We are now to the final studio album by Queen called ‘Made in Heaven’ which also means this is the final review in The Studio Album Series. The album was released on November 6, 1995 almost 4 years after Freddie’s death which was on November 24, 1991. It is the only studio album from the band released with Freddie after his death so where did the music come from you might wonder. After the band finished their last album, ‘Innuendo’, which was around November 1990, Freddie was very ill due to the AIDS virus. He had his mind made up that he would sing as much as he possibly could and leave that for the band to finish at some point down the road. Normally Freddie would do the vocals after the music was done and recorded, but due to his failing health, he sang whatever he had written or the band had put in front of him to sing. He only wanted to leave these last bits of gift to the world.
The remaining members of the band, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon, tooled around on the songs for years, mostly due to Brian May heading out on tour for his solo album, ‘Back to the Light’, which coincidently is getting a Deluxe Edition released in a couple months. The band worked some of the new material Freddie had completed and they added the Queen sound to them. However, that wasn’t enough songs to complete the album so the band also dove in to their back catalog and searched for material that Freddie had sung, but was never used even dipping in to Freddie’s solo work. It was a hodgepodge of songs and that is exactly how the album feels. It is a little disjointed and not very cohesive as a complete album work. It felt like a money grab in my book, but that is only my opinion.
The album cover is a picture of Freddie’s statue that was erected in Montreux, Switzerland where the band had a recording studio that had used for years. It as the town’s way of celebrating Freddie. The picture was taken at sunset and overlooks Lake Geneva. The back cover of the CD was the remaining band members looking out upon the Alps. Now, if you got the vinyl and not the CD, your front and back cover would be the picture above which was taken at sunrise and actually had the band standing near the statue overlooking the Lake. It is a very fitting picture actually.
The first song on the album, “It’s A Beautiful Day”, was taken from a sound clip Freddie had done back during the recording of ‘The Game’. It was only Freddie’s vocals and a piano, but they reworked it into a full song adding some of May’s guitar and Deacon added some classical orchestration to give it even more punch. It is a beautiful song to kick of the album.
“Made in Heaven” was up next and was actually a song Freddie had done for his solo album, ‘Mr. Bad Guy’. The band took the vocals from that song and placed it over new music that actually had the classic Queen sound. It has May’s signature guitar sound and some heavy drums by Taylor. The original sounded more like a ballad while this version had a lot more punch to it. I’m not sure I like the fact they used a song he had actually released which tells me there really wasn’t enough material for a full album.
Then we get “Let Me Live” which was originally recorded for the album, ‘The Works’, with Rod Stewart on the vocals. The band re-worked the song replacing Stewart’s vocals with both May and Taylor. They also had to remove a piece of the original song because the backing vocal had lyrics that were too closely resembling Erma Franklin’s song “Piece of My Heart”. The song is a ballad with angelic sounding chorus of voices and hand clapping at the beginning of the song. The song is a little cheesy like most of this album as well as a little over the top. Too many slow songs to start off the album in my book.
“Mother Love” is the final song Freddie actually sang which was in May 1991. It was also the last song he and Brian wrote together. He wasn’t able to finish the vocals on the song so Brian took over the vocals on the last verse. The song is cool for a lot of reasons, one of which is it has samples from two Queen songs, “One Vision” and “Tie Your Mother Down”. Another is that it also samples a song called “Goin’ Back” which Freddie had sang on way back in 1972 and wasn’t a Queen song. The song is yet another ballad, but doesn’t feel cheesy. It has a dark overtone to it and a much more serious sound and might be one of my favorite songs on the album. Maybe knowing it is the last thing Freddie recorded adds to why I like it, but I think it is because it is that good.
The next track, “My Life Has Been Saved”, was written by John Deacon back around 1987-88 and used as the B-Side to the song “Scandal”. They re-worked the song for this release and kept Freddie’s vocals in tact. It is a little more upbeat track and feels like it could’ve been on the album ‘The Miracle’. The original version was more acoustic and this one has the full band playing. It is a decent track.
“I Was Born To Love You” was another song taken from Freddie’s solo album ‘Mr. Bad Guy’. The song on that album was with mainly vocals and piano and some synths and felt like a dance track and was added at the last minute because that album needed a single. This version was turned in to a rock track and did Brian have some great guitar moments on here and now it had some actual drums thanks to Roger instead of a drum machine on the original.
Roger had a song he tried out for the band back in 1987 called “Heaven for Everyone”, but the song was never used. Roger did use it for a band he was in and when they were in studio, Freddie came in one night and he actually recorded the vocals for the song at that session. They used the track here for this album. It is another slower track and Freddie does sound good, but the song itself is a little flat and doesn’t grab me like most Queen songs do. It feels like it wants to be inspiring, but musically and vocally doesn’t hit that mark.
“Too Much Love Will Kill You” was written by Brian May along with Frank Musker and Elizabeth Lamers. It was recorded for the album ‘The Miracle’ was actually going to be used but pulled out at the last minute due to publishing issues with the other writers so it wasn’t used. This song was not reworked at all, it is the actual recording from back in the late 80’s. It is really good song and it is another power ballad type song, but it has some heart and doesn’t feel cheesy. It is too bad it wasn’t released when it was originally intended as it could’ve been a good single for that album. Brian has a great solo in it and the band is on point.
“You Don’t Fool Me” was sort of a Frankenstein song in that the producer pieced a lot of vocal parts together from things Freddie had sung and made this song. The band came in later and built the music around it. It sounds like a dance track from the 80’s and yet this is the middle of the 90’s and grunge and we get a dance track. Okay. It does have a great beat and will get you moving, but it isn’t much of a song lyrically at all. If this was off ‘Hot Space’ or ‘The Works’ it might have been a great song. It feels a little weird here though.
Then we get another ballad with “A Winter’s Tale”. It was one of Freddie’s last songs that he wrote before his passing. It is said it is a Christmas song and it feels exactly like that. It is sentimental, airy and over-the-top. The band finished the song up and they did it like they thought Freddie would’ve wanted this one to sound like and I think they achieved that. For me, it is too cheesy sounding and there are way too many ballads on here. BUT…it is still a good song.
The official final song on the album is a reprise of “It’s A Beautiful Day” and this version is a lot more of a rocker even though it kicks off nice and slow at the beginning but you can feel it building to something bigger. They added 30 more seconds to the song, they brought in some heavier drums, mixed the vocals differently and Brian added a ton of killer riffs and fills. I guess you could say this is the 12″ Remix of the song that bands use to do back long ago.
But that isn’t all. There are two hidden tracks. The first is “Yeah” which is only 4 seconds long and is basically just Freddie saying “Yeah”. The last track is a song called “13” probably because it is the 13th track. I am not even sure you can call it a song as it is a lot of synths just holding a long note for 22 minutes. There are some guitar plucks along the way but honestly why would I want to sit through 22 minutes of synth notes. “Yeah”…uhhh…NO!!
- It’s A Beautiful Day – Keeper
- Made in Heaven – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Let Me Live – Delete
- Mother Love – Keeper
- My Life Has Been Saved – Keeper
- I Was Born to Love You – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Heaven For Everyone – Delete
- Too much Love Will Kill You – Keeper
- You Don’t Fool Me – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- A Winter’s Tale – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- It’s A Beautiful Day (Reprise) – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Yeah (Hidden Track)
- 13 (Hidden Track) – Delete
The Track Score is 6.5 out of 12 Tracks or 54%. The album did not have a cohesive feel and it shouldn’t since it wasn’t really written as an album. It was a last ditch effort to pull as many Freddie songs together as they could for one final release. And I don’t think it is one they should’ve done mainly because all these songs aren’t really up to the Queen Standard in my book. There were way too many ballads, they used two songs that were already released as Freddie solo songs and I don’t think the material was all that great to begin with. I feel they should’ve left well enough alone as I think ‘Innuendo’ was a great way to go out, but what do I know. My Overall Score is a 2.0 Out of 5.0 Stars. There were a few tracks worth having, but overall not enough to make this a must have album.
The Bonus CD kicked off with a single version for “Heaven for Everyone” and it sounds just as cheesy as the album version. They weren’t able to save it. The second was another single version and this was for “It’s A Beautiful Day”. It is full of grandeur and builds up to a nice rocker. Next we get the actual 1989 B-Side Version to the song “Scandal” with “My Life Has Been Saved” and you can hear that 80’s sound and would’ve been nice on the album ‘The Miracle’. I think this version might even be better than what’s on this album.
“I Was Born To Love You” is only Freddie and a piano. I gave the album version a 1/2 point deduction mainly because the nicked the song from Freddie’ solo album. This version though is so good with Freddie as the highlight that the deduction would’ve been removed if this was the album version. We then get a live song called “Rock in Rio Blues” and was a B-Side to “A Winter’s Tale”. It is a little blues number the band did during Rock in Rio I am assuming. Freddie hits some high notes and he is real playful to the crowd. Brian lays down some blues riffs and it is a cool little track and feels very spur of the moment. Lastly we get the Cosy Fireside Mix to “A Winter’s Tale” which takes the song to an even more cheesier level if that was possible and I am not sure why we needed another mix as the original was cheesy enough.
And there you have it the final review in the Queen Studio Album Series. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did putting them together. Next week join us for the final post in the Series…