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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 September 2012
I first bought this album as a 12 year old back in 1988 on cassette. I wore that out. I bought it again on CD when it was issued on Hollywood Records label in the USA on import. I bought it AGAIN when the Freddie Solo Collection 10CD box set came out and I have now bought it again in this Special Edition 4-Disc Set that has, in my mind, made what was an excellent album to begin with an INCREDIBLY BRILLIANT album now!

I had no idea that the original recording was made using synthesisers almost exclusively, it was that good. Now, having heard it again with a real orchestra, I can hear things that were previously unheard. Extra depth has been given to all the songs on this CD and improved a couple of them greatly. La Japonaise was only ever an average song in comparison to the others, now with the extra "oomph" given to it with the FILMharmonic Orchestra its full beauty has finally been revealed.

My favourite song on this album, and probably my favourite of all of Freddies solo work, has also been improved, if that is possible! The Golden Boy now really jumps out at you and I love it even more.

If you have the original BArcelona LP, buy this edition and you will be blown away. If you are new to the album, you will be blown away. If you have heard it before but never really liked it, listen to this version and you will be blown away. Easily the best CD I have bought this year and full marks to the team at Universal Records for treating this with the respect Freddie deserves and not as a simple cash cow like the Queen "Special Editions" have proved to be.
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on 3 September 2012
SUMMARY - a re-recording of the 1988 album keeping the original vocals but replacing the previous musical track with an orchestral arrangement remaining 80% true to the original but with extra flourishes. Also contains an instrumental version of the re-recorded album, a CD of out takes (all of which are found on the large 2000 Freddie box set) and a DVD of songs whose original soundtracks have been replaced with the versions found in the album.

REVIEW - a real refresh of the much-loved, cult album fusing pop, rock, gospel, classical, oriental and piano music. Is this what the album would have been if Freddie had had the time or the inclination to write for an 80-piece orchestra? We will never know but, for me, this is not necessarily an improvement on a much cherished collection of songs but I loved every minute of the reinterpretation of it.

Songs like Ensueno and Guide Me Home have not been much altered with, but the title track, La Japonaise (the true treat of the original album), The Fallen Priest and The Golden Boy have been given a brand new drama and urgency. The version of Exercises In Free Love is not to be missed.

The outtakes are interesting but you'll probably only listen to them once out of curiosity. The videos are as good as ever - I love Montserrat chasing Freddie around the stage on The Golden Boy. The new edit of the Barcelona video features many rushes not seen before. The instrumentals album is punchy but obviously let down by no Fred or Monty (as you'd expect!)

As a life long Freddie fan, I loved it.

RECOMMENDED FOR - those who love the 1988 version

NOT YET RECOMMENDED FOR - those unfamiliar with the work. Buy and fall in love with the ground breaking original and hear Freddie's version first. When you know it word for word, buy this version and get ready to have your breath taken away ... again

PS 10 out of 10 for Amazon pre-ordering. Arrived on the day of release.
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on 4 September 2012
I have always loved this album. I was terribly excited when I found out about the nature of this project, having wondered for a while why no re master of the original was forth coming. When it turned up on my doorstep on the day of release (thankyou Amazon) I couldn't wait to hear the results. I had already listened to the preview on youtube, however that really didn't prepare me for the difference between the original album and this beautifully packaged jewel.

The difference the fully orchestrated music has made is tremendous. By this I don't mean that the changes are always dramatically different to the old, though on occasion they are,but its the quality of depth they add to the songs that elevate
this recording to a different level. Whilst much of the music was always very beautiful, the orchestration enriches the music and I think invites us to treat it more seriously. It is more "classical" in its nature now. It also emphasizes or reveals more the beauty of the music. Take for example the orchestrated Exercises in Free Love. Before this I hadn't realised just how lovely the music actually is. Or Guide me back.This has always been one of my personal favourites. The music is gorgeous, the lyrics heartbreaking. The new orchestrations add considerable depth and drama to this song and indeed throughout the album. I just love it.

The only quibble I have is that it would have been nice to have a re mastered version of the original album with the deluxe package.

If you have always loved this album then you will not be disappointed. If you are coming to it new, then you are in for a considerable delight. For me it really is the peak of Freddie's post 70's writing and recording.
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on 23 April 2015
I was so looking forward to this, an orchestral rendition to replace they synthesised sounds of the original "Barcelona" album, one of my all-time favourite recordings. However, I'm a bit underwhelmed. The main reason is that the orchestral arrangements are just too close to the original that the whole exercise seems completely redundant. This is a missed opportunity. The orchestrator should have utilised the medium of the orchestra to reinterpret that original soundtrack. Instead what we have is an attempt to recreate exactly what we had before, except by using an orchestra to do it. There is little re-imagining. Where are the implied counter-melodies, the up-rushing lines, the throbbing strings, the french horn choir push-throughs, the busy woodwinds, the gathering orchestral forces, the tremolando/portmanteaux/marccato strings. And perhaps even worst, is the odd sounding attempt to recreate the reverse tape of the original by, I'm guessing, reversing the strings in this new version. It sounds out of place and crude. A real live professional orchestra can do an awful lot, even in limited recording time. These are not the orchestrations of Wagner, Dukas, Elgar, Rimsky-Korsakov or Respighi, and I know that because they're all dead. Whilst I prefer this recording to the original "Barcelona", I still feel a one-off opportunity was missed.
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on 14 September 2012
Note - This Review is for Barcelona Special Edition CD Only

As a journalist who has closely followed both Queen and Freddie Mercury's career paths I was extremely eager to hear this new release.

So how do I rate it?

Mixed feelings really.

Even before I had listened to the album I was rather underwhelmed by the artwork.

Queen and Freddie Mercury were such perfectionists (control freaks actually) who personally oversaw the design of every album cover.

The cover here is lazy. Although the album notes explain how Freddie and Montserrat met etc., the whole feel and appearance looks rather shoddy. Unlike any other Freddie Mercury release.

Even the first re-release of the Barcelona album had a handsome still photo of Freddie and Montserrat strutting their stuff during the Barcelona promo video and a lovely portrait of the pair to its rear side.

So, what about the music?

There is no doubt that the 80 piece orchestra has added some va va voom to Freddie and Mike Moran's original offering, which was virtually (more on this soon!) put together via synthesisers.

However, I simply do not buy into the album and PR blurb's claims that Freddie may have felt out of his comfort zone employing the use of a live orchestra at the time of Barcelona's recording.

Indeed, Freddie had laid down vocals above orchestral music on his Mr Bad Guy album and who can forget his powerhouse performance on the Queen hit Who Wants to Live Forever?

There were a few reasons why Freddie did not use a full orchestra for the recording of Barcelona.

Time was of the essence. Freddie was extremely ill and was also obligated to start work on what he thought was Queen's last album release, The Miracle.

There was also no doubt there being a cost element of having a full orchestra - they certainly don't come cheap.

Freddie's previous solo album Mr Bad Guy had by all accounts - well according to the music executives footing the bill - been an expensive flop.

Anyhow, synthesised orchestral music is indeed highly passable - just like the real McCoy.

Most film soundtracks are recorded in this way. Composers say it totally eliminates musician error and indeed optimises the sound quality of the music - no turning of score pages, human noise, etc.,

We are getting deep here - an analogy . . . GM food . . .it tastes ok! So why shouldn't synthesised music overseen by Messrs Mercury and Moran sound ok and be left alone for evermore?

Both Queen and Freddie commonly recorded like this - the Great Pretender, The Miracle, Was it all Worth it? - to name just a few ditties.

I actually think Freddie and Mike's original offering was excellent. They did actually use various live instruments on the original release - read the album notes! And I quote - cello, harp, violin, horn, percussion . . . even John Deacon plucked bass for How Can I Go On.

We digress again.

And again you ask: What about the new music - because that is what it is - on this new 'Special Edition' release?

It's ok. It's rather safe without ever getting into fifth gear. However, some real energy and drive has been added to Barcelona, La Japonaise, Fallen Priest and Golden Boy.

But the orchestration always sounds rather like a stage musical than serious Covent Garden opera.

Exhibit one. The orchestration has been presided over by the same chap, Stuart Morley, responsible for musical direction on Queen's hit musical We Will Rock You. Apart from sounding like a prosecuting lawyer I'm also beginning to sound like a classical music prig! But I'm not. Honest.

This album is another person's interpretation or variation (maybe I am a classical prig) of existing pieces of music.

One further criticism that I feel is valid is that the orchestra does drown out both Freddie and Montserrat's vocals periodically on the album. A flaw down to the album's production? Certainly.

All in all, this release is interesting and is still a worthwhile addition to any Freddie fan's music collection.

Still add to cart!
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on 4 January 2013
I saw the programme on TV about Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe and the new Barcelona tracks re-mixed with full orchestra backing. I ordered it straightaway. All the tracks are simple AMAZING and exquisite music making. This CD should be listened to with your eyes closed as it is so moving. This is something really special which I think will still be around in decades. Jackie, Grantham, Lincolnshire.
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on 24 October 2012
bought this album yesterday and can't stop playing it, I find this album totally fantastic and brilliant to just sit there and listen to two beautiful voices.I would highly recommend this album to anyone. 10/10
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on 6 September 2012
I bought the original CD release of this album in 1992 and absolutely loved it back then. Have played it regularly over the years.

When I discovered it was being re-released to include the 80-piece orchestra, I was so excited! I ordered the album on 15th August, and was very pleased to receive it in the post on the release date.

The new orchestration is fantastic. Very subtle in some places, brilliantly bright and noticeable in others. My favourite track has always been "How can I go on?" and the David Garrett version is, strangely, a fantastic addition. The violin playing is remarkable, beautiful. I have listened to the re-worked album over and over this week, and I find the orchestration absolutely spot on. Just as Freddie would have written it.
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on 18 September 2015
Was for my grandmother and she says "It's beautiful".

I can't say anymore than that as although i love Freddie Mercury songs I find this kind of music for people who are older than my generation and not my kind of music. Hard to review music as everyone has their own tastes. You really do need to have a taste for this kind of music to be able to listen to this kind of music and enjoy it.
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on 13 September 2015
Essential part of Freddy's legacy......had not listened to it all til this year which is a crying shame because Im a big Queen fan....... Really good record which takes you back - angelic and unique even though it admittedly sits more comfortably in the pop world than it does in the classical
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