But first, a bit about "Innuendo" as a whole album, not just a song. I find that Freddie Mercury's vocals are (as it has been described before by someone who was a casual fan / listener and paid to review the album) is thin and he reaches soprano heights I've not heard from him since Queen's first album & back then he was fuller a singer. "My Fairy King" & "Doing All Right" come to mind. The songs would've been drastically changed live in concert, Freddie going as far back as his days in Wreckage (pre-Queen) was never able to sing live and reach the notes he does in the studio.
Could you imagine "The Show Must Go On" or "I Can't Live With You" or especially the falsetto of "Don't Try So Hard" being sang mid range? Sorry but I can't. "Headlong" & "The Hitman" are the only two songs from "Innuendo" that might not have suffered the mid-range fate live in concert. However, "Delilah", "I'm Going Slightly Mad" & "All God's People", are probably the easiest song on "Innuendo" to sing for Freddie in concert is probably choices that perhaps the band would've preferred piano instead of the synths live in concert? The last non synth album was 1978's "Jazz" and I prefer "Jazz" over "Innuendo" any day of the week.
As for "Made In Heaven", I'm surprised it was released without "State Of Shock" & "There Must Be More To Life Than This" both with Jackson and why not? Both songs although deemed demos were both finished and complete at the time. "My Life Has Been Saved" was best left off "The Miracle" it wouldn't have fit the 1989 release at all, in my humble opinion and the song was my first favorite from "Made In Heaven". I find it easily a song that captures Freddie telling the truth about his illness although he never sings "I have AIDS" but clearly it is the biggest clue regarding the state of Freddie back in 1989 when he appeared physically okay, unlike the "Innuendo" era and soon after.
"It's A Beautiful Day" Parts One & Two are both excellent and the latter track that almost closes "Made In Heaven" along with the less than a second track "Yeah" would've surely been a great song to open a Queen concert? Freddie, spotlight on him as he sat at a grand piano, no one else but Mercury slightly changing the song to suit the mood of the crowd and him, it would've been awesome no doubt.
"Let Me Live" was marred by the Janis Joplin attorney's here in the USA not too long after "Made In Heaven" was released in full for the line "take another piece of my heart" was as the attorneys claimed, taken from Joplin's signature song "Piece Of My Heart". Other than the words being the same though, there is no other similarity between the two, however, it would've been interesting to hear Freddie perform the song live, perhaps singing a bit of Joplin's version yes? As a result of the complaint and threat of a lawsuit, another version of "Let Me Live" was reportedly released in the states without the Joplin line but to date, I've never heard it nor have I found it anywhere online too.
"Mother Love", as popular a song as it is, I believe it should've never been included with Brian finishing the vocals and especially with the sound bites of "Live In Wembley '86", "Going Back" & the baby crying. Freddie didn't bother reaching into the stratosphere with his vocals either on this track as well as the rest of the "Made In Heaven" release which makes the whole album more realistic to believe in concert versions, unlike 1991's "Innuendo". However, despite writing that and the next will seem contradictory, but knowing now that Freddie was dying during the recording process of "Innuendo" into "Made In Heaven", "Mother Love" is perhaps the finest piece of original Queen music since 1991's "The Show Must Go On", in my humble opinion and easily the best most brutally honest track on "Made In Heaven".
"Made In Heaven" the song is simply awesome, Freddie positively shines better than the solo version with Brian, Roger & John on board providing accompaniment to give "Made In Heaven" the signature Queen sound while staying true to the original. But again, had he lived, could Freddie have reached those soaring high notes live in concert? I doubt it. Other than the "Live At Wembley '86" "Improv" jam, there is no other live performance of Freddie reaching the higher notes at any time during his career that I am aware of and I've listened to dozens of bootlegs and all the official releases of live music to make my claim have some guts.
"I Was Born To Love You" just like the single "Made In Heaven" bears no resemblance to Queen despite the whole song being re-recorded by the rest of the band only using the original vocals and I find the production is awesome and as the 1985 release on "Mr. Bad Guy" equally as good, but both are miles apart different from each other and listening to the differences is easier than writing about it I suppose.
"A Winter's Tale" is above being a lounge lizard type song but I could easily imagine Freddie alone at a piano live in concert in a small club over a stadium giving this song a proper not by the number - ad-libbing performance of this and although it's a fine song to end "Made In Heaven" I would've preferred a piano - vocals only version of this song instead of the synth heavy version I've come to enjoy.
"You Don't Fool Me" is one song that would've fit right in on "Innuendo" for Freddie's vocals during this song are in that high stratosphere so well known and prominent on the whole "Innuendo" release. The song is easily the best dance rock song since "Another One Bites The Dust" was released in what seems like eons ago. Was "You Don't Fool Me" released as a single here in the USA? I honestly don't know but I can imagine countless inhibitionless women freestyling to the jumpin-humpin-thumpin-beat provided by Roger and the bass of John along with Brians most heavy rock influenced solo on the entire "Made In Heaven" album. This song best represents Queen as a live act out of all the songs on "Made In Heaven" despite the drastic change in Freddie's vocals during his final project with Queen at the time.
"Too Much Love Will Kill You" I was first introduced to this tender ballad when Brian alone with an electric piano at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert and to this day, although it's a great emotional song sang not only by Brian but Freddie, well, it really was a emotional downer and not a highlight at the tribute concert. Don't get me wrong, it's great song but that night in front of 86,000 loving fans, it didn't fit in at all in my humble opinion. Recently, I've heard Freddie's version with Roger's "The Cross" band and prefer that version over any other release of the song for some reason. Freddie's vocals here best represent a time when he was recognizable as a singer of their greatest hits but is crossing over into new era Freddie due to AIDS/HIV in my humble opinion, interfering with his voice at the time.
Last but not least, track "13" or otherwise known as "Gimme the beer", Freddie's only vocals during the near 20 minute synth drone that never changes. As to why it was released instead of some of the Freddie songs that were made before AIDS/HIV got the best of his singing capabilities is unknown to me. "When This Old Tired Body Wants To Sing" a late night jam, a cutoff of Freddie scatting and playing piano would've surely been more appropriate than "track 13" perhaps? I think so, the late night jam best represents Freddie in the studio and it best represents Freddie's vocal as he shared with an audience, finally captured in an impromptu jam, no audience so Freddie's vocals and piano playing are front and center, unhindered by the sounds of a happy live crowd sometime around the "Barcelona" project.
Well, I could go on but in closing, "Made In Heaven" is a masterpiece of ingenuity and musicianship by all members of Queen especially since "Made In Heaven" is after Freddie Mercury's final days.
Really good review. I agree wholeheartedly about most things.
I don't believe You Don't Fool Me would have set well on Innuendo though, and of course Freddie stretches himself on Mother Love... the middle eight soars and breaks your heart. His last recorded vocal.
I don't think it's a perfect album by any stretch, but it's a nice coda.