Made in Heaven was the last original album (i.e., not a collection) to be released by the British rock outfit Queen. Released in 1995 to a mixed reception from music critics,
some of whom claimed it was "macabre", the album was intended as a final tribute to the band's charismatic front-man, Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in November 1991.
The album is one of Queen's most eclectic, covering a range of musical styles from the brooding tones of the title track, to the achingly beautiful ballad A Winter's Tale. Some of the songs were covers of Freddie's solos from the eighties, such as Made in Heaven and I Was Born to Love You, others covered solo work by Brian May (Too Much Love Will Kill You
from his album Back to the Light) and Roger Taylor (Heaven for Everyone). Others were original tracks recorded right up until Freddie's final, painful days.
The album clearly demonstrates the band's commitment to technical perfection, and is magnificently well-recorded and mixed. The choice of songs, too, was made carefully to demonstrate Freddie Mercury's optimistic attitude to his approaching mortality. Indeed, the only truly sad song is
Mother Love, the last vocal track Freddie ever laid down, recorded almost literally on his death-bed. Its strained, deep vocals and pleading lyrics (I can't take it if you see me cry / I long for peace before I die) are matched by the song's theme of rebirth - indeed, in a unique touch the final part of the song is a montage of some of Queen's greatest moments, concluding with an excerpt from
Goin' Back, the first vocal track Freddie ever laid down. Other musical
highlights include the upbeat gospel sounds of Let Me Live and the
early-90's beats of You Don't Fool Me - indeed, the latter was the
band's attempt to update itself to fit in with the new decade, much as they had
done so, with great success, in the 80's.
The album's sleeve contains three photographs of Freddie with his band-mates, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon, who each selected their favourite photo. The final words in the
sleeve credits were all that was required for the band to record its gratitude for Freddie's energy and commitment - "Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Freddie Mercury".