Side one starts out with Queen’s back-to-back anthemic classics, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. Does it get any better for a Queen fan? Hell no!
The stomps and claps that introduce the former should make you feel like you are in a stadium full of people with a single goal – to rock you. Those stomps and claps need weight and clarity, an unusual combination. One without the other is not going to cut it.
The record needs to be able to reproduce the room everybody is in, while still conveying the tremendous impact and power. Most domestic pressings are severely lacking in these areas. This kind of anemia can be frustrating — you want to rock but the sound won’t let you.
Another quality our best copies excelled in was the sound of Brian May’s guitar during his solo toward the end of the song. Here his tone is very boxy with no real highs or lows, but when that sound is exaggerated by bad mastering, it sounds like there are mattresses sitting in front of his amplifiers. The best copies had extension on the high end, restoring the clarity and complimenting his distinctive technique.
Pay close attention to John Deacon’s bass work underneath Freddie’s singing. The notes he plays should be very distinguishable and have a full, round tone.
When the tension reaches its climax right before the epic chorus begins, Roger Taylor does a huge drum roll that should let you hear what his toms really sound like – serious attack, high-pitched, and roomy.
Some of the best sound on this album can be found on the second half of the second side. We listened to “It’s Late” with dropped jaws. It’s like a completely different album! It’s got high-end extension that can even be heard on the bad copies! Can you imagine having to be the mastering engineer for this album? The problems seem far too varied and complex to be fixed in the mastering. Then you hear a track like this and realize that the cutting equipment they were using must have been great! The sound is awesome!
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions
Sheer Heart Attack
All Dead, All Dead
Spread Your Wings
Fight From the Inside
Get Down, Make Love
Sleeping on the Sidewalk
Who Needs You
My Melancholy Blues
… many of these songs work well on their own as entities, so there is plenty to savor here, especially from Brian May. Whether he’s doing the strangely subdued eccentric English pop “All Dead, All Dead” or especially the majestic yet nimble rocker “It’s Late,” he turns in work that gives this album some lightness, which it needs. And that’s the reason News of the World was a monster hit despite its coldness — when it works, it’s massive, earth-shaking rock & roll, the sound of a band beginning to revel in its superstardom.