Freddie Mercury stands, almost in silhouette, facing a beautiful scene of snow-capped mountains and a lake. He's in his classic pose, with one fist in the air. To one side, Deacon, May and Taylor stand huddled in a group as if they were at a funeral. But is it really Freddie? No, it's a statue of him - this is Made in Heaven, Queen's last album. Freddie has died. His fellow band members have got together one last time to make a Queen album, using recordings Freddie made during his last illness.
It's a wonderful album. There's nothing unfinished about it. Almost all the tracks feature Freddie Mercury throughout. In a few, it was necessary to record a few lines sung by another band member. In at least one place, there is a switch in the middle of a line. Mercury sings the start of the line while a different singer finishes it. This is done seamlessly, so you'd hardly notice.
Because everybody knew that Freddie had not long to live, they didn't want to take time out to write new songs, so some of the songs on this album are covers of old material: 'Too Much Love' is from Brian May's solo album Back to the Light, and 'Heaven for Everyone' is from Shove It by Roger Taylor's band The Cross. Nevertheless, Freddie really makes them his own.
In keeping with the natural beauty of the cover photo, there's a very strong theme running through the album, of the beauty and wonder of this world, and of heaven - a heaven on Earth. Songs in this vein include:
- 'It's a Beautiful Day'
- 'Made in Heaven'
- 'My Life Has Been Saved'
- 'I Was Born To Love You'
- 'Heaven For Everyone'
- 'A Winter's Tale'
Of course, it's not all sweetness and light. Songs with a darker meaning include:
- 'You Don't Fool Me'
- 'Mother Love'
- 'Let Me Live'
- 'Too Much Love Will Kill You'
The album is nicely framed by opening and closing with two versions of the same number: It's a Beautiful Day. Strangely, it doesn't end there. If you leave it playing, there's nearly 30 minutes of extra sound, although it could not really be described as music. There are faint long chords, swelling sounds, growing and fading, with snatches of lyrics and guitar-playing. This has been described as 'New Age Ambiance'.
Freddie Mercury died on 24 November, 1991. His singing of the bittersweet 'Too Much Love Will Kill You' will bring tears to your eyes.