Though the public didn’t know it at the time, The Miracle, released in 1989, is the first album Queen made after Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS. It’s also the first album in which the band shared songwriting credits instead of staking individual claims—a business decision, but also a reflection of newfound solidarity. Rock had changed, especially in the mainstream: Guns N’ Roses and Metallica were holding down the vanguard for music both violently antisocial and embraced by millions, while Def Leppard and Bon Jovi had taken over the airbrushed pleasures of Kiss. Neither bad boys nor pin-ups, shut-ins nor nerds, Queen felt like the standard-bearers of a more innocent time. Admittedly, the group had always stood out; that’s part of what made them great. But in the late 1980s, the closest thing you could compare them to in terms of their sense of grandeur and hope was probably U2—a different band in pretty much every other way. Sonically, The Miracle finds the members of Queen continuing to explore the stadium-sized pop-rock they settled on with A Kind of Magic. Thematically, they offer hope (“The Miracle”), bite (“Scandal”) and persistence (“I Want It All”). And, in a twist coming from a band so occupied with the triumphant present, they give in to a little nostalgia for the hard rock that made them (“Khashoggi’s Ship”, “Was It All Worth It”). The album can feel pretty dated at times. But in a way, circa-1980s Queen did more to lay the groundwork for bands like Foo Fighters and The Killers than a lot of the more seemingly relevant music of the era. And as for Mercury, whose health issues would soon make touring an impossibility for Queen, his vocals retain their operatic grandeur throughout the album—which for fans, may just be the true miracle of The Miracle.