News of the World
1977 was the year of punk in the UK, and it’s to their credit that Queen largely put aside their excesses and recorded a relatively straightforward album. Deacon’s ‘Who Needs You’ even nods towards reggae, an increasingly important force in British music during the late seventies, and Taylor’s ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ is abrasive enough to stand next to the punk from the era, while only ‘We Are The Champions’ and the choruses of ‘It’s Late’ really explode with the majesty of past and future Queen recordings.
News Of The World opens with the double A-side of ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’; if you’ve attended a major sporting event since 1977, you’re probably acquainted with these already. Once you get past them, there’s a treasure trove of unheralded Queen gems. Roger Taylor finally comes up with a great song with the rhythmic ‘Fight From The Inside’. May’s key song is ‘It’s Late’, a rare Queen song that communicates more verbally than it does musically, as an eloquent relationship eulogy. His emotional vocals on the gentle ‘All Dead, All Dead’ are as effective as always, even though it’s about a dead cat, while ‘Sleeping On The Sidewalks’ is the closest that Queen ever got to straight blues. Mercury’s ‘Get Down, Make Love’ is surprisingly effective, utilising a repetitive verse to create tension before the climactic chorus.
News Of The World is one of Queen’s most consistent albums. Due to the stripped back approach it probably doesn’t stand up to repeated listening as well as their earlier peaks, but with its engaging mix of styles it shows that Queen could still deliver a solidly crafted album even when stripped of the pomp and flamboyance that characterised their earlier work.