We find ourselves on familiar hard rock ground to the foray with C-lebrity  and a guest vocal appearance from Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins. Mind you, to me it feels a tad cheesy before the May led ballad Through The Night shows some rare poignancy and Say It's Not True follows suit. A rare Paul Rodgers' harmonica makes its brief appearance in Surf's Up...School's Out.

The major shortfalls here are the lyrics in general as they're a bit flat and somewhat confined in the Seventies. I do applaud these two great acts for the attempt they've made in pulling their resources together. But it doesn't really float my boat and ideally more time to pull in a few more imaginative strands would've been welcome. A brave attempt then, but apart from A Night At The Opera and Sheer Heart Attack Queen have never really been an albums band. This won't matter if you're a die-hard fan as it's still a listenable rock a la carte and this is will never be their worst offering.

6 out of ten. Now I see where you were going, but not quite there.

This album is available on Amazon

You can listen to The Cosmos Rocks here on Spotify

You can follow all of Queen's activities on their official website here

Paul Rodgers' activities can be followed here on his official website

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