Queen: For­get the movie, just lis­ten to the mu­sic

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - INSIDE - Con­tact Shawn Ryan at mshawn­ryan@gmail.com.

“Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” the biopic on Queen lead singer Fred­die Mer­cury, is mostly get­ting “meh” re­views.

Rami Malek is re­ceiv­ing ku­dos for his per­for­mance as Mer­cury, but the film as a whole is be­ing de­scribed by some as shal­low, by-the-num­bers, some­times cheesy and unin­spir­ing.

That’s a shame. Mer­cury and the band de­serve more than “meh.” Of course, you must take my opin­ion with a large grain of salt since Queen is one of my all-time fa­vorite bands.

I saw them three times in con­cert — 1974, 1977, 1980 — and each time they were ex­cel­lent. My fa­vorite would be the 1974 show, when they were pro­mot­ing third al­bum “Sheer Heart At­tack,” and still do­ing songs from “Queen” and “Queen II,” the al­bum I like best of all their re­leases.

Start­ing with “A Day at the Opera,” they got a bit pre­cious, in my opin­ion, some­times fa­vor­ing campi­ness and the­atri­cal­ity over per­for­mance and song qual­ity. Sure, “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” is bril­liant, and who can re­sist “Tie Your Mother Down” or “It’s Late”? But stuff like “You’re My Best Friend” and “You Take My Breath Away” are sappy. “Get Down, Make Love” isn’t a song; it’s just a bunch of mu­si­cal love grunts and

an overly long per­for­mance in con­cert. And did Roger Tay­lor ever write a sin­gle de­cent song?

But each al­bum, whether I liked the whole or not, al­ways had a cou­ple of lesser-known but ter­rific tracks: “The Prophet’s Song” on “A Night at the Opera,” “The Mil­lion­aire Waltz” on “A Day at the Races,” “Spread Your Wings” on “News of the World,” “Don’t Try Sui­cide” on “The Game,” “I Want It All” on “The Mir­a­cle.”

I even like “Mustapha” on “Jazz,” which, ac­tu­ally, may be my fa­vorite late-in-life Queen al­bum.

Un­for­tu­nately, Queen never toured Amer­ica again af­ter “I Want To Break Free,” the sin­gle from 1984’s “The Works” that featured the band in drag for the video. MTV, as much as it wanted to be seen as cut­ting-edge and dar­ing, ran scared from the video be­cause it didn’t test well in mid­dle Amer­ica.

So in­stead of com­ing here, Queen went to places like South Amer­ica and East­ern Europe, where con­cert tours rarely trav­eled, and made a gajil­lion dol­lars.

It’s a shame that the film “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” didn’t live up to the hopes of Queen fans. But when you’re a huge fan of the band, it’s doubt­ful that it ever could.

Shawn Ryan

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