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Queen - Made in Heaven CD (album) cover

MADE IN HEAVEN

Queen

 

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3.27 | 222 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars You don't fool me

This album was made under some highly peculiar circumstances using some highly peculiar methods. After having released the excellent Innuendo album it was clear that Freddie Mercury's heath was rapidly failing. After Freddie's tragic death, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon assembled whatever bits and pieces they could find to construct this final Queen album. The album was then released posthumously, hence the title 'Made In Heaven' (which presumably is the place Freddie is believed to be in by those who believe in that sort of thing).

Several of the songs on this album had been released before in different versions and contexts and yet others were previously unreleased but much older than indicated by the release date of this album. The opening track, for example, is rumoured to have begun life already in 1980 as a pure improvisation by Freddie alone with his piano. Only a couple of the songs here were ones that Freddie had worked on after Innuendo. The most notable one is Mother Love.

The title track and I Was Born To Love You originally appeared on Freddie Mercury's solo album Mr. Bad Guy that was released in 1985. While the vocals are identical, the music used here is different from the originals and was recorded by the trio after Freddie's death. It is evident that they have tried to "Queenify" these songs, giving them a stronger Rock sound. But like many other songs from this album that originated in other contexts they do not quite succeed to disguise the reasons for which these songs were deemed unsuitable for Queen in the first place (not implying that all of them were ever proposed to the band, but some of the songs here were). When Freddie wrote these songs for his solo album it is clear that he wanted to go in a more Pop direction and the trio's obvious attempts to make them rockier sounds a bit forced.

The origins of Let Me Live are unknown, but this too is an older song. This one has lead vocals by Freddie, Roger and Brian and their voices really are distinctive all of them on their own and they fit perfectly together. How many bands can claim to have three distinctive voices? (The Beatles is the only example I can think of). My Life Has Been Saved originally appeared as the b-side for the Scandal single in the late 80's. Again, I think that the vocal is identical but the music is slightly different (I have not compared them side by side, though). Heaven For Everyone originally appeared on The Cross' first album Shove It (The Cross was a side project by Roger Taylor). Apparently, on some versions of Shove It, this song had lead vocals by Freddie (which is the very same vocal used on Made In Heaven) and on other versions of that album the lead vocals were by Taylor (the latter version is the one I have). There is some good guitar work in this one.

Too Much Love Will Kill You first appeared on Brian May's first solo album Back To The Light with him on lead vocals. This version has Freddie on lead vocals. I actually prefer the Brian May version of Too Much Love Will Kill You. Brian's fragile voice fits this song very well, but Freddie sings it very well too, of course.

While the previous album, Innuendo, sounded different and fresh compared to the bands 80's releases, Made In Heaven reverts to a large degree to the 80's sound and production of albums like The Works. This is not surprising since most of the material on Made In Heaven originated in the 80's. The Disco sounds of You Don't Fool Me sounds particularly dated and, I must say, a bit boring. A Winter's Tale is something of a Christmas song. Personally, I have an aversion to Christmas songs and cannot really get into this one even if it is not obviously a Christmas song. The 22 minute plus hidden track is not Queen's lost epic, but a rather tedious New Age like instrumental with some bits and pieces of Freddie's vocalisations. Maybe this is Brian's, Roger's and John's idea of what it sounds like up in heaven? Anyway, it is very surprising that they do this kind of thing!

Given the expectations for this album, and given the unusual methods by which it was made, the result is pretty decent. Still, I think that it suffers a little from the scraping-the-barrel-phenomenon. That is why I prefer to consider the excellent Innuendo to be Freddie's real swan song.

For hardcore Queen fans like me this album is something of a Godsend (pun intended), but for the rest this is probably not too interesting (and there is no question of this being Prog).

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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