The period between 1986 and 1989 was difficult for Queen, with May struggling after his marriage breakup and Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis. After spending most of the 1980s avoiding sounding like Queen, the group found inspiration in adversity and bounced back with The Miracle, embracing their past successes. It’s difficult to find parallels for the epic scale of the multi-part title track or the rock anthem ‘I Want It All’ on a Queen record, without going right back to the mid 1970s; they’re not playing it safe like on The Works or following trends like on Hot Space, but brimming with fresh ideas in the knowledge that their days as a band are numbered.
The Miracle isn’t among their top echelon of albums since some ideas are awkwardly presented at times. The most awkward material opens the album, the duo of ‘Party’ and ‘Khashoggi’s Ship’ which are almost pointed in either deflating rumours about Mercury’s health and/or re-establishing the band as forty year old party animals. The album’s corrected by the one two punch of the epic title track, with an excellent coda which opens out when the instruments switch over late from a dissonant instrumental section, and rock anthem ‘I Want It All’ with a wailing lead riff from May. Suddenly Roger Taylor’s writing excellent songs consistently, and he contributes the singles ‘The Invisible Man’ and ‘Breakthru’ (more conventionally Queen-like, with an excellent a capella introduction). As well as ‘I Want It All’, May’s contributes the prickly ‘Scandal’, while closer ‘Was It All Worth It’ has a huge arrangement and some emotional pull.
The Miracle isn’t particularly coherent and it is awkward at times, but nonetheless the return to the classic Queen sound is refreshing and would be even more fully realised on their next record.