13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Romanticism for the `80s
, July 12, 2006
This review is from: The Game (+ Bonus Track) (Audio CD)
In my youth, I had a longing desire to own "The Game", but when I was nine, Queen's adult-themed subtext was not deemed appropriate by my vigilant parents. I was exposed to "The Game" by way of my friends, but did not personally own it. As an elementary school student in the late `70s, Queen's image and lyric content were not deemed proper by the "powers that were." As a result, I have kept Queen's most critically acclaimed albums from the '70's on the back burner, knowing that I would return to them when the time was right.
Of course, as with any band worth their salt, Queen kept coming up. In the short term, when I started driving my own car, I bought "Queen's Greatest Hits" in the mid-80's. Even later, as a curiosity, I picked up "Innuendo" before Freddie's death in the in the`90s, but up to a certain point gauging their career by a "Queen's Greatest Hits" album is doing the both the band and listener a disservice. Arguably, one could say that "The Game" is this point. While a Greatest Hits compilation may give you "Another One Bites the Dust", you will also be missing out on great tunes like "Dragon Attack.", "Coming Soon", "Sail Away, Sweet Sister", and "Need Your Loving Tonight".
"The Game" represents a division in Queen's sound, the radio-friendly flipside to the "Flash Gordon" soundtrack. These two sides of Queen's personality diverged in the early 80's, and eventually met again on "Who Wants To Live Forever" and a significant part of "Innuendo". This streamlining is most likely a direct reaction to the punk movement, which discouraged prog-rock. This was streamlined into a radio-friendly, song-based album while "Flash Gordon" was instrumental and melodramatically theatrical.
Like Genesis' "And Then There Were Three", many critics malign this album as the cryptic "beginning of the end" for Queen in the mid to late `80s (although the band was never at a loss for success). While "The Game" may not have the same the sweeping and distinctive grandeur that "Night at the Opera" displayed, it is most certainly a consistent and compelling example of Queen's ever-present succinct, radio-friendly work. In its own way, its distinctiveness ties it to the `80s in the same way that "Night at the Opera" was tied to the `70s.
Queen's repertoire was amazingly cohesive despite the fact that there were four distinctive songwriters in the group. The depth of Mercury's delivery can be interpreted as representing an incredibly broad range of experiences, but it should be kept in mind that as he became the predominant lead singer for the group, his voice represented an amalgamation of four distinct personalities. This level of musical interactivity is unheard of in today's music scene. For example, "Save Me" is beautifully emotional, but Mercury's delivery of May's text reveals a pained experience that may not have been realized under different conditions.
The Lowdown: I did not realize exactly how much I knew about this album until I got it a few weeks ago. Overall, "The Game" is a great album full of great songs that represents a musical climate that has long since passed.
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