Release date: 2 June 1986
UK chart peak: #1
Running time: 40:42
Singles: One Vision (#7), A Kind of Magic (#3), Friends Will Be Friends (#14), Who Wants To Live Forever (#24)
After their triumphant set at Live Aid in 1985, their 1986 return provided the band with many top tens across the globe: #1 in Argentina, #3 in Austria, #2 in the Netherlands, #4 in Switzerland & West Germany, #6 in France, #9 in New Zealand & Sweden, and #5 in Norway.
musical context at the time of release; single & album charts; the band at that point in time
A study in 2015 concluded that 1986 was “the most repetitive year on record”, meaning songs ended up blending into one… In the album charts, Peter Gabriel’s So was riding high around the time of A Kind of Magic‘s release, and Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms & Simply Red’s Picture Book were in the top ten. In the singles charts, The Chicken Song by Spitting Image had just been knocked off the top spot by Doctor and the Medics’ version of Spirit in the Sky.
Queen were riding high after stealing the show at Wembley, heading quickly back into the studio and producing One Vision in time for a 1985 single release. Many of the songs feature in the cult film Highlander, starring Christopher Lambert.
I’ve always thought it was a bit cheeky (and also lazy) that the band ‘stole’ part of the Highlander soundtrack for their own purposes, rather than creating a dedicated soundtrack album or a completely new studio album. But they got away with it!
There are some great tracks on there, though for me it’s not exactly wall-to-wall bangers. Who Wants To Live Forever is genuinely beautiful, Princes of the Universe and Gimme The Prize are welcome heavy rock flashes, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the title track.
Let Me Entertain You
The band went out on the Magic Tour in support of the album; they played 26 shows between 7 June & 9 August 1986, and it was famously their final ever tour – the last concert took place at Knebworth. It was also one of the largest tours ever in terms of attendance: over one million people came to the gigs. There were many support acts enlisted for these dates, including Status Quo, INXS, Marillion, The Bangles, Gary Moore, and Big Country.