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Reviews > Queen Music Reviews > 11-10-1995 - Made in Heaven - The Guardian


Made In Heaven (Parlophone) £13.99 - NO, THIS isn't another reconstituted oldie, like the current single Heaven For Everyone (on which Freddie Mercury's vocal was lifted from a song on drummer Roger Taylor's solo album). In the last year of his life, knowing he was terminally ill, Mercury set out to record enough new vocal tracks to leave Queen with the basis of one last album. `Write me anything, I'll give you as much material as I can,' he told Taylor, bassist John Deacon and uberguitarist Brian May. He finished not long before his death in November, 1991.

Loath to release an album too soon after the singer's demise, the surviving members completed the LP in stages over the next few years. Now the time is deemed right for release - and they're doing it in a big way. The next few weeks will see two Channel Four programmes on them, an Internet site and the launch of a `wall-mounted' box set, no less.

As Mercury only recorded when he felt able, his vocals are customarily full-speed-ahead, betraying no hint of fatigue. He sounds supple and assured. But he's truly ebullient once only - on I Was Born To Love You - and effects a more reflective tone elsewhere. As usual with Queen, the lyrics, as opposed to the music, take centre stage. Musically, Made In Heaven simply takes up where Innuendo left off, with a dash of gospeloid chanting here, a creaky outburst from one-trick guitarist Brian May there. The arch-perpetrators of arena rock, Queen re-offend lavishly. May is particularly culpable; preferring power to subtlety. He really goes to town on the self-penned Too Much Love Will Kill You, a rhinestoned Lycra blouson of a song. At least he doesn't sing it.

It's around this point, the eighth number, that the album begins to pall. When a band have the controls permanently set at full-tilt, as Queen did, burn-out is inevitable, for the listener, if not for the band. When we eventually reach the drum-crashing finale, It's A Beautiful Day, which kicks in with Mercury's umpteenth randy-rottweiler howl, it feels as if far more than 70 minutes has passed.

That's where the aforesaid lyrics save the day. Predominantly written by Mercury, they are effectively farewell notes. He poured out his heart, and his words have a throat-aching poignance. Even the record's opening verse, `It's a beautiful day/The sun is shining/I feel good', which would have seemed banal at another time, assumes a painful significance.