The Works (Queen album)

The Works (Queen album)
The Works
Studio album by Queen
Released 27 February 1984
Recorded August 1983 – January 1984 at The Record Plant, Los Angeles, California and Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany
Genre Rock
Length 37:11
Label EMI/Parlophone; Capitol, Hollywood Records (US)
Producer Queen and Mack
Queen chronology
Hot Space
The Works
A Kind of Magic
Singles from The Works
  1. "Radio Ga Ga"
    Released: 23 January 1984
  2. "I Want to Break Free"
    Released: 2 April 1984
  3. "It's a Hard Life"
    Released: 16 July 1984
  4. "Hammer to Fall"
    Released: 10 September 1984
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars [1]
People (favourable) [2]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [3]
Sounds 3/4 stars [4]

The Works is the eleventh studio album by British rock band Queen, released in February 1984. A partial return to their rock roots, although with a much lighter approach, the record has also the heaviest electronics amongst all group albums. In comparison, rock was mostly absent on their previous effort Hot Space, which gave room to dance and funk with the use of analogue synths and brass. Freddie Mercury praised the album saying it helped re-establish the band, especially in Europe. The Works is estimated to have sold 12 million copies worldwide.

Recorded at the Record Plant Studios and Musicland Studios from August 1983 to January 1984, the album's title comes from a comment drummer Roger Taylor made as recording began – "Let's give them the works!"



Following the release of and subsequent touring for their 1982 album Hot Space, the four members of Queen opted to take a break from the band the following year, indulging in solo projects and taking the chance to stretch in individual directions. While a spring tour of South America had been an early possibility, especially following the band's success there two years prior, equipment and promotional problems brought an end to these plans.[5] Brian May worked with Eddie Van Halen and others on the Star Fleet Project, while Freddie Mercury began work on his solo album. By August 1983, however, the band had reunited and began work on their eleventh studio album. It would be Queen's first album for EMI (and its United States affiliate Capitol Records) worldwide after the band nullified its recording deal with Elektra for the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.[5]

Recording commenced at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles – Queen's first time recording in America – and Musicland Studios in Munich. Also during this time, their manager Jim Beach offered them the opportunity to compose the soundtrack for the film The Hotel New Hampshire. The band agreed, but soon discovered much of their time was being spent on the soundtrack instead of the upcoming album, and the project fell through.[5] Only one song written for the soundtrack, "Keep Passing the Open Windows", made it onto The Works. By November 1983, Roger Taylor's "Radio Ga Ga" was chosen as the first single from the album. The Works was released on 27 February 1984.

Track listing

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Radio Ga Ga"   Roger Taylor 5:44
2. "Tear It Up"   Brian May 3:28
3. "It's a Hard Life"   Freddie Mercury 4:08
4. "Man on the Prowl"   Mercury 3:28
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "Machines (Or 'Back to Humans')"   May, Taylor 5:10
6. "I Want to Break Free"   John Deacon 3:20
7. "Keep Passing the Open Windows"   Mercury 5:21
8. "Hammer to Fall"   May 4:28
9. "Is This the World We Created...?"   Mercury, May 2:13
Bonus tracks (1991 Hollywood Records CD reissue)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
10. "I Go Crazy" (Original B-side) May 3:42
11. "Radio Ga Ga" (Extended version) Taylor 6:50
12. "I Want to Break Free" (Extended mix) Deacon 7:19

Song information

Radio Ga Ga

"Radio Ga Ga" was composed on keyboards, after Roger Taylor heard his son Felix (3 years old at the time) saying "radio ca ca".[5] He wrote it in Los Angeles and locked himself in the studio with a Roland Jupiter 8 and a drum machine. Afterwards John Deacon came up with a suitable bass line. Mercury reconstructed the track, both musically and lyrically. It was still credited to Taylor since Mercury was an arranger rather than a co-writer. Fred Mandel, their session keyboardist, put together an additive track with piano, synth and a temporary bass part. May used a glass slide for his guitar solo. Taylor sang all the backing vocals, and used a Vocoder throughout the song. Most of the song is made out of electronics and synthesizers.

Tear It Up

"Tear It Up" is May's song, and the demo features him doing the vocals instead of Mercury. It was written as an attempt to revive Queen's old sound. It features stomping percussion similar to "We Will Rock You" that drives the song.

It's a Hard Life

"It's a Hard Life" is one of May's and Taylor's favourite songs from Mercury (although they admitted that they hated the video). May contributed with some of the lyrics, and the intro was based on Ruggero Leoncavallo's Vesti la giubba, an aria from his opera Pagliacci. Mercury played piano and did most of the vocals, and conducted May about the scales he should use for the solo, described by May in the guitar program Star Licks as very "Bohemian Rhapsody"-esque.

Man on the Prowl

"Man on the Prowl" is a three-chord rockabilly Mercury composition (similar to "Crazy Little Thing Called Love") in which Fred Mandel plays the piano ending. Note that "Tear It Up", "It's a Hard Life" and this song are free of synthesizers. May played the solo using a Telecaster.

Machines (Or 'Back to Humans')

"Machines (Or 'Back to Humans')" came up as an idea by Taylor, and May collaborated with him and finished it. Producer Reinhold Mack programmed the synth-"demolition" using a Fairlight CMI II Sampler, and the song is sung as a duet between two Mercury (harmonising with each other) and a robotic Taylor (using a Roland VP330 Vocoder). The instrumental remix of the song samples parts of "Ogre Battle" from Queen's second album Queen II, Flash and Larry Lurex's "Goin' Back" (in fact Queen (sans John Deacon) under a pseudonym). This song, along with Radio Ga Ga are some of the heaviest uses of electronics on the album.

I Want to Break Free

"I Want to Break Free" was written by John Deacon out of frustration. This pop song is best known probably because of its controversial video, featuring all four Queen members dressed up as women, in a parody of the British soap opera Coronation Street. The idea for the clip was from Roger Taylor. Freddie commented that 'Everybody ran into their frocks'. John Deacon, the song's author, insisted he didn't want a guitar solo on the track so a synth solo was played by Fred Mandel – live, however, May played the solo on guitar.

Keep Passing the Open Windows

"Keep Passing the Open Windows" was written by Mercury in 1983 for the film version of The Hotel New Hampshire, based on a novel by John Irving. The phrase is mentioned on a number of occasions throughout the film and was, according to the opening credits, also co-produced by the band's manager Jim Beach, who changed it in order to suit the album mood better. Mercury played piano and synths and wrote the lyrics after reading the quote in the book.

Hammer to Fall

"Hammer to Fall" is May's other rock song in the album. Live versions were considerably faster and he sang it in his solo tours as well. Synths are played by Mandel and most of vocal harmonies were recorded by May himself, particularly in the bridge (save for "oh no" which is Taylor). The song harks back to the Queen of old, with a song being built around a hard angular and muscular riff. The song features Freddie Mercury on lead vocals, doing a call and response with May, who sings the chorus. The song's music video directed by David Mallet, contains footage of a performance of the song in Brussels.[6]

"Hammer to Fall" was a concert favourite, and was the third song the band performed at Live Aid in 1985.[7] The song also features in the setlist of the band's Magic Tour in 1986.[8]

Is This the World We Created...?

"Is This the World We Created...?" was written in Munich after Mercury and May watched the news of poverty in Africa, and performed at Live Aid. Mercury wrote most of the lyrics and May wrote the chords and made small lyrical contributions. The song was recorded with an Ovation but live May used Taylor's Gibson Chet Atkins CE nylon-stringed guitar. Originally, a Freddie Mercury composition,"There Must Be More To Life Than This" (which was around since the "Hot Space" sessions and finally ended up on Freddie's solo record "Mr Bad Guy") was supposed to be the album's last track.

I Go Crazy

"I Go Crazy" is another Brian May rocker from the Works time period, which ended up as the B-side to Roger Taylor's "Radio Ga Ga". The song, which was demoed during the "Hot Space" sessions (some say it was tried out during "The Game" sessions) was not to the liking of the other band members and therefore removed from the album. Nonetheless, it ended up as a B-side, making its first digital appearance on the 1991 The Works CD release. Lead vocals are mostly sung by Mercury, with May singing lead on the bridge in the middle. The song ends with Taylor and Mercury alternating vocals on the word "crazy".



  • Fred Mandel: Synth Brass on "I Want To Break free", Piano, programming
  • Mack: Fairlight CMI programming on "Machines", engineering
  • Mike Beiriger: additional engineering
  • Stefan Wissnet: additional engineering
  • Ed Delena: additional engineering
  • Bill Smith: sleeve design
  • George Hurrell: photography


For the first and only time in their career, all the songs (and one non-album track, "I Go Crazy") from a Queen album were used as either A-sides or B-sides on singles. Starting with this album, the group began issuing singles in the United Kingdom under their own catalogue numbers.

Number Format A-side B-side Released date (UK)
QUEEN 1 (7" Single) "Radio Ga Ga" "I Go Crazy"
12QUEEN 1 (12" Single) "Radio Ga Ga (Extended Version)" "Radio Ga Ga (Instrumental Version)"/"I Go Crazy" 23 January 1984
QUEEN 2 (7" Single) "I Want to Break Free (Single Mix)" "Machines (or 'Back to Humans')"
12QUEEN 2 (12" Single) "I Want to Break Free (Extended Mix)" "Machines (or 'Back to Humans')" 2 April 1984
QUEEN 3 (7" Single) "It's a Hard Life" "Is This the World We Created...?"
12QUEEN 3 (12" Single) "It's a Hard Life" "Is This the World We Created...?" 16 July 1984
QUEEN 4 (7" Single) "Hammer to Fall (Headbanger's Mix Edit)" "Tear It Up"
12QUEEN 4 (12" Single) "Hammer to Fall (Headbanger's Mix)" "Tear It Up" 10 September 1984
QUEEN 5 (7" Single) "Thank God It's Christmas" (non-album track) "Man on the Prowl"/"Keep Passing the Open Windows"
12QUEEN 5 (12" Single) "Thank God It's Christmas" "Man on the Prowl (Extended Version)"/"Keep Passing the Open Windows (Extended Version)" 26 November 1984


Format A-side B-side
US 7" Single & Cassette Single "Radio Ga Ga (US Single Edit)" "I Go Crazy"
US Promo 7" Single "I Want to Break Free (Single Mix)" "I Want to Break Free (Special 7" Single Edit)"
US 7" Single & Cassette Single "I Want to Break Free (Single Mix)" "Machines (or 'Back to Humans') (Instrumental Version)"


Chart positions

Chart (1984) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[9] 12
Austrian Albums Chart[10] 2
Canadian Albums Chart[11] 22
Dutch Albums Chart[12] 1
French Albums Chart[13] 14
Italian Albums Chart[14] 4
Japanese Albums Chart[15] 7
New Zealand Albums Chart[16] 9
Norwegian Albums Chart[17] 2
Swedish Albums Chart[18] 3
Swiss Albums Chart[19] 3
UK Albums Chart[20] 2
U.S. Billboard 200[21] 23
West German Albums Chart[22] 3

Year-end charts

Chart (1984) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 48
Austrian Albums Chart[23] 2
Canadian Albums Chart[24] 88
Italian Albums Chart[14] 37
UK Albums Chart[25] 14

Decade-end charts

Chart (1980-89) Position
Austrian Albums Chart[26] 32


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Austria (IFPI Austria)[27] Platinum 50,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[28] Platinum 100,000^
Germany (BVMI)[29] Platinum 500,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[30] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[31] Platinum 50,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Platinum 650,000[25]
United States (RIAA)[33] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Rolling Stone Music | Album Reviews". 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  4. ^ "Queen - 02-25-1984 - The Works - Sounds". Queen Archives. 1984-02-25. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Queen Biography 1984". Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  6. ^ Queen Biography 1984 Queen Zone. Retrieved July 11, 2011
  7. ^ Live Aid: Hammer to Fall Ultimate Queen. Retrieved July 11, 2011
  8. ^ Queen live on tour: Magic tour Queen Concerts. Retrieved July 11, 2011
  9. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  10. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - The Works" (in German) (ASP). Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  11. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada" (PHP). Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  12. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - The Works" (in Dutch) (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  13. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste : Queen" (in French) (PHP). Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  14. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1984" (in Italian). Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  15. ^ a-クイーン "- Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) - Albums Chart Daijiten - Queen" (in Japanese). 2007-12-30. a-クイーン. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  16. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - The Works" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recoding Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  17. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - The Works" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  18. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - The Works" (ASP). Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  19. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - The Works" (ASP). Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  20. ^ "Queen - The Works" (PHP). Chart Stats. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  21. ^ "Queen". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  22. ^ "" (ASP). Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  23. ^ " - Jahreshitparade 1984". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  24. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. 1985-01-05. Retrieved 2010-12-06. 
  25. ^ a b "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  26. ^ " - Bestenlisten - 80-er album" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  27. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Queen – The Works" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Queen in the field Interpret. Enter The Works in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  28. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Queen – The Works". Music Canada. 
  29. ^ "German album certifications – Queen – The Works" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  30. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Queen – The Works" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  31. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Queen; 'The Works')". Hung Medien. 
  32. ^ "British album certifications – Queen – The Works". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter The Works in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  33. ^ "American album certifications – Queen – The Works". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking by Roger Waters
Dutch Mega Chart number-one album
2 June, 1984
Succeeded by
Seven and the Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran

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