Review: QUEEN – Let Me In Your Heart Again / There Must Be More To Life Than This / Love Kills
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR MUSIC NEWS.
When Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, he left behind two decades of impeccably honed work which pushed the boundaries of studio possibilities in an age when ProTools could only be dreamt of. With a voice that could send shivers down spines, even when illness took its toll, he remains one of the quintessential frontmen of rock.
Having peddled their wares on tour with the legendary Paul Rodgers and the not-so-legendary Adam Lambert, remaining Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor (John Deacon having retired in 1997), have turned their attention to a handful of archive materials featuring their late friend to front a new compilation of love songs, Queen Forever.
Two of these feature familiar performances for anyone with a knowledge of Mercury’s solo output. Most notably, There Must Be More To Life Than This, a track from his 1985 album Mr Bad Guy, was demoed with Michael Jackson in the early 80s, but left unfinished. A bootleg of these sessions has been doing the rounds for years, but locating the original tapes, the song is now reworked into a fully fledged duet.
It almost works. Mercury and Jackson sing their hearts out, but the overly busy mix from William Orbit buries them under a cacophony of guitars, and Jackson himself is left out of the first half of the track, making his appearance feel somewhat of an intervention, rather than an equal partnership.
Much better, is the ballad reworking of Mercury’s collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, Love Kills. The track was a top ten hit back in 1984, and featured uncredited contributions from Brian, Roger and John all along, so it has long been a Queen song in all but name by diehard fans. And indeed, it has survived (and indeed thrived) in a variety of remixes whenever Mercury’s solo work has been revisited for new compilations.
Something about this song works in all of its iterations, even when they’re a little clunky – like this new mix. The track is changed so much, yet Mercury’s vocal is set in stone – with one particular line sounding particularly awkward forced into the new mix. The middle section allows some of the original instrumentation to break through, but it soon fades as the track limps on to a slightly anaemic pomp rock finale.
Finally, is the first chance to really hear new Freddie Mercury vocals, with the long rumoured Queen recording of Let Me In Your Heart Again. The track was recorded in the mid 80s, but abandoned and later reworked by Brian May as a song for his wife, Anita Dobson: indeed, she released it as a long forgotten single in 1988.
Musically, this is far superior to Brian’s later reworking, and while Freddie’s demo vocals are crisp but straining in places, when it clicks, it really clicks in that classic Queen way. Stronger backing vocals may have bolstered the mix, but the main rush here is simply hearing that incredible voice singing something new again, which hasn’t been possible since The Solo Collection cleaned out his archive in 2000.
All in all, though, these tracks don’t quite live up to the hype, but are simply serviceable reworkings designed to sell a new compilation. I’m sure they’ll do just fine, but it’s the original tracks on the album that will really have listeners reaching for it once the rush of new Queen material has died down.
Queen Forever is released on November 10th, with at least one of these tracks pencilled in for single release before then.