Made In Heaven: 19 Years Later

Hi all and welcome to another entry in the blog. Today is the 19th anniversary of the release of the final proper studio album for Queen, Made In Heaven. Well, actually it is a conventional studio album and it isn’t at the same time; I will get into that as I go along. However, you can’t overlook that it is an album that is important in the Queen catalog. It was anticipated ever since the death of Freddie Mercury but I don’t think anybody expected something as polished as this. It is very well done, even though it was sort of limited in scope as far as the music went. However, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and David Richards did an exemplary job, putting together something that sounds like a conventional Queen album with all 4 members, using recorded vocals from Freddie Mercury.

As for the songs, they were mostly from the 80s, when Queen had been recording and touring but also exploring other area’s with solo work. Four songs from 3 of the members solo or Side projects appeared on this album. They were, Made In Heaven and Born To Love You from Freddie’s 1985 debut solo outing Mr. Bad Guy, Heaven For Every One from Roger Taylor’s other band The Cross and Too Much Love Will Kill You from Brian May’s Back To The Light. Obviously, the latter songs were recorded with Freddie on vocals but not released on a Queen album until Made In Heaven, for various reasons.

It’s funny, during the Queen For An Hour interview in 1989 with BBC Radio host Mike Reid, Freddie gave hints of much more material recorded for The Miracle than what appeared on the final album, including the bonus tracks an B sides. They seemed to have forgotten about songs that were great idea’s but weren’t used again over the years. This is probably how songs such as: It’s A Beautiful Day and Let Me Live ended up on the album. The latter was recorded potentially for The Works in 1984 and It’s A Beautiful Day appeared again as a “spontaneous idea” as one of the bonus tracks on the 2011 Deluxe version of The Game. If you listen to Freddie’s voice you can tell it is from that period because he was starting to sing higher in full voice and with a growl and rasp. Plus at the time, he was approaching his mid 30’s and the band were experimenting with synthesizers for the first time and with funk too.

My Life Has Been Saved was rerecorded from The Miracle sessions and was the B side to the single Scandal. The original version appears as a bonus track on the 2011 deluxe version of Made In Heaven and before then was also available on YouTube. Too Much Love Will Kill You was also probably recorded around the time of The Miracle but couldn’t be put on the album for various reasons. Heaven For Every One was recorded with Freddie singing to help Roger with singing the song on the debut album for The Cross.

The other 3 tracks: Mother Love, You Don’t Fool Me and A Winter’s Tale had vocals from Freddie that were recorded after Innuendo. You can tell because: despite how strong his voice was it was becoming thinner. All though, Mother Love sounded like it could have been recorded a couple of years earlier, especially when Freddie sings in the lower register. It’s when Freddie goes up high, you can hear how recent the vocal was to his passing. The other telling thing about the song is that Brian sang the last verse, which Freddie was going to sing but obviously, he didn’t feel he was well enough to do it.

Okay, now we get to the unlisted track, which took me by surprise when I heard it for the first time. When Brian May was doing a radio interview on a Toronto radio station in early 1996, he said that they wanted to put only material on this album that would make it a proper Queen album. If it didn’t fit then it wouldn’t go on. It’s like making something out of nothing and in a way, this track is that but not really.

This track is noted for its length and it’s ambience, which is similar to something that you would hear from Brian Eno with his solo work. I think it was cool that it was on the album because it gave us something unusual to listen to and discuss for years. I also like the Freddie samples such as: “are you running,” Freddie laughing and Freddie’s last word on the album “fab.” The something out of nothing was the music itself, which is interesting because it goes up and down from soft to very soft. It also incorporates elements of It’s A Beautiful Day from the classical section that John Deacon wrote for the track. In a way, Yeah and the untitled track could be the very long ending to the reprise of It’s A Beautiful Day.

The only thing missing on the album is a rocker such as a track like” The Hit Man or Stone Cold Crazy. Unfortunately I don’t think there is much left of Freddie that really kicks ass, or am I wrong? I hope I am and we will hear another unreleased rocker from Freddie in the future. I guess the closest thing is Born To Love You and It’s A Beautiful Day (Reprise).

Over all, this is a great album, even though the tone is softer then usual. It is a great final proper studio album for a band with many successes and some failures along the way too. Unfortunately, they were limited by what they had available to them, with Freddie on vocals. This is of course, before revisiting: Let Me In Your Heart Again, Love Kills and There Must Be More To Life Than This, for the new album Queen Forever. I am hopeful that there are more rockers in the can with Freddie singing them. To me, that is my favourite side of his singing style but he does well with other genres of music too. This entry comes just before the release of Queen Forever and I am looking forward to it. I will be talking about the new album next week. For more on the album here is a link for you to click on. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_in_Heaven
Well, that’s about it for today. Talk to you again on Simpsons Sunday.

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