30 June 1980, Queen released their eighth and highly successful studio album, ‘The Game’ in the UK by EMI and in the USA by Elektra records.
This was the first Queen album recorded in two sessions, the band recorded four tracks from June-July of 1979 and would complete the recording from February- May of 1980. Roger Taylor said they were ambitious and about forty songs had been submitted for the album – certainly enough for a double album, once all the decent material had been separated from the sub-par. Yet, surprisingly, only ten songs appeared on the album.
Despite the fact that Queen had recently purchased their own recording studios in Montreux, Switzerland, they did not use it for this project. All tracks were recorded in Musicland in Munich and were produced by Queen and Reinhold Mack.
It was the first Queen/Mack co-venture but certainly not the last; the collaboration would go on to produce some of the band’s finest work and be responsible for many of the biggest and best known hits.
‘The Game’ marked a notable turning point for Queen in terms of musical style. For the first time they were experimenting with disco/funk rhythms and completely immersing themselves in the bass-driven grooves of the day. Whatever Queen did, and whatever the fall-out might be, good or bad, they embraced it wholeheartedly, and this album was no exception.
‘The Game’ was the first Queen album to feature a synthesizer, though this aspect was unwelcome news to many long term fans who had been with Queen since the ‘Nobody played synths’ albums of the seventies. John in particular is known to enjoy soulful upbeat Motown and disco/dance music, and was the person most at ease with this significant change in direction. From these sessions came the mighty ‘Another One Bites The Dust,’ a colossal international hit that gave John his first No 1 record. Inspired by the kind of bass lines so successfully employed by soul group Chic at that time, ‘Bites The Dust’ came from nowhere to catapult Queen into the stratosphere and a whole new audience – even in the most unlikely quarters as the black funk clubs of New York.
“We were No.1 in all the Soul, Black orientated charts, Disco charts…it was totally unexpected…we never even thought of that record as being a single…” (Roger Taylor on Another One Bites The Dust)
Brian May told Mojo in 1999, “We struggled bitterly with each other. We were all frustrated with each other. I remember John [Deacon] saying I didn’t play the kind of guitar he wanted on his songs. We all tried to leave the band more than once. But then we’d come back to the idea that the band was greater than any of us. It was more enduring than most of our marriages.”
“That was when we started trying to get outside what was normal for us. Plus we had a new engineer in Mack and a new environment in Munich. Everything was different. We turned our whole studio technique around in a sense, because Mack had come from a different background from us. We thought there was only one way of doing things, like doing a backing tracks: We would just do it until we got it right. If there were some bits where it speeded up or slowed down, then we would do it again until it was right. We had done some of our old backing tracks so many times, they were too stiff. Mack’s first contribution was to say, “Well you don’t have to do that. I can drop the whole thing in. If it breaks down after half a minute, then we can edit in and carry on if you just play along with the tempo”. We laughed and said “Don’t be silly. You can’t do that”. But in fact, you can. What you gain is the freshness, because often a lot of the backing tracks is first time though. It really helped a lot. There was less guitar on that album, but that’s really not going to be the same forever; that was just an experiment.”
– Brian May interview with Guitar Player 1983
‘The Game’ became a huge success on both sides of the pond, it topped the UK and the USA charts not to mention, it also went on to take the top slot on the Argentinian, Canadian and Dutch charts. The album scored two massive number one hits in America, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘Another One Bites The Dust.’ It was also the only Queen album to reach #1 in the US becoming their best-selling studio album in the US, with four million copies sold to date, tying with the sales for ‘News of the World.’ It was also certified 4x Platinum! This fantastic album has sold an impressive 12 million copies worldwide! Wow!
Queen are most definitely – Rock Royalty.
Freddie said ‘The Game’ was his favorite album