4/24/13

An Album A Day #23: Queen's INNUENDO [1991]

HERC's first memory of Queen's music is the day HERC SR. bought the "Bohemian Rhapsody" single home in 1975.  The label had a butterfly on it and the grooves contained some of the most operatic rock HERC had ever heard.
Thus began a lifelong love affair with the music of Queen culminating in the band's 20th Anniversary in 1991. To celebrate, the band's new label in America (Hollywood Records) was digitally remastering all of their previous albums and including remixes as bonus tracks on the CDs and HERC bought every disc as they were released.  Leading the charge was Queen's latest album, their 14th: Innuendo and the initial US single, the cheeky and rocking "Headlong":



The band was in fine form twenty years into their career, still rocking on that single.  Brian May and Roger Taylor did all the publicity for the album and announced that they would not be touring because Freddie Mercury didn't want to be an "aging rocker" onstage.  The album's next single in the States was the epic title track, partially inspired by Led Zeppelin's mighty "Kashmir":


The album was an immediate chart-topper across Europe yet only managed to hit #30 on the Top 200 in the States.  In an effort to appeal to US listeners, "I Can't Live With You" was remixed to give it a more "poppy" sound and although it did manage to chart on the Mainstream Rock chart, the song like all of Innuendo's singles failed to make the Hot 100.


A suitably madcap video was filmed to accompany "I'm Going Slightly Mad".  The song is also notable for a rare Brian May slide guitar solo.  Freddie Mercury looks noticeably gaunt in the video and rumors swirled about the state of his health while his band mates said he was doing fine.


For HERC, the hardest video to watch from this period is "These Are The Days Of Our Lives", which is the last video Mercury filmed before his declining health prohibited him from performing.  The video was shot in black and white in an effort to conceal Freddie's worsening condition and later released color footage reveals the severity of his illness.  In hindsight, somehow it seems as if he knew the end was near, as he says "I still love you" at the end as a sort of goodbye to his fans.  The song was released here in America for Mercury's 45th birthday - September 5, 1991.


Innuendo's final single was also the final song on the album, a beautiful declaration of carrying on in the face of insurmountable odds fittingly titled "The Show Must Go On".  The moving and ultimately inspiring song has been the closing track on every Queen mixtape HERC has made since 1991.  (And there have been quite a few.)  The video for the song was comprised of clips from previous Queen videos over the last decade and was used to promote their Greatest Hits II collection which was released in October 1991.


That collection (above) featured four singles from Innuendo - only "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" was omitted.  Mercury's untimely passing a little over a month after it's release only fueled the already strong worldwide sales of Queen's music, especially their two greatest hits collections.  While their music could be overly dramatic at times, ultimately their music brings nothing but happiness to HERC's ears when he listens.  Watching their final videos, however, is another story.  This album is a definite favorite for all times.

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