Even more than The Miracle, Innuendo is a reinstatement of the grandiose Queen of old; instead of comparing the group unfavourably to their seventies triumphs it’s now a case of them creating new benchmarks. ‘Hitman’ isn’t their best rocker they’ve ever done, but it’s arguably the heaviest. ‘The Show Must Go On’ might be the most emotionally powerful song in their entire catalogue. The title track isn’t as self-consciously epic as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or ‘The Prophet’s Song’, but the group have never sounded so effortlessly huge and majestic.
The book-ending tracks, ‘Innuendo’ and ‘The Show Must Go On’, do set a near impossible standard for the rest of the record to live up to, and it fails to meet them – despite the unity of sound, a few of the individual songs feel underwritten, not surprising as the group were battling against time with Mercury’s ill health in an effort to complete it. Like the last record, most of the strong material comes from May and Taylor – May contributes ‘The Show Must Go On’, one of Queen’s most effective pieces with the cartharthic, dramatic chorus and the gorgeous bridge: “My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies/Fairy tales of yesterday, will grow but never die”. The title track is a multi-part epic with a majestic vocal from Mercury, with Yes guitarist Steve Howe guesting in a mid song flamenco section. As well as claiming responsibility for the lyrics of ‘Innuendo’, Taylor contributes the nostalgic ballad ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’, which controls its sentimentality and is one of his best songs. May contributes the excellent rockers ‘Headlong’ and ‘I Can’t Live With You’.
The rest of the record doesn’t sustain these heights, and there’s throwaway material like Mercury’s ‘Delilah’, but Innuendo is the best Queen effort since News Of The World way back in 1977, and the title track and ‘The Show Must Go On’ are their strongest recordings since their 1970’s pomp.