Hi. Twas the night before The Miracle and all through the land
We were all simply wondering ‘bout The Invisible Man
Would the drums be more natural, would the bass be as hearty
The Miracle more subtle…(let’s forget about Party)
Breakthru is welcome…like catching that train
But certain I don’t need Rain Must Fall again.
Was it All Worth it – that’s great in my eyes
And Face it Alone was a welcome surprise
So hearing the new stuff should be pretty neat
I have it available to me now, so I will listen while I eat. Thanks to Richard Hearn for a large part of the poem and I had to change the ending of it, to reflect my own situation at the time. Anyway, thanks Richard.
To be fair, I will also be giving the new album by Disturbed a listen as I am also a fan of them, along with maybe checking out the new album by Nickelback, but Queen usurps them all and I will be devoting most of my attention to all of the goodies, which I will be discussing in the next post. Also, I don’t necessarily listen to music while I’m eating breakfast, lunch or dinner these days. I listen to comedy albums or spoken word albums, or I watch YouTube videos and listen to audio content on my iPhone, or I will watch a TV show in my library. So, I just skimmed through The Miracle deluxe and super deluxe versions and I will talk about my personal highlights in the next post.
It is November 18th and we have been waiting for this day, since Face It Alone had been released on October 13th and on the same day, we were able to preorder new deluxe and super deluxe versions, of the album I will be talking about today and in the next post. What I’m going to do here is go over reactions to the album (which are known to me) and my own reaction to it, when I had purchased it in 1991. So, this post will cover the period from 1989 to 1991. I will talk about select tracks and they may be singles, or album tracks I like the most. Let’s read on to see what I will say, because I don’t even know what I’m going to write here.
The Miracle is Queen’s 13th studio album and it was released on May 22nd 1989 by Parlophone Records and Capitol Records in both the United Kingdom and the USA, respectively, where it was the band’s first album to be credited to Queen, with the song writing. Altho, we now know who wrote what if we know where to look. This is where Wikipedia does serve a purpose and unless there is that dreaded “citation needed” statement after a bit of information, it is probably correct. The Miracle is also the final studio album to be released on those respective labels throughout the world, as both are part of the same main record company, which Queen would leave 21 years later outside of North America. In the US and Canada, Queen would sign with Hollywood Records in 1990 and release Innuendo in 1991, but that is another post for another day. Altho, The Miracle would be rereleased on Hollywood Records in the fall of 1991, but I will talk about that in the next post and my feelings on it.
The album was recorded as the band recovered from Brian’s marital problems and Freddie’s then unknown HIV diagnosis in 1987. Recording started in January 1988 and lasted for an entire year. Compound that with Freddie and Montserrat Caballé also recording the Barcelona album on top of recording with Queen. Add on to that, one song from Innuendo which was started around that time and Brian beginning his first solo album Back To The Light, which wouldn’t come out until September 28th 1992 in Europe and on February 2nd 1993 in the US and Canada.
Apparently, it wasn’t supposed to be called The Miracle and was originally going to have the name The Invisible Men. Could you imagine a title like that? Thank God they had changed their minds and called their brand new baby The Miracle. This is also the last Queen album with a photo of the band on the front cover.
The first single was I Want It All and obviously, it was a perfect song for North American fans and more importantly, North American radio and video channels on TV, such as Much Music and MTV. The song should have been allowed to be played live with Freddie, but I’ll get more into that later on. What I like about the song is that it changes to speed metal in the middle section and not many songs change so abruptly like that and especially, when trying to make inroads back into the North American consciousness, after some years in the wilderness (in this part of the world). Unfortunately, most people didn’t bite and so, the album didn’t do as well as it should have
Throughout the rest of the world, both the single and album was also a hit and I found that out, on a weekly countdown show on the radio, when they used to have those and no, it wasn’t American Top 40 and the track I had heard on that show was The Miracle, months before it was released as a single. I believe that the show was looking at the top albums and The Miracle happened to be near the top, or at the top of the album charts in Germany. I wish I could remember the radio show, but I don’t.
As for reaction, I Want It All had lost in a new music challenge on an AM radio station in Hamilton Ontario and for the life of me, I don’t remember what the other song was. Concerning FM rock radio, reaction to it was also kinda negative because of songs like The Invisible Man and other songs using a drum machine. However, the point track for rock radio seemed to be Was It All Worth It, which I had heard on a show called The 6 Oclock Rock Report and it was on a Thursday in May of 1989. The radio station had got The Miracle as an import and as I had mentioned earlier, it was a rather cool reception to the album, because of the keyboards and drum machines on most tracks. Like I said, Was It All Worth It was the only song worth playing on the radio station I had listened to (besides I Want It All). Was It All Worth It was also being played on the same radio station’s metal show on Friday nights at midnight. I thought that was weird, but the guy who hosted this show also considered The Who’s cover of Young Man Blues from Live At Leads to be worthy of inclusion so, I don’t know. Anyway, I Want It All and Breakthrough got some radio play on some radio stations that I know of, including FM96 in London Ontario. They are a rock station, but at the time they had no problem with adding songs by bands, which lean toward pop and that had changed in the 90s, when alternative rock had taken over and it was all rock without any deviation from then on.
I first bought The Miracle on CD in 1991, as I was getting into Queen and it was the Capital Records version on CD. I enjoyed it, even with all of the bouncing from genre to genre as I had become used to it with The Beatles and other Queen albums. It also happens to be one of my favourite 80s Queen albums, because Freddie’s voice. I found his singing to be much more flexible, with his ability to growl and snarl more ferociously than ever, as well as doing a vulnerable vocal line with the same amount of sincerity. An example of Freddie’s gravelly voiced growling is on I Want It All and Was It All Worth It, where he could be channeling Roger Daltrey for all I know, even if it was subconsciously. Listen to how Freddie growls the words “young fighter screamin'” among other lines in I Want It All. What Freddie does on these songs and others throughout his career with Queen and solo, is called vocal distortion and many rock singers do that, in order to make what they are singing mean something. You know the sound when you hear it and it comes in many forms. Right? Here is I Want It All with only vocals. I don’t know why this video begins with something unrelated to the song, but okay. https://youtu.be/MbLWXVqsW2M
Other songs I like the most include: Was It All Worth It, A Little Rain Must Fall, The Miracle and The Invisible Man. The latter song is interesting, in that even though it was written by Roger (credited to Queen) it is Brian whispering “I’m the invisible man”, with Roger singing the same words in the chorus. If you know Brian and Roger’s speaking voices, their accents and vocal cadences, it’s not hard to figure out why I believe this. Some people didn’t believe me and simply couldn’t invision Brian with that menacing whisper, because he is so gentle. Well, didn’t Brian write the bulk of the aggressive songs in Queen’s discography? Also, Brian would do all of the backing vocals on Heaven For Everyone on Made In Heaven and sing the lead vocals on the second chorus of Fat Bottomed Girls, among other examples of Brian having a more aggressive side to him. So, here is the song, in a new way of listening to it, which I had heard many times before when I was younger, but I didn’t know what it was I was listening to. I’ll try to explain below and the whispering is really clear. https://youtu.be/7sswu0AlzPk
What you just heard was the instrumentation from the left and right being isolated, while everything in the centre has been reduced to echo and studio affects, if any. I used to love listening to music like that, in order to learn songs on guitar and discover other little nuances you wouldn’t hear normally, when just listening to the song through speakers or headphones. I used to do this with a walkman by pulling out the headphone jack to the point where it would still allow sounds to come through, but unlike the video above, it would all be in mono. I used to call this funny mono, but I had no idea of the technical term for what I was listening to. There are countless examples of hearing music and spoken word albums like that, as long as they are in stereo and they pan around a lot. If you have any of the Monty Python albums, pay attention to where the voices are placed and if and when they move to one side, or the other. Like I said, there are millions of examples of this in both music and comedy and that has always fascinated me. Now, their are applications which do something similar, with isolating certain instruments and unfortunately, it’s not the best, unless you can find isolated instruments or vocals on Youtube, like I did with I Want It All. By the way, I will do a post on record producers and studio trickery in the future, as I know it. I don’t know everything, but I will give you any knowledge I have, of how records are made in general. I will even try to give an answer as to what a producer’s job actually is and it depends on the personalities involved. Anyway, I digress.
Retrospective reactions to The Miracle may be what they are, but a friend of mine at school had said to me that this is a deep album. Well, if The Miracle is deep so is Hysteria by Def Leppard and every other Queen album so, how is this album any more varied and diverse than others? Maybe because of both studio and musical technology, but Queen have always experimented with how far they could go, with basic ingredients, with a few chords and Freddie’s flamboyants and swagger, along with musical sophistication. That is what sets Queen apart from everyone and other bands have some of one or the other, but not necessarily both. Then again, Van Halen did have Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth with their combination of stage moves between each other and Kiss and the four characters, along with pyrotechnics. Queen has all of that and the musicianship to burn so, they are on their own mountain. Um… … how did I get onto this?
Over all, I generally like The Miracle and it is probably my favourite album of the later period, from A Kind Of Magic onward. The only odd thing about it is how Party starts it off, almost cold. Basically, a drum beat for a couple of bars and then the song gets going, with no time to disarm the listener starting from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. It’s kinda the same one-two punch with Khashoggi’s Ship after it, similar to how We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions opens News of the World, with a similar one-two punch. The difference is that We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions were singles while Party and Khashoggi’s Ship are just the first two tracks on a Queen album.
I will get into album sequencing when I talk about A Night At The Opera 3 days from now and I will also do a separate post on that topic in the future, because not every album has the same personality, like people and even drum sounds. I will say here, that I do think that Was It All Worth It is the perfect ending to the album, as it is a bit of a throwback by Freddie and it starts off with a haunting vocal from him, going into the notes of the main guitar riff, but on keyboards in another key. I didn’t really listen to the song that closely until 1991, as Innuendo had just come out and months before I had bought The Miracle on cd, a day before my 18th birthday in 1991.
The cd has 3 bonus tracks on it, but I will save that discussion for part 2 of this post and I will also be talking about the Hollywood Records reissue, the 2011 deluxe version and the 2022 super deluxe version, after listening to the latter. However, I will end off this post with something from a Youtube series which had gone on last year, to March of 2022. QUEEN THE GREATEST was designed to celebrate Queen’s 50 years as a band, with highlights, focusing on all 4 members and their songs, significant events in Queen’s history and more. This was a well received 50-part YouTube series, which drew an impressive 15.6 million views, including myself at 7:00 AM ET every Friday morning. I even made sure to save the playlist on the Youtube app, so I could listen to it any time I want. Unfortunately, the series would play in backwards order, but at least I can access it at any time, as long as I have internet on my phone. Anyway, the series has Returned with TWO special The Miracle episodes and here is Queen The Greatest – The Miracle Part 1. https://youtu.be/TI15839o-hs