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A Kind Of Magic

A Kind Of Magic

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Album Details

A KIND OF MAGIC

By Greg Brooks and Gary Taylor

Queen’s twelfth studio album was recorded between September 1985 and April 1986, at three different studios: Town House (London), Musicland (Munich, Germany) and Mountain Studios (Montreux, Switzerland). The project began life as the soundtrack to the motion picture Highlander, after director Russell Mulcahy had commissioned a handful of tracks from Queen. He regarded Queen as the ideal band for the task and would later comment that it was always Queen he had in mind because of their strong, anthemic songs. “The film needed their energy,” Mulcahy has said. The band were so impressed with the first 20 minutes rough footage they were shown to get a flavour of the production that further tracks soon followed and the Magic album was born.

Each Queen band member was inspired by different parts of the story and in evidence the album covers a wide spectrum of emotion. The songs are full of references to the film and dialogue and its main characters and events – There can be only one / No mortal man can win this day / The prize / It’s a kind of magic / Don’t lose your head, as examples. Brian May, was greatly moved by the death of Heather in the film (the main character’s first and greatest love) and with the dialogue surrounding her final moments as she lays dying in the arms of her beloved MacLeod – the immortal Highlander – on the spectacular Scottish highland. MacLeod is destined to live forever, to be without Heather for the rest of his time, and suddenly his destiny seems impossible to face. Who Wants To Live Forever is the song that emerged from this poignant moment of the movie, written almost fully by Brian, he later recalled, on the drive home after viewing the first assembly footage.

Roger Taylor, meanwhile, was taken by the lines “There can be only one” and “It’s a kind of magic”, and this gave rise to his song of similar name. The battles in Highlander have been raging through many centuries and are only now, the nineteen eighties, coming to a head. This aspect too is covered in the song.

The main characters of the film, most notably Connor MacLeod, The Highlander, and his nemesis The Kurgan, and others, are doing battle, fighting to the death, in order to secure the ultimate reward, the greatest prize of all. Around this concept Brian conceived his song Gimme The Prize. There is only one way to win the prize, however, and that is to be the last man standing, and this is achieved only by the grim process of beheading all opponents – remember, There can be only one!! Roger’s song Don’t Lose Your Head (featuring incidental vocals from English vocalist Joan Armatrading) emerges from this idea, and this is a re-occuring theme as the film builds and as each warrior inevitably meets his gruesome fate, until only two are left.

Freddie’s anthemic Princes Of The Universe (the original title of the film) is a typical no-nonsense, uncompromising piece which, when issued as a single in 1986 required an equally impressive and powerful video. What followed was a startling screen duel between actor Christopher Lambert recreating his Highlander role, with his head-slaying sword from the film, and Freddie, armed only with his faithful microphone stand, in which, thankfully, neither loses his head. The two do battle amid a scene of devastation while Brian, Roger and John play on regardless. It is breathtaking footage, with Freddie looking even more menacing than the sword-wielding Highlander.

World renowned composer, the late Michael Kamen, provided the score for most of the incidental music throughout the film, and the rare combination of his original music and dynamic Queen songs from all four band members, proved a formidable alliance.

 The album A Kind Of Magic was released on June 2nd 1986 and entered the UK charts at No 1. It achieved double platinum status at home and abroad and it topped the charts in many other territories. It reached a disappointing number 46 in the USA.

Certain tracks on the Magic album are significantly different to those featured in the film, most notably the title track, because the band reworked the material after the Highlander post-production was completed.

Even though it appeared six months ahead of the LP, in November 1985, One Vision (coupled with the non-album instrumental piece Blurred Vision) was the first single issued from the Magic album. Produced by Queen and (Rheinhold) Mack and recorded at Munich’s Musicland Studios, it was notably the first Queen single written jointly by the band. Inspired by Queen’s experiences of Live Aid several months earlier, (July 13,1985) and to prove historically their greatest concert triumph ever, Queen returned to the studio with renewed vigour to come up with this much loved track. The artwork for the single features a portrait taken by famous photographer David Bailey backstage at Live Aid. The video was filmed in September 1985 at Musicland studios while the band were working on the album there. Shot over a period of weeks, the video offers a rare insight into Queen at work in the studio,and also in down-time. The video marked the start of a long-standing relationship with the Austrian director partnership of Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher – the notorious Torpedo Twins – that would last until the final Queen video shoot with Freddie in 1991. One Vision was also featured in the motion picture Iron Eagle.

A Kind Of Magic, coupled with the non-album A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling, both penned by Roger, was the second single from the album. Produced by Queen and David Richards and released in the UK on March 17th 1986, the song became a huge hit around the world and was No.1 in more than 30 countries. In the US the B-side was instead Brian’s manic Gimme The Prize. The video, shot by Highlander director Russell Malcahy, was filmed inside the Playhouse Theatre in London under near-freezing conditions. Freddie played the part of an impeccably attired caped Magician, while John, Roger and Brian instead appeared as vagrants – before being transformed by the magical stranger. The video featured for the time some rather advanced animation in which various characters depicted throughout the Magic album’s artwork are brought to life.

Though not released in the UK or Europe, Princes Of The Universe (also produced by Queen and Mack) was the third single to be lifted from Magic. While the album’s title track was becoming a massive hit everywhere else, Capitol Records in America instead issued Freddie’s larger than life Princes battle tale. Coupled with the same B-side as the other single of the time, A Dozen Red Roses, Princes made little impact on the charts. In October of 1986 Toshiba/EMI Japan issued Princes as a single, this time paired with Who Wants To Live Forever, but it too fared less well than other singles from the album.

Written by John and Freddie, produced by Queen & Mack, and recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Friends Will Be Friends was the fourth single from Magic and emerged in the UK on June 9th 1986 to coincide with the beginning of the three month Magic tour. Again coupled with an old favourite – this time Seven Seas Of Rhye from 1974 (Queen’s first ever hit) – this pairing performed considerably better than its American/Japanese predecessor, peaking at No 14 in the UK and becoming a top 40 hit in other European territories. Curiously, it was never issued in America, Canada or Japan. The accompanying video was filmed at Stone Bridge Studios in Wembley, London, in May 1986, again by Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher, and is memorable not least because 850 fans from Queen’s long established UK-based fan club were in attendance to lend their support.

The Deacon/Mercury co-write of Pain Is So Close To Pleasure (c/w Don’t Lose Your Head) followed next, and like Princes Of The Universe was never issued as a single in the UK, nor in Japan, unusually. Capitol in the USA issued the single in August 1986, in abridged remix form. But without much in the way of promotion, or even an accompanying video, the song made little impression. Produced by Queen and Mack, Pain Is So Close To Pleasure is a favourite among Queen fans, especially the six minute extended version, but perhaps due to its uncharacteristic dance tempo and rhythm, it was never performed in any Queen live show.

Brian’s tender Who Wants To Live Forever came next; the fourth and final UK single from A Kind Of Magic. Released in the UK on September 15th 1986, and paired with Freddie’s Killer Queen from 12 years earlier, the single became a European hit. Another, Queen and David Richards production, and featuring lush orchestral arrangements by Michael Kamen, this song has become a classic of Queen’s catalogue. It has been much-covered by other artists, among them, Jennifer Rush, Seal and Shirley Bassey. The song was a staple in the concerts of the last tour. The video was directed by David Mallet and was filmed in a warehouse in London’s East End. One of Queen’s most memorable films, the video features, among other things, the National Philharmonic Orchestra, 40 choirboys and several hundred altar candles to set the mood.

The last single from A Kind Of Magic, is the rather lovely John Deacon ballad, One Year Of Love. Again produced by Queen and trusted collaborator Mack, the track was only ever issued in France and Spain, coupled with the somewhat contrasting Gimme The Prize (the theme of the dreaded Kurgan in Highlander). Steve Gregory plays saxophone on the track and it is surely among the most under rated and little known of Queen gems.

Did You Know?

1. Queen were approached by Russell Mulcahy to write songs for his feature film "Highlander" the songs were featured on this album

2. Promoted by a hugely successful tour of Europe which culminated at Knebworth Park with the UK's largest paying audience

3. "A Kind Of Magic" featured Joan Amatrading on backing vocals on the track"Don't Lose Your Head"

4. The National Philharmonic Orchestra play on the Brian May written track "Who Wants To Live Forever"

5. The CD version of "A Kind Of Magic" features three extra tracks compared to vinyl version which just had the standard nine tracks

Track Listing

Single

Friends Will Be Friends

Third single from the album A Kind of Magic
Single

One Vision

First single from the album A Kind of Magic
Single

Pain Is So Close To Pleasure

Fourth single from the album A Kind of Magic A remix of Pain Is So Close To Pleasure was released as a US only single and featured Don't Lose Your Head as the b-side.
Single

Who Wants To Live Forever

Fifth single on the album A Kind of Magic

Lyrics

1. One Vision

God works in mysterious ways Hey, one man, one goal, ha, one mission One heart, one soul, just one solution One flash of light, yeah, one God, one vision One flesh, one bone, one true religion One voice, one hope, one real decision Wo wo wo wo wo wo - gimme one vision - hey No wrong, no right I'm gonna tell you there's no black and no white No blood, no stain All we need is one world wide vision One flesh, one bone, one true religion One race, one hope, one real decision Wo wo wo wo wo woh yeah oh yeah oh yeah I had a dream when I was young - a dream of sweet illusion A glimpse of hope and unity and visions of one sweet union But a cold wind blows and a dark rain falls And in my heart it shows Look what they've done to my dream - yeah One vision So give me your hands, give me your hearts, I'm ready There's only one direction One world and one nation, yeah one vision No hate, no fight, just excitation All through the night, it's a celebration Wo wo wo wo wo wo yeah One one one one one one one One vision hey one vision one vision one vision one vision One flesh, one bone, one true religion One voice, one hope, one real decision Gimme one light, yeah, gimme one hope Hey, just gimme, ha, one man, one man One bar, one night, one day, hey hey Just gimme gimme gimme gimme Fried chicken - vision vision vision vision vision God works in mysterious ways

2. A Kind Of Magic

It's a kind of magic, it's a kind of magic A kind of magic no way One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal One golden glance of what should be - it's a kind of magic One shaft of light that shows the way No mortal man can win this day - it's a kind of magic The bell that rings inside your mind Is challenging the doors of time - it's a kind of magic The waiting seems eternity, the day will dawn of sanity Is this a kind of magic - it's a kind of magic There can be only one This rage that lasts a thousand years, will soon be done This flame that burns inside of me I'm hearing secret harmonies - it's a kind of magic The bell that rings inside your mind Is challenging the doors of time - it's a kind of magic It's a kind of magic This rage that lasts a thousand years Will soon be, will soon be, will soon be done This is (this is) a kind (a kind) of magic (yeah) There can be only one one one one This rage that lasts a thousand years Will soon be done done Magic it's a kind of magic It's a kind of magic Magic magic magic (magic) Ha ha ha haa it's magic Ha haa - yeah yeah - wooh It's a kind of magic

3. One Year Of Love

Just one year of love is better than a lifetime alone One sentimental moment in your arms Is like a shooting star right through my heart It's always a rainy day without you I'm a prisoner of love inside you I'm falling apart all around you yeah My heart cries out to your heart I'm lonely but you can save me My hand reaches out for your hand I'm cold but you light the fire in me My lips search for your lips I'm hungry for your touch There's so much left unspoken And all I can do is surrender To the moment just surrender No one ever told me that love would hurt so much (Ooh yes it hurts) And pain is so close to pleasure And all I can do is surrender to your love Ooh, just surrender to your love Just one year of love is better than a lifetime alone One sentimental moment in your arms Is like a shooting star right through my heart It's always a rainy day without you I'm a prisoner of love inside you I'm falling apart all around you And all I can do is surrender

4. Pain Is So Close To Pleasure

Ooh ooh, pain is so close to pleasure - oh yeah Sunshine and rainy weather go hand in hand together All your life Ooh, ooh, pain is so close to pleasure everybody knows One day we love each other then we're fighting one another All the time When I was young and just getting started And people talked to me, they sounded broken hearted Then I grew up and got my imagination And all I wanted was to start a new relation So in love, but love had a bad reaction I was looking for some good old satisfaction But pain is all I got When all I needed was some love and affection Ooh ooh, pain is so close to pleasure - yeah yeah Sunshine and rainy weather go hand in hand together All your life Pain and pleasure Ooh ooh, pain and pleasure When your plans go wrong you turn out the light But inside of your mind you put up a fight Where are the answers that we're all searching for There's nothing in this world to be sure of anymore Some days you're feeling good, some days you're feeling bad But if you're feeling happy someone else is always sad Let the sweetness on love wipe the tears from your face For better for worse So let's make the best of the rest of our years Ooh ooh, pain is so close to pleasure, I told you so Sunshine and rainy weather go hand in hand together All your life Pain and pleasure, ooh, ooh Pain is so close to pleasure, yeah, yeah Sunshine and rainy weather go hand in hand together All your life, all your life, ooh ooh ooh Pain, pleasure, pain, pleasure Pain, pleasure, pain, pleasure

5. Friends Will Be Friends

Another red letter day So the pound has dropped and the children are creating The other half ran away Taking all the cash and leaving you with the lumber Got a pain in the chest - Doctors on strike What you need is a rest It's not easy love, but you've got friends you can trust Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand, coz friends will be friends Right till the end Now it's a beautiful day The postman delivered a letter from your lover Only a phone call away You tried to track him down but somebody stole his number As a matter of fact, you're getting used to life Without him in your way It's so easy now, coz you got friends you can trust Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand coz friends will be friends Right till the end It's so easy now, coz you got friends you can trust Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand friends will be friends Right till the end Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand coz right till the end Friends will be friends - yeah yeah

6. Who Wants To Live Forever

There's no time for us, there's no place for us What is this thing that builds our dreams, yet slips away from us Who wants to live forever, who wants to live forever - oh ooo oh There's no chance for us, it's all decided for us This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us Who wants to live forever, who wants to live forever - ooh Who dares to love forever, oh oo woh, when love must die But touch my tears with your lips Touch my world with your fingertips And we can have forever, and we can love forever Forever is our today Who wants to live forever, who wants to live forever Forever is our today Who waits forever anyway

7. Gimme The Prize (Kurgan's Theme)

"....in the garage a quarter from the first block. He also left a man's decapitated body lying on the floor next to his own severed head. The head at this time has no name..." "I know his name" Here I am, I'm the master of your destiny, ha haa I am the one, the only one, I am the God of kingdom come Gimme the prize, just gimme the prize Give me your kings, let me squeeze them in my hands - hey hey hey Your puny princes, your so called leaders of your land I'll eat them whole before I'm done The battle's fought and the game is won I am the one, the only one, I am the God of kingdom come Gimme the prize, just gimme the prize the prize Ha ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha Now you die - ha ha ha ha ha ha I have something to say It's better to burn out than to fade away - heeargh There can be only one - eeaaoooor Move over, I said move over - hey, hey Hey clear the way, there's no escape from my authority I tell you I am the one, the only one, I am the God of kingdom come Gimme the prize the prize Just gimme the prize the prize I am the one, the only one, I am the God of kingdom come Just gimme the prize There can be only one heeaarghh - hah

8. Don't Lose Your Head

Don't lose your head, don't lose your head Don't lose your head (don't lose your head) No don't lose your head (don't lose your head) Hear what I say, don't lose your way yeah Remember love's stronger, remember love walks tall (Don't lose your head, don't lose your head) Don't lose your heart (don't lose your heart) No don't lose your heart (don't lose your heart) (Hear what I say) hear what I say yeah (Don't lose your way) don't lose your way yeah Remember love's stronger, remember love walks through walls Don't drink and drive my car, don't get breathalysed Don't lose your head If you make it to the top and you wanna stay alive Don't lose your head - oooh (don't lose your head) Don't lose your head (don't lose your head) No don't lose your head (don't lose your head) (Hear what I say) hear what I say yeah (Don't lose your way hey) don't lose your way yeah Remember love's stronger, remember love conquers all (Don't lose your head, don't lose your head) (Don't lose your head, don't lose your head) Don't lose your head (don't lose your head) Don't lose your head yeah yeah (don't lose your head) Don't lose your head (don't lose your head) (Don't lose your head) don't lose your head (Don't lose your - don't lose your - don't lose your) (Don't lose your - don't lose your - don't lose your) (Don't lose your - don't lose your head)

9. Princes Of The Universe

Here we are, born to be kings We're the princes of the universe Here we belong, fighting to survive In a world with the darkest powers - heh And here we are, we're the princes of the universe Here we belong, fighting for survival We've come to be the rulers of your world I am immortal, I have inside me blood of kings yeah yeah I have no rival, no man can be my equal Take me to the future of your world Born to be kings, princes of the universe Fighting and free, got your world in my hand I'm here for your love and I'll make my stand We were born to be princes of the universe No man could understand, my power is in my own hand Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, people talk about you People say you've had your day I'm a man that will go far Fly the moon and reach for the stars With my sword and head held high Got to pass the test first time yeah I know that people talk about me, I hear it every day But I can prove them wrong, coz I'm right first time Yeah, yeah, alright, let's go, let's go, ha haa Yeah, watch this man fly, wooh Bring on the girls c'mon c'mon c'mon Here we are here we are - born to be kings We're the princes of the universe Here we belong, born to be kings Princes of the universe Fighting and free, got your world in my hand I'm here for your love and I'll make my stand We were born to be princes of the universe Of the universe of the universe Of the universe of the universe

10. A Kind Of ' A Kind Of Magic'

It's a kind of magic, it's a kind of magic A kind of magic no way One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal One golden glance of what should be - it's a kind of magic One shaft of light that shows the way No mortal man can win this day - it's a kind of magic The bell that rings inside your mind Is challenging the doors of time - it's a kind of magic The waiting seems eternity, the day will dawn of sanity Is this a kind of magic - it's a kind of magic There can be only one This rage that lasts a thousand years, will soon be done This flame that burns inside of me I'm hearing secret harmonies - it's a kind of magic The bell that rings inside your mind Is challenging the doors of time - it's a kind of magic It's a kind of magic This rage that lasts a thousand years Will soon be, will soon be, will soon be done This is (this is) a kind (a kind) of magic (yeah) There can be only one one one one This rage that lasts a thousand years Will soon be done done Magic it's a kind of magic It's a kind of magic Magic magic magic (magic) Ha ha ha haa it's magic Ha haa - yeah yeah - wooh It's a kind of magic

11. Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends…

Another red letter day So the pound has dropped and the children are creating The other half ran away Taking all the cash and leaving you with the lumber Got a pain in the chest - Doctors on strike What you need is a rest It's not easy love, but you've got friends you can trust Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand, coz friends will be friends Right till the end Now it's a beautiful day The postman delivered a letter from your lover Only a phone call away You tried to track him down but somebody stole his number As a matter of fact, you're getting used to life Without him in your way It's so easy now, coz you got friends you can trust Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand coz friends will be friends Right till the end It's so easy now, coz you got friends you can trust Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand friends will be friends Right till the end Friends will be friends When you're in need of love they give you care and attention Friends will be friends When you're through with life and all hope is lost Hold out your hand coz right till the end Friends will be friends - yeah yeah

12. Forever

Instrumental

3 Comments

A Kind Of Magic

Cynthia Claus

I listen to this album everyday and am in need of a new copy, A Kind of Magic. Is it available for purchase? I grew up loving Queen.

Donna Mc Kinney

I want to thank you so much for such a magical magestic music perfection! You have warmed and touched my heart forever! Thank you for this gift given from your heart to ours! My favorite song of all time is Who wants to live forever from the best album ever A KIND OF MAGIC!

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