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Reviews > Queen Music Reviews > 11-07-1995 - Made in Heaven - Jerusalem Post

THERE'S nothing like death to heighten one's sensitivity to false notes, especially ones that are just a bit too bright and cheery.

Freddie Mercury was dying of AIDS in 1991 (before sympathy for AIDS victims became fashionable) when his vocals for Made In Heaven (NMC) - his band Queen's posthumously released swan song - were recorded.

The album is intended as a walloping affirmation of faith in something fine that can live on after the most demeaning of deaths.

The band managed to do a fine job as they all stared the darkness of his disease straight in the eye. For all its lush theatricality, the finished piece practically glows with integrity.

The work of this scrawny, buck-toothed, gay man might seem an odd candidate for the role of spiritual message. However, even when the lyrics merely chronicle the romances of various band members, the album consistently offers up an inspirational antidote to shame and grief.

The first single is called "Heaven for Everyone." It's not Shakespeare or even Leonard Cohen or John Lennon.

Still, when Mercury sings "these days of cool reflection," telling about how we miss the potentially heavenly boat, it gets to you.

Then there is the self-penned "Made In Heaven," in which Mercury points out that: "I'm playing my role in history/Looking to find my goal/Taking in all the misery/But giving it all my soul."

As if that's not enough, it's followed by "Let Me Live." On one level this is a plain old love song. But when you think of Mercury belting out the words "please let me live" during a period where he would come to the studio on days when he had the strength and stay home to rest on the many days that he did not, the finished result is quite awe-inspiring.

One has to admire a character like this who willed himself from the role of a total societal reject to center stage. There he acted out his most diva-like fantasies while belting out anthems like "We Are The Champions," which was eventually embraced by the most homophobic sports fans.

But Queen is not Mercury alone. His three bandmates are with him all the way on this album, as they were after his death, when they set up an AIDS charity worth more than 3.5 million that contributed, among other things, to AIDS education programs in Africa.

Perhaps all this shining nobility of purpose sounds a little odd, especially when it's linked to a string of over-the-top love songs.

But somehow Mercury and Queen's ability to make a joyful noise in the face of pain and death makes this a very comforting album to have around in shaky times.