Gretchen A. (yellowdance) from ANDOVER, MN Reviewed on 2/25/2009...
Even without the bonus tracks, this album is fantastic. "Forever" is even more hauntingly beautiful than "Who Wants to Live Forever."
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Ilker Yucel | Annapolis, MD United States | 11/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I could care less about Queen's popularity in the USA in the '80's. Popularity often has little to do with actual talent, as evidenced by the recent and seemingly undying wave of crappy boy-bands and bubblegum pop divas. If Queen were ever interested in popularity it was probably on an esoteric level, because no matter what they always churned out some brilliant and amazing music. "A Kind of Magic" is perhaps their best album of the '80's, mainly because of its connection with "Highlander," one of the best films of the decade. Only a band of such musical grandeur and classical pomposity like Queen could produce such amazing music for such a film."One Vision" as well its extended version (vision) were featured on the "Iron Eagle" soundtrack, and its claim to fame is that it was written before Live Aid, though recorded after it. A good epic song with amazing interplay of guitars and synths, as well as Freddie's little joke at the end."A Kind of Magic," the title track, and taken from a line in "Highlander" definitely fits the bill as one of Queen's best pop-rock songs. Brian May never ceases to amaze with his interweaving guitar lines. Roger Taylor's lyrics tie in perfectly with the film, and John Deacon's basslines, while simple, are infectious. A song so good, it's the only one featured in the sequel."One Year of Love" is a simple little love song, with Freddie giving one of his best vocal performances. The saxophone solo complements nicely."Pain is So Close to Pleasure" is an okay song, though not one of my favorites. I'll give points to Freddie for an amazing falsetto vocal, but the song contains little else to keep my interest."Friends Will Be Friends" is also one I could have done without, although it became a bit of a live staple. It's simplicity of theme and lyric probably made it the perfect pop feel-good song.Brian May has outdone himself with "Who Wants to Live Forever," one of the saddest and most beautiful songs ever written. The orchestra by Michael Kamen ties it in with the film's score seamlessly, and the vocal interplay between Brian and Freddie will bring tears to the eyes. A previous reviewer remarked that all "Highlander" fans would want this played at their funeral...I won't argue.Things get kicking into high gear with "Gimme the Prize," also known as "Kurgan's Theme." Loud, bombastic, thundering, and just plain evil sounding, this song captures the character of Kurgan. One can sense from the sound of this song the man's evil and his thirst for death. The samples from the movie showcasing some of the character's best lines certainly add to the overall atmosphere, and the guitar solo sounds oddly Scottish with an almost electric bagpipe sound. The drum and guitar riffs also tie in nicely with "Princes of the Universe." Great song."Don't Lose Your Head" might've been better on this album if it was featured in a version that was closer to how it sounded in the film. Its synth bassline was only used briefly in the film, but it worked. Here, it just sounds like a regular darkwave song, which isn't really bad, but not great either. Joan Armatrading's backup vocal is nothing to speak of either as far as I'm concerned.And now the "Highlander" theme, the ultimate musical and lyrical complement to the film, Freddie Mercury's short but epic "Princes of the Universe." The song is chock full of Queen's trademark vocal melodies and choruses, layers upon layers upon layers of guitars and vocals. Roger's drumming is top-notch on this song, just powerful and loud. Deacon's bass keeps the sound grounded, while May's guitar licks just soar to unbelievable heights. Did I mention the vocals, the opening vocal chorus is probably the best Queen has ever sounded. Easily my favorite Queen song...period!"Forever" is probably filler, but a solo piano rendition of "Who Wants to Live Forever" just adds one more sweet touch to link the album to the film.I honestly think this is Queens' best album of the '80's, and not just because of the "Highlander" connection. I really think these songs are the best Queen has written since 1977, and they would not write an album so good until 1991's "Innuendo." I will miss Freddie Mercury and Queen, but with albums so great as this, they left a wonderful legacy. There have been far too many "Highlander" spinoffs since the original film, and only the TV-series came close to getting it right, but for me nothing will beat the original film, and no sound will ever be "Highlander" more than Queen's "A Kind of Magic.""
Stephen Morrison Lewis | New England, USA | 10/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the early 80s, Queen were contacted to do a song for a new movie, "Highlander." Intrigued by the movie, they agreed to do more than just one. Queen performs every non-orchestra track that appears in the soundtrack to Highlander. However, no actual soundtrack was released (Despite the claims of the movie's credits).Enter Queen, "A Kind of Magic." While these are not the same versions, they are indeed the same songs. From the theme to Highlander (Princes of the Universe) to the Title Track, played during the closing credits, most of the songs from Highlander appear here. One Vision, featured in the Film "Iron Eagle" appears here also, along with a bonus extended version of it.Missing from the Highlander set are Hammer to Fall, which appears on "the Works." and "New York, New York," which cannot be verified to exist, short of the clip in the movie. Enough about Highlander, on to the songs themselves.The highlights are clear: A Kind of Magic contains entire guitar lessons and chapters of music theory in BRian's solo. Princes of the Universe contains Queen's Trademark power rock harmonies and excellent guitar. Who Wants to Live Forever shows off the sheer Beauty of Freddie's Voice. Gimme The Prize (The Kurgan's Theme) is awesome hard rock. Don't Lose Your Head is a more synth pop oriented song, but shows what the rest of the 80s musicians should have done with them (Aside from maybe the cars). Forever, an instrumental piano based version of Brian's touching ballad, delivers depths in the fashion of true masters of symphonic music.Despite Queen's loss of popularity in the US during the 80s, all of their records have essential hits on them, even "The Game" (Which features Another One bites the Dust, Dragon Attack, and Save Me). "A Kind of Magic" is no exception, featuring many solid songs which are essentials to any Queen or serious rock collections.I recommend this both for it being a solid Queen album, and for it being the closest you can get to a Highlander Soundtrack. I'd rather get the cuts to "Princes" and "AKoM," but I will take what I can get."
Who wants to live forever...and who doesn't own this yet?
Melissa Menifield | Pittsburgh, PA | 01/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am absolutely mad for two things: Queen and the "Highlander" movie. Put the two togehter, and you have one great concept. This album was born out of the songwriting sessions for the "Highlander" film, although you can't exactly say that the album is a soundtrack album. The music definitely stands on its own. I know that in the 1980's Queen was not that popular, but the fact that this album was overlooked is next to unforgivable. The beautiful "Who Wants to Live Forever" is one of the best songs ever written. The wonderful ballads combined with greats such as "Princes of the Universe" and the title track add up to one of the most essential 80's Queen albums. I only wish I could have seen these songs performed live."
80's music at its best!
vyper | 10/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Queen is one of the best bands ever, and this is one of their best albums, and probably one of the top five of the mid-eighties. Many of these songs are included in the film "Highlander." This album has something for everyone. "One Vision" is a world anthem, "Princes of the Universe" and "Kurgan's Theme" will get you pumped, "Who Wants To Live Forever" is beyond beautiful, "One Year Of Love" is perfect for the likes of Trisha Yearwood, "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure" and "A Kind of Magic" are classic 80's songs, "Friends Will Be Friends" is something that I'd expect to be played at a place where friendship is the theme, "Forever" is a beautiful instrumental version of "Who Wants to Live Forever," and should be played at the funeral of every diehard Queen fan. I would reccomend this album to any fan of Queen, Highlander, 80's music, or just anyone wanting to hear some kick-ass stuff. A message to the dude from Farming Hills: My advice to you is to go back and give this album another listen, I'm sure you'll change your tune. And if you think that Hot Space is better than Innuendo, you better think again, Innuendo is their best album, and I highly reccomend it to you, and everyone reading this."
It's missing something.........
vyper | Minneapolis | 10/31/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A Kind of Magic seems a bit uninspired to me.Although the band is as confident and sharp as ever in their execution,the songwriting is weak.
One Vision is an 80's style Queen rocker,although the "rock"at this stage in their career seemed to be getting pushed further back in favor of pop.It's A Kind of Magic I belive is a brilliant pop song in every aspect,even though I thought it was a Pepsi commercial when I first heard it.We are a long ways from Ogre Battle and March of the Black Queen here follks!
One Year of Love is a standard love song with sax solo and over the top Freddie vocals.Pain is so close to Pleasure has Freddie singing in falsetto over bass heavy synths and in terms of Queen's best,is very lackluster.Friends will be Friends has never done much for me.
Who Wants to Live Forever is a great cinematic epic by Brian.Gimme the Prize,while very pedestrian in it's structure,has a monsterous vocal attack by Freddie and Brian May's faux bagpipe guitar solo.Don't Lose Your Head is a drum and synth heavy number by Roger Taylor,and is a complete waste,uninspired background techno,stupid lyrics,etc.Why Roger why?Princes of the Universe is a charging balls to the wall rocker by Freddie where it seems they're trying to retain some of the old Queen elements.
This album has it's merits but it's simply too lackluster to hold up to the best of Queen.Even The Works was more inspired than this,and there are too many limp songs on this album.It seems Queen moved very far away from their bluesy/prog rock roots during the 80's.At times it seems Freddie and the boys are pop stars TRYING to rock out.And the songs that are memorable are so over the top you either love them or loathe them it can seem at times.
Luckily,with the followup album The Miracle,Queen finally fused all the elements together and made a good modern hi-tech pop album(though by no means classic or perfect).To me,they never again(even with the pomp of Innuendo)were able to make albums filler free,without one wince inducing number to make you say"What were they thinking?".
But to paraphrase,"Yes,they kept on trying.........""