Path: Queen - Royal Legend - Albums: A Kind Of Magic

Albums: A Kind Of Magic

Russell Mulcahy (director of promo clips in that time) asked Queen about making music for his movie. Queen accepted and promised to write at least two songs, if one of them will appear as a main theme.
Mulcahy: "When I was shooting the film, I thought about only one band - Queen. Their music was the best for the film: they have got big sense of visuality. They write strong, anthemic songs and the movie needs their energy. I've always been their fan and I wanted to work with them."

So they quickly finished recording of 'One Vision' (idea had came from address of M.L.King 'I have a dream'), which has to be released as a single and which has nothing to do with the movie. After it was released, everybody has associated the song with Live Aid show.

Finally, Queen decided to record music for whole movie and later release all track on CD. Mulcahy has to show them unfinished parts of the film, so as they could hear the dialogues.
When Brian saw one episode, he wrote 'Who Wants To Live Forever' on his way home - he sung it on hand recorder tape and returned home with almost finished song.

Roger named his song 'A Kind Of Magic' - he had heard the quote from Christopher Lambert dialogue.

Queen about the record:
Roger
"'A Kind of Magic' was specifically written for Russ Mulcahy's film 'Highlander'. 'It's a kind of was a line of Christopher Lambert's that I took from that film."
"I think the next album will be more era unit. We're developing a tremendously powerful style - in rehearsal anyway - of playing together. I think it'll he more intense."

Brian
"We saw, I think, 20 minutes of the "Highlander" film before it was finished, and we all went out going "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear this, I can hear this", and we all had songs in our heads from that point. I wrote the love song that I wrote for the movie in the car coming home from that first showing, because I was so inspired, so ignited by what I saw. So it's easy. The first stage is great, because you have all your ideas from outside. The hard bit is when you have to fit the music in detail to the action. You come against all sorts of problems, and things you think might work don't work. Very often things which you would almost throw away, you suddenly find work perfectly with a particular piece of the film. We spent, I s'pose, three or four months just working on particular passages in the film. The problem was compounded by the fact that they kept changing the film while we were doing it. So it's like trying to pin the tail on a moving donkey. But really there are these two stages. In the initial stage it's great because you get this inspiration from outside. No problem, you don't even feel responsible for what you're doing, it just flows out. Then the final bit is just sheer hard graft, getting that stuff done. It was a relief to get the stuff on that piece of celluloid, get it finished and done. That was about six weeks ago I guess. From that point on we said "OK, the films done, great, fine. Now we'll make an album." And that's what happened. We used some of the ideas from the film, and some other ideas which came from completely different places."
"Freddie's written a song called "Friends Will be Friends", and I think Freddie and John worked on it together. It's something which I took to heart very much as well because it's kind of traditional Queen sound. It has this... If you can remember "We are The Champions" or "Play The Game", it's in that kind of mould, it has all the Queen trademarks. And yet it's a new song and a new idea, and that's something I instantly related to. Very nice, very good track. It sounds very complete.
There's a song called "Pain Is So Close To Pleasure" which I started off, and I think again John and Freddie worked together on it. That's really sort of a motown sounding track, very unusual for us. "One Vision" is on there also, There's a track called "Don't Lose Your Head", which Roger wrote around one of the riffs which was used in the film. There's a song called "The Prize", and that is a song which is based around the Kurgan's theme, which... The Kurgan is the bad guy in the "Highlander" movie, and I wrote this piece for him, and then once the film was out of the way I was able to make it into a complete song.
Then there's "Princes Of The Universe", which is the title track of the movie, even though the movie isn't called that. Should've been actually [laughs]. I think it's a better title than "Highlander". A lot of people get the wrong idea from the title, they think it's just a film about Scot farmers or something. We told them that they should call it "The Immortals", because that's what it was about. It's about this group of immortals who are battling each other from the 15th century in Scotland up to 20th century New York when the film climaxes. It's a very good film by the way, I think. Very dramatic, very heavy and also has a very nice romantic subplot. There was a song which was written for that called "Who Wants To Live Forever." The hero of the movie discovers in his first battle that he can't die, and unfortunately he finds that he falls in love with this girl, and everybody tells him that it's a bad idea if they stay together because eventually she must grow old and die, and he won't. But nevertheless he does, he stays with her and she does grow old and she dies in his arms and she says "I never understood why you stayed with me" and he says "I see you just the same as I saw you when I first met you" and she's old and she's dying. I was very moved by that and I wrote this song called "Who Wants To Live Forever (When Love Must Die)." That's another part of the movie. Then there's a song called "One Year Of Love" which John wrote, and that was written around a different romantic interest. It's about the Highlander as he is in the 20th century when he's just about to fall in love again, even though he said he wouldn't - har har! That's a romantic song too."

Brian (about 'One Vision')
"We do a lot of stuff for charities, but 'One Vision' was a way if getting back to what we're doing. And if we didn't run ourselves as a business we wouldn't be around for the next Live Aid. We're not in the full-time business of charity at all. We're in the business of making music, which is a good enough end in itself."

Roger (about Highlander)
"There are a couple of strong moments. It's very good movie."
 

Reviews:
A Kind Of Magic
Kerrang: It is medley of music styles. Perhaps group in that standing as Queen could release so uncongenial album, with no fail with fans.
Record Mirror: Queen group works in music business long time, so there's no reason to get angry with one of their (missing) vision. One strong feeling, which they evocated to me is that Brian May has to get shear his hair.

Other versions:
Many songs were used in Highlander movie. Closing titles clame that there's soundtrack album available, but nothing were released.

One Vision
Single Version
Known from 'Greatest Hits II' and on 7". Outro is missing and intro is shorted.
Extended Vision
A 6:23 long mix with whole intro and outro, the drum part is extended. Released on 12" and as a bonus track on AKOM CD.
Classic Queen Version
On US CD 'Classic Queen'. Identical to the album version, without outro.
US Promo Edit
There is 7" US promo, which contains two different edits.
Out-Take
Called as 'Just For Fun Version', 'Censored Version' and 'Demo Version'. It's short one minute part of the song with different fun lyrics, which has been recorded from the movie about the group in the studio. The clip is to be found in many promo videos and TV documents.

Blurred Vision
Original B-side
B-side of the 'One Vision' single, 7" and 12". It's 4:45 long almost instrumental song with Roger's drums and 'One Vision' themes.

A Kind Of Magic
Extended Version
On 12", Box Of Tricks. 6:23 long version with added instrumental parts. First three and half minutes are identical and the rest is remaked. Second partis similar to the 'A Kind Of 'A Kind Of Magic'' - a bonus track from UK release.
US Hot Trax Version
A 7:33 long version on US DJ-only promo 12". It is a mix of the extended version.
UK Club Promo Mix
There is a UK promo 12" with sign "For Club Promotion Only". Rumours says that it's interesting mix of 'A Kind Of Magic' and 'A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling'.
Film Version
Main theme of the Highlander. Very different to the album version with extra guitars. Brian has described this as "the original version before Freddie locked himself away with it"

A Kind Of "A Kind Of Magic"
UK CD-only Bonus Track
Only on UK CD. Almost instrumental, similar to the second part of the 12" mix.

A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling
Original B-side
A 4:45 long B-side of the 'A Kind Of Magic' single. It is known as instrumental version of 'Don't Lose Your Head'. It is Roger's instrumental work. Also used in the film Highlander.
Extended Version
Only on 12", features some extra drums at the beginning before going into the normal version.

One Year Of Love
Piano Version
With dialogues from the Highlander movie.

Pain Is So Close To Pleasure
Single Version
Remixed for 7" adn 12" single release, originally for US, but later even in Europe. A 4 minutes long remix with different beginning and ending (and with some changes in whole song).
Extended Version
Only on 12" and on Box Of Tricks CD. A 6 minutes long version contains extended intro.

Friends Will Be Friends
Extended Version
Only on 12". A 6:19 long version with long intro and outro.
Video Version
It is a version from the clip, where the audience sing at the end.

Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends
UK CD-only Bonus Track
On UK release. A 5:45 version, rather extended edit than bonus track.

Who Wants To Live Forever
Greatest Hits II Version
On 'Greatest Hits II' is this edited and 4:57 long version.
Single Version
A 4 minutes long edit. Last two instrumental minutes are missing as well as "Who waits forever anyway?". Instead of this there are "Who wants to live forever, Who wants to live forever, Forever is our today". This version is also used for clip on 'Greatest Flix II'.
Film Version
Probably completed song, first verse is sung by Freddie, instead of Brian. The dialogues could be heard.
Demo Version, Vocal By Brian's Daughter
Bonus track on 12" single Ian and Belinda.
Demo Version
Is said that it has been found in trash. A 5:57 long piano version.

Forever
CD-only Bonus Track
Also known as Piano Version. On UK and US release, also on 12" single. It is a 3:20 long instrumental version.

Princes Of The Universe
Film Version
First minutes of the Highlander. Different to the album version, features extended instrumental part in the middle.
TV Version
Used as a theme for Highlander TV series. Closing titles have 90 seconds version (it's an edit - first 90 seconds of the whole song). The song starts with spoken word followed with the same edit with additional samples from the film. There are two versions of this edit, each one for the each serie (with different samples).

New York, New York
Film Version
With voice of Kurgan. It's one minute song, definitely there's NO whole song recorded.

Don't Lose Your Head
TV Version
From the Highlander TV series, featured in the episode "Free Fall". It's used as the backing track for a fight scene.

My opinion:
7/10
Again one of the best records. It's music recorded for movie, but all songs are so pregnant. Who don't know hits like 'A Kind Of Magic', 'Friends Will Be Friends', or beautiful 'Who Wants To Live Forever'. But also dynamic 'Don't Lose Your Head' with great drums and hot 'Princes Of The Universe' are good to mention.