Queen - Made In Heaven
NME.COM feature on Queen - Made In Heaven album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.
Release date: 07 August 2006
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Queen - Made In Heaven: Wikipedia Album Entry
Made in Heaven is Queen's fifteenth (and final under the name "Queen") studio album, released in November 1995. After Freddie Mercury's death in 1991, the remaining band members John Deacon, Roger Taylor and Brian May worked with vocals that Mercury recorded before he died, some of which after the Innuendo album, along with newly recorded lyrics by the remaining band members. Both stages of recording, before and after Mercury's death, were completed at the band's studio in Montreux, Switzerland, pictured on the cover of the album behind Mercury. The album debuted at #1 in the United Kingdom, and went four times platinum there. The album peaked at #58 in the US, going gold.
The album was recorded in a much different way from Queen's other studio albums. In 1991, months before his death, Freddie Mercury recorded as many vocals as he could, with the instruction to the rest of the band to complete the songs later. Put to tape during this time were primarily "A Winter's Tale", "Mother Love" and what would eventually become "You Don't Fool Me".
After his death, the band returned to the studio in 1993 to begin work finishing the tracks. Brian May has described in interviews that Taylor and Deacon had begun some work in 1992, while May was on tour promoting his Back to the Light album. Upon his return in 1993, May felt they were not on the right path with the music and that they more or less started from scratch with the three of them working together with producer David Richards.
On the video Champions of the World, May described these sessions with Mercury as such:
“ By the time we were recording these other tracks after Innuendo, we had had the discussions and we knew that we were totally on borrowed time because Freddie had been told that he would not make it to that point. I think our plan was to go in there whenever Freddie felt well enough, just to make as much use of him as much as possible, we basically lived in the studio for a while and when he would call and say 'I can come in for a few hours,' our plan was to just make as much use of him as we could, you know he told us 'Get me to sing anything, write me anything and I will sing it and I will leave you as much as I possibly can.' ”
With less than an album's worth to work with, the band decided to revisit previously recorded material. Whether Mercury had any input before his death as to which songs might be considered for this purpose has not been discussed by the band. The idea was to take existing songs on which Mercury sang and rework them as Queen songs. Song by song, the process and origin is described below in the "Track Listing" section.
"It's a Beautiful Day" (Queen) – 2:32
"Made in Heaven" (Mercury) – 5:25
"Let Me Live" (Queen) – 4:45
"Mother Love" (May / Mercury) – 4:49
"My Life Has Been Saved" (Queen) – 3:15
"I Was Born to Love You" (Mercury) – 4:49
"Heaven for Everyone" (Taylor) – 5:36
"Too Much Love Will Kill You" (May / Musker / Lamers) – 4:20
"You Don't Fool Me" (Queen) – 5:24
"A Winter's Tale" (Queen) – 3:49
"It's a Beautiful Day (Reprise)" (Queen) – 3:01
"Yeah" (Queen) – 0:04
"Untitled" (Queen) – 22:32
It's a Beautiful Day
Years before Freddie Mercury started recording solo material, he created a sound clip of himself messing around on the piano at Musicland Studios in Munich, 1980. It was later, for the use of this album, that the song was extended to two minutes and thirty-two seconds. The more classical section, without Mercury's improvisation, was put together by John Deacon.
In Japan, "It's a Beautiful Day" is used in the television commercial of Honda Fit.
Made in Heaven
Originally from Mercury's Mr. Bad Guy, this song, along with the other Mercury solo track "I Was Born to Love You", was given special treatment by Queen for this posthumous album. The band merely re-worked the music to a 'Queen sound,' and placed Freddie's previous vocals over the new music.
Let Me Live
"Let Me Live", is a lively rock/pop ballad which features a rare sharing of the vocals between Mercury, Taylor, and May. The song was completed in 1995 after Mercury's death.
According to some sources, the song was started off by Rod Stewart in 1976. According to others, it begun in 1983 as part of a jam he'd got with the band. It is true that Queen jammed with Jeff Beck and Stewart that year (there are photos proving it as well as an interview with Roger Taylor in 1984), but it has not been specified if Let Me Live actually started off then. Once finished in 1995 for Made in Heaven, Queen made one 11th hour change to the song to avoid legal action. Part of the backing vocals featured a lyric too closely resembling Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart". It is not known if Queen took it upon themselves to make the change pre-emptively or if their record company told them to do so. Ultimately, the potentially problematic bit was mixed out and the track was released. Promo cassettes from the USA feature the unaltered backing track. Early Mexican and Dutch CD pressings are reported to have this alternate version as well.
"Mother Love" was the last song Mercury recorded and co-wrote with May. On his website May discussed the writing process he and Mercury had (writing both separately and together, and conscious of the nature of the song and the lyrics). May sang the last verse since Mercury was unable to do so any more, as he was suffering from the bronchial pneumonia which ultimately resulted in his death.
May plays a Parker Fly guitar throughout the entire song. His Red Special guitar makes its only appearance at the 1:26 mark of the song in which a power chord and short melody lay underneath the verse. The song features a sample from a live sing along session recorded at Queen's famous 1986 concert at Wembley Stadium and a sample from "One Vision", presumedly recorded at the same concert. It also features a sample from a cover of "Goin' Back", a song written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, for which Mercury had provided lead vocals in 1972. The cover was released as a B-Side to "I Can Hear Music", a Ronettes cover, by Larry Lurex, not long before the release of Queen's debut album. There is also a sample from the introduction of "One Vision," from the 1986 album, "A Kind of Magic" and a sample of the intro of "Tie Your Mother Down", possibly also performed at Wembley, briefly being played before being fast forwarded and panned from left to right.
My Life Has Been Saved
"My Life Has Been Saved" was started as an acoustic track composed mainly by John Deacon in 1987-1988. Producer David Richards helped him out doing the demo and the keyboards, then Mercury sang on it, and later on the entire band recorded it. The Made in Heaven version is different from the 1989 one (which originally featured as the B-side to the single Scandal), although it uses the same vocals from Mercury.
I Was Born to Love You
"I Was Born to Love You" was originally recorded (piano, vocals, synths) by Mercury on 25 May 1984, for his Mr. Bad Guy album, as a late addition (when told by the record company that the album needed "a single"). May, Taylor and Deacon reworked it and added their instruments, turning the song into fast-paced rock, mainly featuring hard rock guitar from Brian May. That track became popular in Japan during 2004 when it was used for the theme song of a television drama named Pride (????). This version also contains samples of Mercury's ad-lib vocals from "A Kind of Magic", from the 1986 album of the same name, and from "Living on My Own", from his Mr. Bad Guy album.
Heaven for Everyone
"Heaven for Everyone" was a track Roger Taylor wrote and tried out with Queen in 1986, although according to some sources it was written with Joan Armatrading in mind to sing it. Whether she turned it down or Taylor withdrew his song is unclear, but it was recorded for his other band The Cross. One night Mercury came to visit The Cross at the studio and after some drinks he gave them ideas of how to sing the song and ended up recording the lead vocals for it. Mercury appeared on the UK version of their album "Shove It" as guest lead vocalist on the song, with Taylor doing backing vocals. The roles were reversed on the single and the American 'Shove It' version. Mercury's vocals were then used for the Made in Heaven release, with a couple of different lines and May singing backing vocals instead of Taylor, with producer David Richards adding several arrangement ideas.
Too Much Love Will Kill You
"Too Much Love Will Kill You" was composed by Brian May, Frank Musker and Elizabeth Lamers sometime between the Magic and Miracle sessions. They wrote it in the US and Mercury sang on it. However, there were some problems with the companies representing publishing rights for Musker and Lamers so they could not release the song properly on The Miracle. At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert May played the song on piano and sang it for the first time in public, and then released it as part of his solo album Back to the Light. The Queen version is a new arrangement. The guitar solo used differs from the one on May's album, however May played variations of the Made in Heaven solo in live renditions as early as 1992. This song was also performed by Queen and Luciano Pavarotti in 2003.
You Don't Fool Me
"You Don't Fool Me" was one of the last tracks recorded for Made in Heaven and came about in a most unusual way. May has explained on his website that producer for the band, David Richards, more or less created the framework of the song singlehandedly, building from bits of lyrics recorded just before Mercury's death. May has said that before Richards' work, there was no song to speak of. However, after Richards edited and mixed the song (including a bit of harmonies recorded for "A Winter's Tale") he presented it to the band. May, Taylor and Deacon then added their instruments and backing vocals and were surprised to end up with a finished song that had begun as nothing. The style of the song is reminiscent of their 1982 album Hot Space, and a comment over that featured on their Greatest Hits III album.
A Winter's Tale
Main article: A Winter's Tale (song)
"A Winter's Tale" is a ballad written and composed by Freddie Mercury at his apartment in Montreux, Switzerland. It is the last song Mercury solely composed entirely ("Mother Love"'s music is by Brian May).
It has since been branded as one of few Christmas songs from the band. Whether this was the intention it is unknown.
It's a Beautiful Day (Reprise)
A heavier rock version of "It's a Beautiful Day", that is the same in the beginning but later turns into rock. It contains samples from "Seven Seas of Rhye".
"Yeah" is the ending of "It's a Beautiful Day (Reprise)". It is sampled from the track "Don't Try Suicide" (The Game) and is timed at only 4 seconds.
"Untitled Hidden Track" (Track 13) was an experiment by producer David Richards with an Ensoniq ASR13 sampler. He took the opening chords of 'It's a Beautiful Day' and made them loop, and then added Mercury's voice through strange echoes. May and Taylor also added some ideas to the track. This track is only available on the CD edition of the album and the aforementioned promo cassettes. The LP (vinyl) and standard cassettes of the album end with the shortened "It's a Beautiful Day (Reprise)", fading out after the second "Yeah" (Track 12 on the CD), where this Untitled track would continue on. The Untitled Track can be purchased also as part of the full album or as a separate piece from Queen's official online store.
Track 13 created a good deal of surprise and confusion among fans, given its ambient musical nature and its sheer length, neither of which have much precedent in Queen's catalogue. The album's last listed track (all formats) is track 11: "It's a Beautiful Day (Reprise)". After the crescendo at the end of this track, Freddie Mercury is heard loudly saying "Yeah!", which at four seconds long comprises the entire Track 12. Fans took to calling this track by that monosyllabic name. The ambient music underneath this track continues into the mysterious "Untitled" Track 13, which ebbs and flows for another twenty-two-plus minutes. Two schools of thought emerged amongst fans. One was that these were to be considered not only separate tracks, but separate "songs". The second was that tracks 11, 12 and 13 were all one song ("It's a Beautiful Day [Reprise]") and that the splitting of it was a deliberate tongue-in-cheek gesture by the band. Initially, the band were content to maintain the air of mystery around Track 13. Over time, May has discussed it and shed a bit more light on it, such as the aforementioned creation by David Richards and the subsequent involvement by himself and Taylor. Musically, the three tracks (11, 12 and 13) can be played without interruption as a single twenty-five minute piece. The 22 minute length of Track 13 echoes the 22 year gap between the release of 'Made in Heaven' and 'Queen', the band's first album, with key moments in the timespan (such as Freddie Mercury's death in 1991 (18:00)) being echoed with more dramatic and eerie notes than earlier minutes in the piece. At the end, a sound resembling a cartoonish spaceship is heard, which could be signalling that Mercury has left the planet as all of his vocals have been used up. Finally, at the end of the "Untitled" Track 13, a voice is heard (likely Freddie's) saying 'Fab!'
Freddie Mercury – lead vocals, piano & keyboards
John Deacon – bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Roger Taylor – drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals
Brian May – guitars, keyboards, vocals
Extra vocal in Let Me Live: Catherine Porter
David Richards – co-production, engineering and mixing supervision
Justin Shirley-Smith – co-production and engineering
Joshua J. Macrae – co-production and engineering
Mack – recording of additional material in the 80s
Kevin Metcalfe – mastering
Richard Gray – artwork, cover photograph of Irena Sedleckas Mercury sculpture in Montreux
Country Charts Sales
Peak position Weeks Certification Sales
Argentina 1 Platinum (x4) 250.000
Austria 1 21 Platinum (x2) 100.000
Finland 1 15 Platinum 50.000
Germany 1 Platinum (x3) 1.700.000
Italy 1 Platinum (x6) 1.000.000
Ireland 1 60.000
Netherlands 1 47 Platinum (x2) 250.000
New Zealand 1 13 Platinum (x3) 50.000
Portugal 1 Platinum (x3) 120.000
Spain 1 Platinum (x2) 290.000
Sweden 1 13 100.000
Switzerland 1 31 Platinum (x3) 150.000
United Kingdom 1 25 Platinum (x4) 1.500.000
Belgium 2 33 (Fl.) Platinum
France 2 Platinum (x2) 700.000
Norway 2 17
Australia 3 13 Platinum 100.000
Japan 10 Platinum 550.000
United States 58 Gold 800.000
Canada Platinum 150.000
Czech Republic Platinum (x2) 30.000
Denmark Platinum (x2) 100.000
Hong Kong Platinum 300.000
Poland Platinum 100.000
South Africa Platinum
South Korea Platinum
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