Innuendo is a 1991 album by English rock band Queen. It is the band's fourteenth studio album and the last to be composed entirely of new material. It is also the final studio album to be released while lead singer Freddie Mercury was still alive. The album was praised by critics and fans as one of the strongest albums of Queen's later career. It reached number one on the UK album charts (2 weeks) as well as in the Netherlands (4 weeks), in Switzerland (8 weeks), Germany (6 weeks), and Italy (3 weeks). The album was released in the United States one day after it was released in Britain. The album would be the first Queen album to go Gold in the US upon its release since The Works in 1984. It peaked at number thirty in the United States.
The album was recorded when Mercury was progressing into the final stages of his HIV/AIDS infection. Much of the material on the album deals with the band's coming to terms with his imminent death. The theme is also reflected in the music, which can be heavy and arresting ("Innuendo" and "Headlong"), but also bleak and dark ("The Show Must Go On","These Are The Days Of Our Lives","I'm Going Slightly Mad" and "Don't Try So Hard"), and very often both ("The Hitman" and "Bijou").
The album cover was designed by Queen and Richard Gray. The booklets and single covers from the album are by Grandville, or are inspired by his illustrations.
"Innuendo" (Queen) – 6:29
"I'm Going Slightly Mad" (Queen) – 4:04
"Headlong" (Queen) – 4:31
"I Can't Live with You" (Queen) – 4:04
"Ride the Wild Wind" (Queen) – 4:41
"All God's People" (Queen / Mike Moran) – 3:53
"These Are the Days of Our Lives" (Queen) – 3:55
"Delilah" (Queen) – 3:32
"Don't Try So Hard" (Queen) – 3:32
"The Hitman" (Queen) – 3:43
"Bijou" (Queen) – 1:19
"The Show Must Go On" (Queen) – 4:24
"Innuendo" (Queen) – 6:29
"I'm Going Slightly Mad" (Queen) – 4:22
"Headlong" (Queen) – 4:39
"I Can't Live with You" (Queen) – 4:35
"Don't Try So Hard" (Queen) – 3:39
"Ride the Wild Wind" (Queen) – 4:41
"All God's People" (Queen / Mike Moran) – 4:19
"These Are the Days of Our Lives" (Queen) – 4:12
"Delilah" (Queen) – 3:32
"The Hitman" (Queen) – 4:52
"Bijou" (Queen) – 3:36
"The Show Must Go On" (Queen) – 4:24
Main article: Innuendo (song)
"Innuendo" began as a jam session in Switzerland amongst May, Taylor and Deacon in spring 1989. Mercury was upstairs and heard them playing the beat, and turned it into a song, creating the melody and starting off the lyrics. From then on they all four worked on polishing the track and Taylor took over the lyrics (which were written as a tribute to Led Zeppelin and their song "Kashmir"). The middle section, written by Mercury, was included later and it featured a synth-orchestra programmed by producer David Richards and a flamenco interlude played by Yes guitarist Steve Howe, who had come to visit them and was asked to play what Brian May himself admitted he couldn't. Like "Kashmir", the title of the song is only mentioned once.
"Innuendo" was released as a single in January 1991.
I'm Going Slightly Mad
Main article: I'm Going Slightly Mad
"I'm Going Slightly Mad" was begun in Mercury's London house, after he'd got the idea of writing a song about madness, inspired by Noel Coward's camp one-liners. Most of the lyrics (like "banana tree" or "one needle") came from both him and his friend Peter Straker, who stayed up all night in Mercury's kitchen, devising ever more outlandish lines. The music is Mercury's as well and it's one of the earliest songs they were working on in Montreux when Steve Howe came in. The video that accompanied the song saw Mercury dressed in a costume suit with wild hair, white gloves, long pointing shoes and extremely heavy make up, also filmed in black and white. Whilst Queen fans were thoroughly amused by the band in the video, in the documentary, "Champions of the World," Taylor confessed, from the band's perspective, the video was marred by Mercury's appearance having to be camouflaged by costume and make-up, as Taylor admitted Mercury looked "Pretty ill, at that point." Actress Cleo Rocos stated that Mercury had explained to her and mutual friend Kenny Everett that the song touches on the AIDS induced dementia he incurred during the final years of his life.
Main article: Headlong (song)
"Headlong" came from May at the studio they'd got in Switzerland. He recorded it for the solo album he was doing at the same time. Once, May heard Mercury singing it, and instantly decided that it worked better as a Queen track. Then the band took it over and they all made modifications.
I Can't Live with You
"I Can't Live with You" was also written for May's solo album. He gave it to the band as well since Taylor, Deacon and Mercury were fond of the track. Drums were programmed on synth by May, and the keyboard-pads were added by the producer. An alternative version of this song appeared on the 1997 compilation album Queen Rocks, billed as the "'97 Rocks Retake". it was said to be more along the lines of how May and Taylor originally wanted the track to sound, with a harder, guitar-driven rock edge.
Don't Try So Hard
"Don't Try So Hard" came from Mercury. The intro "rain" is actually the pre-set sound of the Korg M1, which appears when it's switched on. Mercury sings most of the song in falsetto. The song's middle section is written in a style reminiscent of Queen's early 1980s-songs such as Play The Game.
Ride the Wild Wind
"Ride The Wild Wind" was composed by Taylor, who recorded a demo with his own vocals. The definitive version is sung by Mercury with Taylor on backing vocals. The song is a sort of sequel of Roger's "A Night at the Opera" composition, "I'm In Love With My Car", focused on Taylor's passion for cars and race. This time, the song involved all of the other members, that gave life to a fast song with beating drums and rhythmic bass line, which create the sensation of speed and engine's roar. In the mid-part, a brilliant May's solo, which accentuate the sense of high velocity, and also give the song a heavier sound. In some parts a racing car can be heard.
All God's People
"All God's People" started off as part of Mercury's Barcelona project under the title "Africa by Night" (hence the co-writing credit with Mike Moran). He'd asked May to play guitar, then one thing led to another and the entire band played. Piano was recorded by Mike Moran. The song features Mercury singing a head-voiced high-F note, as well as some very low ones.
These Are the Days of Our Lives
Main article: These Are the Days of Our Lives
"These Are the Days of Our Lives" was written by Roger Taylor. It's harmonically and structurally one of the simplest songs of the band's catalogue. Keyboards were programmed by the four of them in the studio, and conga percussion was recorded by David Richards. The music video for this song was Mercury's last appearance in a video medium. By the time the video was made, it had become impossible to disguise that Freddie was seriously ill. Despite his frail appearance, he appeared and gave what energy he had left, filmed in black and white. The black and white in the video helped somewhat to reduce the ill/frail appearance. When footage of the band making the video was released in colour, it is clear to see why.
"Delilah" is a song Mercury penned for his favourite housecat, a female tortoiseshell cat, named Delilah. May recorded his solo using a talk box.
"The Hitman" was written by Mercury as well. The original version was apparently on keyboards and in a different key. May took Mercury's riff (not un-common), changed the key and recorded a demo of the heavy version. Deacon then re-arranged the structure and they all filled the gaps in lyrics and recorded it. All of the backing vocals were done by May.
"Bijou" was an idea Mercury and May had of making a song "inside-out" (having guitar doing the verses and the vocal doing the break). Mercury put the chords, title and lyrics, and the two of them worked on the guitar parts. Mercury sang the first line and then May transferred the melody to his Red Special. The song was finished without any input from Taylor or Deacon. The idea was not new and already used by Yes on their song "Soon". Brian later credited Jeff Beck's 1989 song "Where Were You" as the inspiration 'Bijou'. In 2008, Queen + Paul Rodgers performed this song in their shows of the Rock the Cosmos Tour.
The Show Must Go On
Main article: The Show Must Go On (Queen song)
"The Show Must Go On" was written by May & Mercury. The song was a lively dramatic cross between Opera and Rock. The initial idea was a chord sequence Taylor and Deacon were working on. Then May decided to use the sequence, and both he and Mercury decided the theme of the lyrics and wrote the first verse together. From then on May finished the lyrics, did the vocal melody and wrote the bridge, inspired by Pachelbel's Canon. Some keys and ideas were suggested by the producer too.
The song was initially not released as a single as part of promotion for the innuendo album, but was released in October 1991 as the band launched their 2nd Greatest Hits album. The video for the song featured a compilation of clips from all their videos since 1982, in support of the Greatest Hits 2 album. Due to Mercury's now critically fast fading health, a fresh appearance by the band in a video was not possible.
A live version featuring Elton John on vocals appeared on the Greatest Hits III album. Elton stated at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert that the song was a personal favourite of his.
Freddie Mercury: Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Piano, Synthesisers, Programming
Brian May: Electric Guitars, Backing Vocals, Synthesisers, Programming
Roger Taylor: Drums & Percussion, Backing Vocals, Synthesisers, Programming
John Deacon: Bass, Synthesisers, Programming, Backing Vocals
Steve Howe: Classical-Electric Guitar ("Innuendo") (Credited as "Wandering Minstrel")
Mike Moran: Piano, Synthesisers, Programming ("All God's People")
David Richards: Producing, Engineering, Synthesisers, Programming
Brian Zellis: Programming
Noel Harris: Assistant engineer
Justin Shirley-Smith: Assistant engineer
Richard Gray: Sleeve design
Grandville (1803-1847): Illustrations
Angela Lumley: Additional illustrations
Simon Fowler: Photography
Five singles were released from the album:
"Innuendo" was the lead single from the album in most countries save the United States where "Headlong" was released as the first single. It was released on 14 January 1991 in Europe and March 1991 in the United States as a promo single, becoming Queen's twelfth number-one single. The song also achieved modest success in the US, charting at seventeen on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Still, the length and style of the track limited its appeal, and it only spent a week at number one in the UK and quickly slid down the chart, spending only six weeks in the top seventy-five. (B-side on 7 inch release- "Bijou")
"I'm Going Slightly Mad" was released on 4 March 1991. It reached number twenty-two in the UK charts. (B-side on 7 inch release- "The Hitman" in some countries, in others it was "Lost Opportunity" which was a non album cut.)
"Headlong" was released in January 1991 in the US and on 13 May 1991 in the UK. It was one of the most successful songs from the album, and actually served as the lead single in the United States. It entered the UK charts at number fourteen, and reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. (B-side on 7 inch release- "All God's People" in some countries, in others, "Lost Opportunity" and in a few, "The Hitman")
"The Show Must Go On" was released on 14 October 1991 in the UK. The single was taken from the album, although it had not been released as a single from Innuendo, and released as promotion for the Greatest Hits II album, and peaked at number sixteen in the UK charts. After Mercury's death in November, the song re-entered the British charts and spent longer in the top seventy-five than it had on its original release. This single was released just six weeks before Mercury died. In 1992, the song was released as a double A-side with "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the US and reached #2 in the US. (The original B-side in October 1991 was "Keep Yourself Alive".)
"These Are the Days of Our Lives" was first released in the USA on Freddie Mercury's birthday, 5 September 1991. In the UK it was released in December 1991 following Mercury's death, as a double A-side with "Bohemian Rhapsody". The single was the UK's Christmas number one of 1991.
"I Can't Live With You" was released as a promo single to radio stations in the USA. This 2-track promo single, completely remixed by Brian Malouf, uses slightly different lead vocal tracks by Freddie, louder and tighter harmony tracks, and re-programed synth drums, resulting in a much more punchy and "over the top" poppy version than included on the album. It reached #28 on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Country Charts Sales
Peak position Weeks Certification Sales
Finland 1 Platinum 50.000
Germany 1 Platinum 700.000
Ireland 1 Platinum 50.000
Italy 1 4xPlatinum 400.000
Netherlands 1 Platinum 150.000
Portugal 1 Gold 20.000
Singapore 1 3x Platinum 45.000
Switzerland 1 36 2x Platinum 100.000
United Kingdom 1 37 2x Platinum 600.000
Austria 2 20 Platinum 50.000
Australia 6 7 70.000
Norway 8 5
Spain 3 Platinum 140.000
Sweden 9 5 50.000
United States 30 Gold 900.000
Canada Gold 50.000
France Platinum 350.000
New Zealand 3xPlatinum 55.000
Spain 65 2