Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Listening Mode : Mr Bad Guy

Now here’s an unfortunate choice of cover!

But anyway, speaking of Queen materiel I had never properly considered, I recently got to listen to Mercury’s somewhat forgotten 1985 solo effort.

The reason why I had never really tried before is that I do own a copy of the « Freddie Mercury Album », and – wrongly, as it turned out – assumed that it did contain the same versions of « Living on my own » and such songs, plus irrelevant filler.

Well, I was wrong on both counts.

First, the 1985 album actually boasts very different mixes for songs that eventually appeared on the 1992 compilation.

While the 1992 compilation features rather embarrassing club mixes for « Let’s turn it on » and « Living on my own », the early-to-mid-eighties-pop fan can only approve of the way the original songs were produced : no cheesy 1992 techno beat, but steady 1980 synth bass lines, inventive instrumentation (the modern jazz solo on « Living… », some badly twangy guitars…) and Mercury’s soul-filled vocals.

The same is true about « Your kind of lover », much more primitive and 1950’s rock n’roll-esque than its clubbish 1992 remix.

The title track hasn't changed that much, except for that sophisticated orchestral outro reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s « The Trial ».

As for the songs that didn’t made it on the 1992 compilation, some obscure gems are also to be found.

« Made in Heaven », obviously, was heard afterwards on the ultimate Queen album, reworked in full electric extravaganza. The original version is more down-to-earth and quite beautiful.

But the songs that truly made my day are the two Lennon-esque, bittersweet ballads, « There Must Be More To Life Than This » (charmingly naïve, and aptly conceived for Michael Jackson) and especially « Love me like there’s no tomorrow », a cleverly written and arranged ballad with breathtaking vocals.

All in all, this 1985 came as a good surprise, and I do regret not having paid more attention before.

Needless to say, the album is hardly reissued these days, and that’s a waste, because this would be a far more interesting thing to do than to put out compilation after compilation.

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