Album Review: “Innuendo” & “The Miracle” by Queen



UNITED STATES – JANUARY 01: Photo of QUEEN; Posed group portrait – Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deason (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Jerel LaLone, Writer

While the music industry is always changing with what types of music play on the radio, the length of songs, and the overall popular genres of music changing with the times there are still many bands that have held up against the passing time. One of those is the band Queen, known best even today for their hits such as “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Another One Bites The Dust”, and “We Are The Champions”, all of which have been listened to by many & recognized by people around the world, Queen has definitely impacted many future artists long after them, even those that do not play music in the Rock Genre. However, while Queen is typically only known for those three songs and a few others thrown in there, what should be brought to attention should also be their former lead singer Freddie Mercury, for his determination to continue doing what he loves for his fans, despite everything that he had faced towards the end of his life & his battle with AIDS. 

While this topic may not be of great significance to many CHS staff or students, I believe it is important for people to know of Freddie Mercury’s life after 1985, and his fight with AIDS as he is still a large reason many musicians today were inspired to create their music, and has made great contributions to the music industry with his vocals and the other three band members of Queen. This is to encourage others to read about this band, and look into their music beyond stuff that everyone knows, and to understand that Freddie Mercury is still arguably one of the greatest showmen of all time. I hope that upon reading this article you will listen to the two albums I will be going over in specific, and hopefully even take time to listen to more albums from Queen in general.

It should be mentioned that Freddie Mercury had passed away due to AIDS-related complications in 1991, but even as he received the news of his condition many years prior he continued to sing and even do live performances for his fans up until 1986 where he had finally decided that his worsening condition was affecting his performance live, along with the virus beginning to show physical changes to Mercury’s appearance. This was followed with much press speculation and coverage constantly, which unfortunately stayed with Mercury up until his death. However, during this period he still continued to create music and make public appearances despite his rapidly changing appearance in the way of getting thinner from the virus, and growing a beard in order to hide the lesions on his face at the time. At the beginning of his condition he had also taken medications which made him bloated at first, sparking the press attention to his condition. Throughout all of this pain he was likely experiencing both mentally and physically Queen was still able to produce music videos and albums, their first of which at this period would be the album titled “The Miracle”.

The Miracle was the thirteenth studio album from Queen, released in 1989, four years after their famous appearance at Live Aid (As shown in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody for context), which was assumed to be Mercury’s last album due to his complications from AIDS progressing further throughout his body. However, despite what pain he was going through during the production of these albums he did not stop singing, even still making multiple takes of each song he performed for the album, as well as making music videos for a few of the songs such as “I Want It All”, “Scandal”, “The Miracle”, and “Breakthru” to name the most notable during this time. In the behind the scenes videos to these it was very clear Mercury was in pain and his mobility during production began to become limited, which later would be because one of his feet needed to be amputated due to the virus. The final song on the album, “Was It All Worth It” was originally written by the band in belief that this may be the last song sung by Mercury and likely Queen as a result, and because of that it acts as a reflection on Queen as a band, and Mercury’s personal thoughts on his career choice which he deemed at the end of the songs to be a “Worthwhile experience.”  Overall, the album is a very upbeat while still sticking to Queens reputation as a rock band, but towards the end the listener can begin to understand that Mercury’s condition was worsening both vocally and physically, shown in the lyrics to songs like “The Miracle”, and “Scandal” along with their personal music videos. 

After the release of The Miracle came even further speculations regarding Mercury’s medical condition and health concerns due to the singer’s appearance in both music videos at the time as well as public appearances. It wasn’t until 1991 when Queen would release their fourteenth and final album at the time of Mercury living, “Innuendo”. At this point it was pretty much all but confirmed by Freddie himself that the singer was in critical condition physically, which was not thought to be because of the AIDS virus at the time. Despite this Mercury continued to push out the final songs on this album, most of which all reference his worsening condition and mindset because of the physical pain he felt alongside the constant poparazzi questioning around the time. While he was frail and his voice became higher-pitched from his health and the lack of smoking Mercury was doing at this time, he had enough energy to continue to push out a few more music videos for this album, these three would consist of “Headlong”, “I’m Going Slightly Mad”, and “The Show Must Go On”. The first two songs were recorded using original footage of Mercury while the final song, The Show Must Go On was recorded using older video and live footage because of Freddies worsening condition around the time of production for the song. This would be the last song that Queen produced while Freddie Mercury was alive, which Queen did not even believe would be possible to produce at the time as Mercury’s doctors had urged him to not sing the song because of the risk that it could only worsen his condition. However, Mercury ignored the doctors words and allegedly stood up from the wheelchair he was bound to at the time, downed a bottle of Vodka, and recorded the song in one take. Not just this song, but this entire album stand as a show of how powerful and determined of a singer Mercury was, in so much pain but still recording music videos out of love for his fans and his overall love for singing in general. If you had the time to listen to this album I would completely recommend it, as all of the song’s lyrics take on a much bigger meaning once you know that Mercury was dying and in constant pain, but still continued to sing about it and make a farewell to his fans in the form of this album. 

While Queen did continue to produce one more album after “Innuendo”, known as “Made In Heaven” which used post-Innuendo vocals from Mercury while he was in-between a wheelchair and bound to his bed in Switzerland, Mercury was no longer alive at the time this album was produced in 1995 to hear any of the music that was used besides anything unreleased in years before that was before 1991. Freddie Mercury died November 24th, 1991 due to AIDS related pneumonia, but his music, and his legacy still continue to live on with him long after his death with the most recent notable creation being the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which gave viewers a glimpse into Mercury’s life up until 1985, but did not cover any of his battle with AIDS as that began after the events of the movie. If you enjoyed that movie I would recommend you to listen to both “The Miracle” and “Innuendo” in order to fully understand just how powerful this man was in order to be able to sing and perform the way he did at this time. It is truly indescribable just from this article alone.