In 1987, when faced with an extended break from not only the recording studio but also the stage, the members of Queen went off on their own: Freddie teamed up with Montserrat Caballé to record Barcelona; John stayed at home and caught up with his family; Brian, plagued with marital discord and the worsening condition of his father's health; found solace with a new lady (Anita Dobson) and started to piece together his first proper solo album; and Roger, who had a backlog of songs building up, worked on his third solo album.
Midway through the sessions, which took place intermittently throughout the middle months of 1987, Roger decided he wanted to eventually take his new album out on the road. After recording almost all of the album himself (as on previous efforts, though Spike Edney helped out on keyboards and Brian, Freddie, and John each contributed a bit to certain tracks), Roger set about recruiting musicians for the as-yet unnamed band. Spike was retained as keyboardist, and Roger wanted to become the frontman of the group, thus casting himself on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. The remainder didn't come about as easily: instead of using the immense clout he had gathered up over the years and asking musician friends or peers to join his band, he wanted to start from the ground up, and placed a discreet ad in UK music papers. Wishing to avoid broadcasting his name or his "first" band, Roger was nonplussed when response proved minimal, at best. He reconsidered his strategy and added some pizazz: "If you think you're good enough and you want to be a star, call this number". It worked, and suddenly he and Spike were trudging through piles of tapes to find the new members of the band. Thus, Joshua J. Macrae (drums), Clayton Moss (guitar), and Peter Noone (bass) found Roger and Spike, and The Cross was born.
However, Shove It is not a true band effort; as Roger explained, "I had to go out and get a record deal first, so that we could fund this thing and get it all going. It was a case of the chicken before the egg, but it was the only way to do it." Joshua, Clayton, and Peter each contributed a bit to a few songs, though most of the work was done by Roger and Spike between May and September 1987, and Shove It can be considered a Roger Taylor solo album in all but name.
The album has come under fire from fans and critics alike for sounding of its time and hardly up to par with anything Queen had put out in recent years. Indeed, there was a strong mix of dance and rock on the album, with some of the lyrics (very often not Roger's strong point) sounding downright embarrassing; however, there are some minor classics on the album, notably Heaven For Everyone, Feel The Force, and Rough Justice, all of which could have been Queen tracks. Even simple rock'n'roll songs like Love Lies Bleeding (She Was A Wicked, Wily Waitress) and Stand Up For Love are enjoyable, if inconsequential. Elsewhere, however, the result is less than spectacular, and Shove It remains one of the least affectionately regarded Queen-related solo albums to have been recorded.
The first single from the album was Cowboys And Indians, which reached #74 in the UK upon its release in September 1987, not an entirely terrible chart position, all things considered; however, subsequent singles ( the title track, released January 1988, and Heaven For Everyone, released March 1988) performed less well (#84 and #83, respectively), while a non-album single, Manipulator, failed to chart at all. The album itself, released November 1987 on Richard Branson's Virgin Records label, peaked at #58, though the US release, which came in January 1988, failed to excite much interest at all, and didn't chart. An unusual trend which had been implemented since the recent boom of the compact disc format affected the order of tracks on all releases; the UK and US order was switched around considerably, with an alternate version of Love Lies Bleeding (She Was A Wicked, Wily Waitress) being used in the US, while Heaven For Everyone had Freddie on lead vocals on the UK and European album versions, while Roger himself provided lead vocals on the US version. On top of that, Feel The Force was reserved for US copies alone, and The 2nd Shelf Mix, essentially an instrumental remix of the title track, appeared only on UK and European CD releases.
Roger wasn't too broken up about the lack of success, for The Cross had been formed in order to get out on the road and perform live, which they did in Spring 1988, performing a mix of Roger's Queen and solo songs with the new songs from the album. It was clear that The Cross was merely a side project for Roger (he had the blessing of Brian, Freddie, and John, on one condition: that Queen activities always came first), though Spike, Joshua, Clayton, and Peter were determined to have the new band become more democratic, which was implemented almost immediately on the next album.
The Cross talks