- QUEEN Radio Ga Ga (EMI)
- Week Ending 25th February 1984
- 1 week at #1
Despite my relative lack of interest in pop music as a child, I was familiar with Queen’s hits during the 1970s and early 1980s. Who wouldn’t be, when Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are The Champions, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Will Rock You and Another One Bites The Dust were everywhere at the time?
What had always struck me, even with only a passing connection to the charts, was how Queen’s sound never stayed the same (“our music changes through the years” indeed); prog rock, glam pop, new wave, retro rockabilly, funk…..they adapted and evolved with the ages. Yet this gave them a slightly cold and calculating air; would the real Queen please stand up? Of course, this multi-headed and musically fluid beast was the real Queen, a quirk of having four supremely gifted songwriters and musicians all in the same group, and all determined to showcase their talents.
Radio Ga Ga was awash with synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers, a paean to the Golden Age of the wireless set to a Metropolis-inspired video. The melody is gorgeous, the production is sumptuous and it’s as far from the concept of a “typical” Queen record as you could have imagined (well, at least until the chorus falls back on a similar terrace-chant style to We Will Rock You). Had the band finally moved into the synthpop era and embraced it full-on?
Not quite; the rest of parent album The Works covered familiar ground, with its mix of Brian May rockers, lavish Freddie Mercury pastiches, and one of John Deacon’s most enduring pop songs in I Want To Break Free which was arguably even more successful than Radio Ga Ga and nearly gave them consecutive #1s on my own chart.
80’s Queen are so much fun. I only have Greatest Hits II, but have always been in awe of the high quality of all of its tracks. Maybe, one day, I should look into some of their albums.
I seemed to gravitate towards Roger’s efforts on the 80s albums (on A Kind Of Magic it was the title cut and especially Don’t Lose Your Head, and then on The Miracle it was The Invisible Man. The lack of other synth-y tracks on The Works surprised me a little at first, as I wasn’t familiar enough with Queen to realise that May, Mercury and Deacon would always drag things back to a more traditional rock direction overall. Yet there are some really enduring tracks on the album besides Radio Ga Ga. Just none that equal it, in my humble opinion!