Queen began to modernise with The Game, stripping down their sound for minimalist and funky songs like ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and ‘Dragon Attack’. For the first time synthesizers are used on a Queen album, while the band also feel much more single oriented than they were previously. Despite these changes it’s hard to view The Game as a major transition point in Queen’s discography – ballads like ‘Play The Game’, ‘Save Me’ and ‘Sail Away Sweet Sister’ would have fit comfortably onto any 1970’s Queen album, and it’s a characteristic album in many respects.
The most identifiable song from the album is Deacon’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, standing out as the most assertive and aggressive song that the bass player ever wrote for Queen, using a funky bass riff and gangster imagery that’s markedly different from his usual sincere balladry. May’s ‘Dragon Attack’ is arguably one of his lesser Queen songs, but its minimalist arrangement is effective all the same, repetitive and brooding with an excellent drum solo. Other contemporary acts like The Clash and Elvis Costello were also paying homage to the fifties, and Mercury’s ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ (written in the bath, and featuring Mercury on acoustic guitars) does the same. ‘Play The Game’ is a strangely subdued opening to the album, but it’s one of Queen’s best ballads, especially the middle eight. ‘Sail Away Sweet Sister’ features a tender May vocal, and while ‘Save Me’ is overly bombastic, its elegant vocal melody is excellent nonetheless.
The Game is Queen’s most disjointed album yet, and apart from the singles and May’s contributions there’s nothing too impressive here, but those make up more than half the record in any case, and I can’t imagine any Queen fan wanting to pass this up.