Thursday, March 13, 2014

Queen, "The Invisible Man"

Somehow I missed the Ralph Ellison birth centennial at the start of this month, now being celebrated in New York with an exhibit of his personal record collection at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Ellison's jazz affinity runs deep enough to fill at least one book (Living with Music) and more scholarly essays than anyone can count, but the only song I could think of when my 11th grade English teacher assigned him was by Queen.

Queen's 80s work is underrated. Sure, the albums were spotty, but they always were (listen to A Night at the Opera lately?), and Queen's Broadway-rock singles adapted to those heinous 80s rock production trends better than, say, Black Sabbath or KISS. While the music video is hopelessly stuck in the 80s, complete with the band cast as video game characters, the song itself sounds surprisingly industrial for a group of middle-aged guys in 1989, dreaming up EDM while Avicii was still in a womb. If the Freddie Mercury's verses and Brian May's main progression sound familiar, it's because they're ripped from "Ghostbusters" and "Undercover of the Night," respectively. But the kids can't tell. He's the Invisible Man.

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