Mention the band Queen and the first thing that comes to mind for me is the gay camp rock theatrics of its lead vocalist Freddie Mercury. Their odd style rooted somehow in freakshow meets the opera was not something duplicated often in rock. At time it could be a bit too much for me which was why I was just a casual fan at best. Then on their 8th album I took notice as did many people who might have had no ideal of who Queen was.
Very few rock bands have managed to do what Queen did in 1981 with The Game. The album had hits on the rock, pop and R&B charts. “Another One Bites the Dust” was the single biggest hit ever for Queen. It’s simple, yet muscular bass line and hard driving rhythm appealed to both the rock and the roll parts with a bass line and rhythm that Bernard Edwards would have been proud of.
The albums other big hit, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” cashed in on the fading ’50s rock revival of the early ’80s with the flamboyant Freddie Mercury doing his best Elvis impression. The Game was Queen beginning to breakout beyond the confines of rock as they began making concessions to current trends. There was few if any of the of rock opera inspired songs like “Bicycle Race” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” on The Game.
The songs like the opener “Play The Game” and “Coming Home” had some of the trademark over the top rock opera style of the past. Overall The Game was the beginning of a upward trajectory for Queen that would see them solidify and expand their camp street cred thanks to the Flash Gordon soundtrack which they scored after this album.
The broader exposure and success would be capped by the release of Hot Space in 1982. That album’s crowning achievement was the David Bowie collaboration “Under Pressure”, one of the best songs of that year. Queen would loose much of the crazy over the top song writing Freddy Mercury was known for in time, but The Game marked the point where the band combined contemporary trends with their classic style. In doing so they managed to be the source of some of the most surprising funk ever to make it to the R&B charts.