Queen - News Of The World

NME.COM feature on Queen - News Of The World album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 10 October 1994

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Queen - News Of The World: Wikipedia Album Entry

News of the World is the sixth studio album by English rock band Queen, released in 1977.

Containing hit songs "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" and "Spread Your Wings", the album went platinum in the United Kingdom, four times platinum in the United States and achieved high certifications elsewhere throughout the world also.

News of the World was the second album to be produced solely by the band (the first being A Day at the Races) and was recorded at Sarm West and Wessex Studios, England and co-produced and engineered by Mike Stone.


Background
After releasing A Day at the Races, Queen's self-producing debut and followup to A Night at the Opera which featured their magnum opus "Bohemian Rhapsody", having received some criticism that Races was a "boring" album, Queen decided to shift their musical focus towards the mainstream, but remaining as the producers of the next album. After completing the A Day at the Races Tour, the quartet re-entered the studio to begin work on their sixth studio offering in July 1977, enlisting Mike Stone as assistant producer at the Basing Street Studios in Wessex, London. The group completed recording and production of the album two months later in September and released the album on 28 October. Initially, the album's critical response was mixed, and some was rather negative commenting that the group had again produced a "bland" album; however as the singles for the album were released, the reviews' favourability improved, and sales quickly improved.

During the recording of the album, the Sex Pistols were recording their album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols in the next studio and Johnny Rotten was eager to meet Mercury, so he crawled on all fours through Queen's studio, up to the side of the piano where Mercury was playing, and said "Hello, Freddie!" before crawling out.

Brian May describes News of the World as being a "rootsier" album than previous Queen records, partly due to the punk scene breaking at that time, which inspired Queen to record a more "back to basics" rock album. News of the World is a less finely polished production than their previous offerings. The complex vocal harmonies and guitar orchestrations that are used heavily in earlier Queen albums are used much more sparingly and subtly on this album.


Track listing
Side one
# Title Writer(s) Length
1. "We Will Rock You" Brian May 2:01
2. "We Are the Champions" Freddie Mercury 2:59
3. "Sheer Heart Attack" Roger Taylor 3:26
4. "All Dead, All Dead" Brian May 3:09
5. "Spread Your Wings" John Deacon 4:32
6. "Fight from the Inside" Roger Taylor 3:03

Side two
# Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Get Down, Make Love" Freddie Mercury 3:51
8. "Sleeping on the Sidewalk" Brian May 2:59
9. "Who Needs You" John Deacon 3:07
10. "It's Late" Brian May 6:27
11. "My Melancholy Blues" Freddie Mercury 3:29

1991 bonus track (Hollywood Records CD reissue)
# Title Writer(s) Length
12. "We Will Rock You (1991 Bonus Remix Ruined by Rick Rubin)" Brian May 4:47


Song information

We Will Rock You
Main article: We Will Rock You
"We Will Rock You" (Sample (info)) was released in the UK as a B-side to "We Are the Champions", and became one of Queen's biggest songs worldwide. A staple of arena and stadium sports everywhere, it was a conscious decision by Brian May to make the song simple and anthemic ("stomp, stomp, clap, pause" in a 4/4 metre), so that their live audience could be more directly involved in the show. Elektra Records in the US recommended putting "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" together as a single, and the double A-side reached #4 in the US in 1978. In the video for "We Will Rock You" and "Spread Your Wings", May used a copy of his guitar. He supposedly didn't want to commit his Red Special to outside conditions, as the videos for these songs featured the band performing in the snow at Taylor's garden.


We Are the Champions
Main article: We Are the Champions
According to Freddie Mercury, "We Are the Champions" had been already written in 1975 but it wasn't recorded until 1977. Mercury was thinking about football when he wrote it and was surprised that nobody composed anything to overtake it as a sports anthem. "We Are the Champions" was the first promotional video for which fan club members were invited to participate in the filming. The video was filmed at the New London Theatre 6 October 1977. Everyone got a single and Queen did a free concert after the shoot.


Sheer Heart Attack
"Sheer Heart Attack" was half-finished at the time of the eponymous album. Roger Taylor sang lead on the demo but for the definitive version the band decided Mercury should sing lead vocals (probably based on the fact that May had already sung two songs and Taylor one). Guitars[citation needed] and bass were played by Taylor, apart from some guitar "screams" by May during the instrumental section.

During this time, the punk rock movement went into full effect, and this song was viewed as something of a jab at the musicians who felt bands like Queen were too self-indulgent. Of note is the lyric "I feel so inarticulate", and the fact that Taylor stated in interviews that he thought many of the 1970s punk bands had very little talent.

German Heavy metal band Helloween covered the song. The cover can be heard as a B-side for their single "Just a Little Sign".


All Dead, All Dead
"All Dead, All Dead" was written and sung by May, and features Mercury on backing vocals; May also plays piano. Lyrically, the song deals with May's experiences following the death of his childhood pet cat.


Spread Your Wings
Main article: Spread Your Wings
"Spread Your Wings" (Sample (info)) was written by John Deacon. The piano is played by Mercury, although Deacon mimes it in the music video. The video was filmed at Roger Taylor's house at that time in his backyard, when the weather was freezing, and the band was performing in the snow. Mercury can be seen wearing star-shaped sunglasses in the video. Guitarist Brian May is seen playing a copy of his Red Special due to the cold weather conditions. Also, drummer Roger Taylor can be seen singing in the video despite there are no backing vocals in the entire song. It was the first Queen single without harmony vocals.


Fight from the Inside
"Fight from the Inside" was written and sung by Roger Taylor. In addition to the drums, Taylor also plays rhythm and bass guitar, the latter borrowed from Deacon himself.

The track is built around a jangly guitar riff and is amongst the first in the Queen catalogue to focus predominantly on the drums and bass, as opposed to the lead guitars. Lyrically, the song can be interpreted as an expression of scorn directed at punk rock fans which at the time had lambasted Queen

Guitarist Slash has cited the guitar riff to this song as one of his favourite riffs of all time.


Get Down, Make Love
"Get Down, Make Love", written by Mercury, is among the most sexual-oriented songs in the Queen catalogue.

The distinctive 'psychedelic' sound effects heard in the song were not produced on a synthesizer, but on May's Red Special and an Electroharmonix Frequency Analyzer pedal, which he would often do live. These sound effects, together with Mercury's moans and groans, were expanded upon during live renditions of the song, presenting the band an opportunity to show off the full potential of their stage lights and effects.

The song was later covered by Nine Inch Nails, appearing on their "Sin" single.


Sleeping on the Sidewalk
"Sleeping On The Sidewalk", written and sung by May, was inspired by Eric Clapton. It was recorded in one take. Lyrically, it deals with an aspiring trumpet player's career, delivered in a "rags-to-riches" fashion. May sings with an American accent, providing some near-authentic blues credibility to the jam, and measures the aforementioned trumpet player's success by "bucks" (as opposed to pounds). On a close inspection, John Deacon can be heard playing the wrong notes in some bass parts, and Brian May can also be heard laughing at the end of the song. It is also one of the few Queen songs that does not feature Mercury.

The reason the song is so aloof is because it was a first take. The band was not aware they were being recorded at the time, and were simply practicing, while the engineer had turned on the recording, but Brian May denied the authenticity of this.


Who Needs You
"Who Needs You" was written by Deacon, who, along with May, also plays Spanish guitar (also heard on "Innuendo"). May also plays maracas and Mercury plays a cowbell. The song is fairly similar to Deacon's earlier song "Misfire", in terms of music.


It's Late
"It's Late", written by May, was the author's idea of treating a song as a three-act theatrical play. It makes use of the tapping technique before Eddie Van Halen of rock group Van Halen brought the technique into the mainstream.


My Melancholy Blues
"My Melancholy Blues" was composed by Mercury. There are no backing vocals or guitars. Despite the title, the track is more related to jazz. Deacon played fretless bass on stage during this song but used a regular fretted bass on the record.


Omitted tracks

Feelings, Feelings
Unreleased track by Brian May.


Cover

Astounding Science Fiction, October 1953The album's cover was a painting by award-winning American sci-fi artist Frank Kelly Freas. Taylor had an issue of Astounding Science Fiction (October 1953) whose cover-art depicted a giant intelligent robot holding the dead body of a man. The caption read: "Please... fix it, Daddy?" to illustrate the story "The Gulf Between" by Tom Godwin. The robot killing the man was likened to a child injuring a bug and looking up at his parents saying "what have I done?". The painting inspired the band to contact Freas, who agreed to alter the painting for their album cover, by replacing the single dead man with the four "dead" band members (Taylor and Deacon falling to the ground). The original painting (also called The Gulf Between) features on the cover of Freas's collection of art As He Sees It (Paper Tiger, 2000).

Brian May confirmed the cover was Roger Taylor's idea on an episode of the US radio show In the Studio with Redbeard, which devoted an episode to the making of News of the World.


Singles
"We Are the Champions" released 7 October 1977 in the UK as the first single where it reached #2. In the US, it was released as a Double A-side with "We Will Rock You" where it reached #4.
"Spread Your Wings" followed as the second single from the album. Written by John Deacon and released in the UK on 10 February 1978, it reached #34.
"It's Late" is the last single from the album and was only released as a single in the United States, Canada, Japan and New Zealand in 1978. Only reached #74 in the US, failing to chart everywhere else.

Reception

Critical response
News of the World initially received mixed reviews, mostly reflecting on the differences to the previously predominantly progressive rock sound produced by Queen, and this album's vast shift towards a more pop-rock oriented sound. Following the immense success of singles "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions", the critical reception shifted towards a more positive stance, as it became evident that the band was displaying another field of their musical ability.

Charts
Country Charts Sales
Peak position Weeks Certification Units sold
Belgium 1
Brasil 1
Canada 1 3xPlatinum 600,000
France 1 Gold 560,000
Israel 1
Ireland 1
Mexico 1
Netherlands 1 3xPlatinum 250,000
Portugal 1 Silver 10,000
Japan 3 250,000
United States 3 36 4x Platinum 4,500,000
Norway 4 21
United Kingdom 4 20 2x Platinum 600,000
Germany 5 Platinum 700,000
Austria 9 28
Sweden 9 8
Swiss Platinum 70.000


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