So finally I’ve managed to get around to writing about the last proper studio album Queen did featuring Freddie Mercury on vocals and the original line-up (albeit produced and released after he died). Of course there is a dark cloud hanging over all the tracks on this album and I struggle with some of the sentiment involved.
I miss Freddie Mercury as the great entertainer and front man he was and I find the fact that ‘Queen’ carried on afterwards, helped do a cheesy musical with Ben Elton, let advertisers use their songs on sofa commercials, performed cruddy team-ups with other artists, released countless compilations etc. which cashed in on the legacy rather difficult to stomach. So listening to this album retrospectively for this CD Marathon was a bittersweet experience.
The first short track is ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’ which is based on some old material from circa The Game album. It has a tiresomely slow opening which loops back from the pretty pointless final track thirteen. The vocals when they finally arrive are actually really powerful and like so many of the tracks on this album it doesn’t feel cobbled together at all but rather a short intro track.
The title track ‘Made in Heaven’ has some excellent sounding guitars on it and some great, at times Lennon-esque, lilting vocals. It’s a track off one of Mercury’s solo albums but sounds a lot more like Queen in this guise. It has some religious undertones to the lyrics which have Mercury singing about his life and what was meant to be.
‘Let Me Live’ is probably one of the best tracks on the album and features all three of Queen’s vocalists on the one track. This one is a genuine patchwork quilt in terms of production but it sounds great with the gospel like chorus reminiscent of ‘Somebody to Love’. May and Taylor fill in the gaps where Rod Stewart was supposed to be singing on the song that had been languishing in a broom cupboard somewhere after it was never used on The Works (to my mind it would have been a strange track to appear on The Works anyway). The repeated line ‘Let Me Live’ is quite sad when you think of the circumstance of how this track ended up on this album.
‘Mother Love’ contains some awesome moody vocals which were recorded in the final days of Mercury’s life and this is the really affecting track on the album especially lines like ‘I long for peace before I die’. There’s some interesting samples used within the track and May had to fill in some of the vocals because it was unfinished after Mercury went to have a rest and never came back to the studio. The samples aren’t overdone and unlike the Paul Walker montage in Fast and Furious there’s quite a light touch to the understandable sentimentality.
‘My Life Has Been Saved’ is another old track – a b-side – with the music redone around the existing vocal track. It’s very much a b-side and not particularly noteworthy. It fits well on the album which is a very non-rock laid back outing and it doesn’t go on too long so I won’t complain too much.
‘I Was Born to Love You’ is obviously a Freddie solo track, originally a funky disco number, which has then been rather cleverly Queen-ifed into a rock track for this album. Again there’s a few snippets of other tracks to fill it out a bit at the end and a reasonably interesting May solo and guitar tomfoolerly from the mop topped one.
‘Heaven for Everyone’ is my main bugbear on this album. You see I bought an album by Taylor’s band The Cross and so I know this track as their song not a Queen song. Sure I recall Mercury doing vocals on one version of the album and Taylor on the other but these versions were better than this reworked version and it is very much money for old rope with this track. I also know that May came in and did the guitar work on the original and yet… oh never mind. It’s not a Queen song, but it is…. I actually don’t like the guitar solo that’s been spliced in either… It smacks of the remains of Queen trawling around for tracks mentioning living or heaven for the album and going ‘oh yeah let’s use this…’
‘Too Much Love Will Kill You’ is a contender for the best track on the album alongside ‘Let Me Live’ and seems like it was written for this album but was in fact written for and omitted at the last minute from The Miracle. Given that fans would never heard it before there was no need to fiddle with it and I think it shows. The track features some great guitars, lyrics, vocals, bass, drums and last but not least keyboards by long time Queen and Bowie producer David Richards.
‘You Don’t Fool Me’ is a masterpiece of musical construction by Richards built from snippets of vocals from Mercury provided just before his death. It has a funky vibe which harks back to the stuff on Hot Space or Mercury’s solo projects.
‘A Winter’s Tale’ is somewhat of a Christmas song and for me it rests rather uncomfortably on the ears. It’s nice that it’s on the end of the album so you can just skip it and not feel too bad about it. The vocals are okay but the music and the lyrics suck big style. Sorry. In fact I can’t even listen to it while I’m typing now. Next!
‘It’s a Beautiful Day (Reprise)’ does what exactly it says on the tin. It has a nice relaxed vibe to it and then actually gets quite rocky towards the end. Again there’s some really nice guitar work in the background hidden behind the drumbeat, bass and vocal snippets. And some cheeky ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’ samples which makes me want to listen to Queen II right now!
‘Yeah’ is Mercury saying ‘yeah’ at the end of ‘It’s a Beautiful Day (Reprise)’ and marked as a track in its own right. Pointless.
‘Track 13’ is totally pointless and I refuse to say anything more than that about it. Let’s get Queen II on…