Give Queen -- or Brian May and Roger Taylor, as that's who's left at this point -- and new singer Paul Rodgers this much credit: this awkward marriage of convenience winds up being more convincing on the 2008 studio effort The Cosmos Rocks than it did on the live album. Of course, this is almost entirely due to the fact that the songs here were written by and for Rodgers, a frontman who is a cosmos away from Freddie Mercury and never quite seemed comfortable taming Freddie's flamboyancy. Here, Rodgers effectively rules the roost, helping steer The Cosmos Rocks far, far away from the meticulous, grandiose sonic sculptures of Queen at the height of their reign and toward a humble boogie. At its best, this can sound a bit like a second-rate Bad Company, at its worst it feels like Free -- not quite like Queen, but not necessarily unenjoyable either, thanks in part to a Brian May who seems, frankly, thrilled to play new songs again. That none of these songs are good -- hell, some of them are frankly embarrassing, especially when Rodgers channels his inner David St. Hubbins to sing "The cosmos is rocking with the majestic power of rock" -- is almost beside the point. This is all clichés -- glittering gold, rock & roll and school's out -- but the band seems happy to shuffle the pieces and put them together in a slightly different order, to get whatever meager charge there is by following a 20-degree curve instead of a 15-degree one. There are hints of the old craziness -- thank the stars for "C-Lebrity," a monumentally silly satire of TMZ married to the only outsized arrangement here, but "Call Me" also comes close to capturing the bright pop of The Game -- but this is firmly Rodgers' show; it's all meat and potatoes, not champagne and caviar. And, truth be told, it's not all that bad. Certainly, it's not the embarrassment of the live album, but it has its own internal logic that keeps it humming along, and that's good enough for a listen and to get the band out on tour again, even it's not good enough for a second spin.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine