Made In Heaven

Queen

Hollywood Records, 1995

http://www.queenonline.com/

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/12/1998

Posthumous releases have always been a messy situation. At what point does it stop being a tribute and turns to crass commercialism and grave-robbing? The answer is never easy -- especially when the person who dies is truly irreplaceable and unique (like John Lennon or Stevie Ray Vaughan). To further deepen the wound, many times the person dies without a warning -- a victim of freakish coincidences. This leaves the fans and bandmates without a chance to truly say goodbye.

That's probably what makes Queen's final album of new material interesting. Lead singer Freddie Mercury and the rest of his bandmates KNEW he was dying of AIDS. They knew that touring and live concerts were out of the question; that future albums would never be. So after finishing their previous album ( Innuendo), the band went back into the studio and worked around Freddie's failing health. Rather than succumbing to their worst fears, they worked whenever possible and laid down the songs that would become my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Made In Heaven.

Probably because of their situation, a lot of the songs deal with life, death, love, loss and betrayal. The album begins with the quiet "It's A Beautiful Day" -- which slowly builds to Freddie singing "And no one's gonna stop me now, mama." It seems like an act of defiance to the disease that is slowly killing him -- his enjoyment of the simple sunrise. The song is actually remixed to end the album and concert sounds are added as well as the "Seven Seas of Rhye" riff.

Other songs that deal with the life and death struggle are: "Let Me Live" which brings a gospel choir in the background and is sung by the three singing members of Queen (Mercury, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor); "My Life Has Been Saved," and "Mother Love" (the last song Freddie did before his death). They manage to be both uplifting as well as thought-provoking. This IS, after all, a man who is dying telling us that he wants to go back inside of the womb. Also, "Too Much Love Will Kill You" seems to be prophetic as well as a reminder of what happened to Mr. Mercury.

However, the album does not only linger on the downside of his situation. Freddie manages to come back and sound positive and uplifting. "Made In Heaven" reminds us to not always look down when life is bad -- sometimes looking up helps. Meanwhile, "I Was Born To Love You" brings in their massive sound and flings us back into Queen's pop heyday. "You Don't Fool Me" is another reminder that this band was able to do what it wanted. May, Taylor and bassist John Deacon are all in top form here and throughout the album. Finally, on "A Winter's Tale," Mercury brings in his opera voice and tells of the beauty of nature's landscape when it is covered in white. He sounds very reflective on this song and that may get to you.

It is really a shame that Queen seems to be taken by many in the States as a band that put out only a few hits. (Note to their record company: Stop putting out compilation albums and put out a boxed set!!!) The band was much more than the sum of its parts and more than just a few songs. As demonstrated by the Tribute Concert that followed his death, Freddie Mercury had one hell of an influence on the world. The band did the right thing by going their separate ways after his death. You can't replace a Freddie Mercury.

Made In Heaven is a pop swan song from one of rock's biggest names. If you are willing to take a trip like few others, I highly recommend it.

Rating: A

User Rating: B+


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© 1998 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hollywood Records, and is used for informational purposes only.