QUEEN Releases 'Machines (Or Back To Humans)' Digital Single
November 10, 2023
A thrilling collision of sound and vision dubbed "a masterclass" by USA Today, the QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT "Rhapsody" show opens with the juddering industrial beat and vocal harmonies of "Machines (Or Back To Humans)" — a new reworking of the cult favorite track that opened the second side of "The Works" album in 1984.
While immersive staging pulls the audience into a dystopian world of spinning cogs and hissing pistons, a battalion of CGI robots march across the giant video screens to the sound of "Machines" and look down on the crowd with unforgiving brimstone eyes — only to be vanquished with the assistance of a virtual Freddie Mercury vocal, the band then launching into a techo-infused but highly human "Radio Ga Ga", which kicks off a two-hours-plus roller coaster of the band's legacy catalogue.
In the opening of the new "Rhapsody" production, the audience hears Freddie Mercury and Brian May's dueting lead vocals from behind, raising the alarm (originally in 1984!) that the Machines are about to take over. Set against this, the robotic voices are provided by Roger Taylor's vocoded vocals advocating the Machines' point of view. The theme of this conflict bursts back in at various points later in the set.
May, co-creator (with Taylor) of the "Machines" song, and advocate of the new theme, says: "The Robot Horde provide a narrative thread to our new show. In these days of artificial intelligence beginning to invade our whole lives, these mechanical guys personify robotic insurgence. In our still-developing current show, 'Back To Humans' is the soundtrack to us as humans reclaiming our control. 'Machines' and 'Radio Ga Ga' actually have a common ancestor, the beginnings of a collaboration between myself and Roger in the sessions for 'The Works' album in 1984. But we had different ideas of how it should develop, and the track split into two songs going in opposite directions … Roger piloting 'Radio Ga Ga' to completion and into a world-wide hit, and me taking the route of making 'Machines' into a kind of unending battle. Putting the new show together, it hit me that 'Machines' was more relevant than ever. So the idea came about of theming the show with a 21st century version of this battle — and, incidentally, bringing 'Ga Ga' and 'Machines' fittingly back together once again. And this stands very well with our long-standing belief that a rock show should be live and dangerous rather than performed to clicks and electronic backings."
Adds Taylor: "'Machines' was born out of the electronica we originally explored on 'Radio Ga Ga' to create this sense of the battle between the electric side and the human side. Now at a time when it's increasingly becoming a machines world and we're all just trying to keep up, we felt it the perfect time to revive this idea of basically going back to humans."
Reintroduced to the QUEEN setlist for the band's current U.S. tour, the feverish live reaction to "Machines (Or Back To Humans)" has now prompted the band to release the original track as a digital single becoming available November 10.
Taylor says: "Basically, it starts off where everything is electronic — electronic drums, everything, And what you have is the 'human' rock band sort of crashing in. What you wind up with is a battle between the two."
Originally written by Brian and Roger almost 40 years ago and today holding a core position in the band's current spectacular live production, "Machines" is undisputedly now even more of its time than ever.
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