Written by @KralTunes
Anytime something new or unreleased comes from a legendary band, the anticipation tends to excite the fan base. It is a rare treat to receive such a gift from a band 40+ years into their career, much less new material from a bygone era when they were still relatively young – not so much hungry – but still somewhat creative. So count me as one of the giddy fans who squealed like a school girl when QUEEN announced the coming of new material. Of course, I let my wildest expectations get the best of me as I hoped for a full album.
Needless to say, those dreams were dashed, as we fans are treated to yet ANOTHER compilation release. This time, QUEEN showed their softer side and did share some of the promised material. Their offering? 3 new songs – 2/3 of which are not actually new, per se.
(I’m not gonna waste anyone’s time reviewing the 376 additional tracks on this release, all of which have been on multiple collections. The only thing you need to know is that these are QUEEN songs, which does render them equally flawless…now lets move on).
The first of the fresh 3 is “Let Me In Your Heart Again“, the “Loch Ness Monster” of the trio. A song that many have sworn over the years existed, but has never seen the light of day. Being a typical late stage QUEEN track, it’s mostly about love and all that mushy crap, but is still very enjoyable. Every mandatory QUEEN signature is present, from the harmonies to Brian May’s guitar tone. Plus, just hearing Mercury’s voice belt out something different after all of these years is reward enough. Fortunately, we are treated to a pretty decent song for an 80’s track that was not good enough to finish back then.
Next is “Love Kills”, which was originally a solo syntha-fied Freddie song that has now been Queen-ified for this release. An acoustic guitar opening segued into a familiar Mercury vocal take (the song has been mixed and remixed many times over the years). I have never actively sought this track out, but I have always been pleasantly surprised when I came across it. Simply put, the band did a good job with it. Although it has a more melancholy take than the original, it is not too dramatic and has a decent enough synthesizer bridge to break things up before the big finish. This version breathes new life into the song, and saves it from the dated sounds of the 1980’s original. Regardless of the arrangement, the vocals are the real centerpiece of this song. Even Freddie’s odd wailing that was tacked onto the last 10 seconds of the track (like the ghost of the frontman haunting the recording process) is a welcome addition.
Finally, the track that fans are probably looking forward to the most is one of the mythical Mercury/Jackson duets, “There Must Be More To Life Than This”. Why many are dubbing this as a long lost take is strange, considering various copies have been on the interwebs for years now. I, for one, have never been a huge fan of the track, but was at least excited at the prospect of hearing a cleaned up version. Even though I am happy to have it for my collection, this track does absolutely nothing for me and I think the mixing is the culprit.
People have been crapping on producer William Orbit’s mix for weeks now, and I must say, they are not that far off. Where the first 2 tracks sound big and clean, this one feels muddy and the vocals are just simply smothered by the instrumentation, not to mention that the entire thing is too damn LOUD. Some of the dynamics from the previous songs may have helped in this more somber piece (how jarring is that Brain May high note rotund the 2:05 minute mark?!).
So, was it all worth it? YES.
Yes, it is wonderful to hear this band come to life once again. “Let Me In Your Heart Again” is the clear winner for me with this release, followed closely by Love Kills. However, these new tracks do nothing to enhance nor tarnish the legacy that these four musicians have created. Instead these songs will be listened to over the next few weeks with a wonderful sense of nostalgia, but then become swiftly forgotten footnotes of a once brilliant career.