This album was released in 1995, four years after Freddie Mercury’s death. Mercury recorded as many vocals as he could, and told the band to finish the album after he was gone, and that’s what they did here. Imagine working on that, after he passed… Man. Accordingly, I got the sense that a lot of the songs were a form of farewell from Freddie, and homage from the band. Bittersweet, spiritual, human, and uplifting. Makes sense, and it works perfectly.
Now, I’m no Queen expert but I’m a fan, and to me this sounds like a Queen album. The songs are strong, soaring, beautiful. Lots of different approaches here, from (somewhat) cheesy keyboard forays to full-on rockers, though mostly ballad territory. Queen had a sound that was unlike any other, instantly recognizeable as Queen, and that sound is here, for sure. The songs carry extra weight, of course, but even if Freddie had lived to see this released, this would still be a solid Queen record. I’d never heard this album before this, and while it was hard to write about, I quite liked it, honestly.
I was going to go through this track by track but found that, for one of the first times ever in writing for this blog, I simultaneously couldn’t and didn’t want to do it that way. No aspersions on the record, you just have to hear it for yourself, I think, because in all likelihood it’ll mean something slightly different to every listener. Cop out? In most cases yes, but for this one I don’t really think so. It just felt right to leave it up to you. Go get your copy! There are song-by-song blurbs HERE.
One cool thing: There’s a brief intro track called It’s A Beautiful Day, then the album proper. Following A Beautiful Day reprise at track 11, there’s a track 12 of Freddie saying YEAH!, and then at track 13 there’s a 22 minute track that iTunes lists as ‘Reprise.’ It’s beautiful, very ambient, spacious, experimental, a lot of chording. Just let it play and drift away…*
It’s actually a bit of a wrench to listen to Made In Heaven, but it’s definitely well-worth the time you spend with it. RIP Freddie.
* Running at 22 minutes and 32 seconds, Track 13 was an experiment by Richards with an Ensoniq ASR-10 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 was previously only available on the CD edition of the album and the aforementioned promo cassettes.
Standard cassettes of the album end with the shortened “It’s a Beautiful Day (Reprise)”, fading out after Track 12 (“Yeah”), where this untitled track would continue on. Track 13 can be purchased also as part of the full album or as a separate piece from Queen’s official online store.
The LP (vinyl) edition of the album has only the first few seconds, which run into the run-off of the groove on the record, which actually means that if a listener has a record player which does not have an automatic stop activated at this point, it will play indefinitely, consisting only of the few seconds looped over constantly.
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 longest of Queen’s prior songs, “The Prophet’s Song” from A Night at the Opera, running a mere 8:20). The album’s last listed track (all formats) is track 11: “It’s a Beautiful Day (Reprise)”. After, 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 Track 13, which ebbs and flows for another 22:32, and ends with Mercury calling out “Fab!”
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.
In 2015, upon the re-issuing of Queen’s discography on vinyl, Made In Heaven was re-issued as a double disc set with track 13 taking up the entirety of side D. The track was given the name “13” and is listed on the artwork. (Wiki)