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Customer Review

26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Variations on Freddie Mercury Pieces, 14 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Barcelona [Special Edition] (Audio CD)
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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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Sep 2012 00:32:33 BDT
Very good review. You obviously know your Queen and Freddie.

Dunno if you'll agree but you can hear the love that went into this album. That said, I posted the first review of the product and don't consider this as an improvement necessarily. I agree with all your points about disagreeing that this is "the album as it should've been."

If I had to take a version to a desert album, it'd be the original. People should listen to that first to hear the real Freddie. Follow that up with this as a really enjoyable "tribute" version.

Posted on 4 Oct 2012 11:56:13 BDT
Graham says:
A thoughful and truthful review. Its interesting to listen to but I don't think anyone was shouting out for this to be done to an album that sounded fine.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Oct 2012 12:00:07 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Oct 2012 12:01:06 BDT
Graham says:
@ Marcus Jack T Cannon - Does another person's review have to improve on your own for them to publish?! The more people who agree or disagree simply gives a more rounded view of the product to allow others to make an informed purchase. I hope my comments are viewed constructively and meet with the high standards that you have set the rest of us.

Posted on 4 Nov 2012 15:22:46 GMT
Great review, 'James' - and yes, the cover is dire and cheap and nasty and wd never have been approved by Freddie. Will probably source the original Barcelona rather than fork out on a bells and whistles marketing exercise. Same for 'Revolution in the Head' Harry Hill review of Beatles books this weekend - great original, atomospheric cover; revised edition rubbish!

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2012 08:04:07 GMT
Apologies, Graham. I wasn't seeking to compare my review to yours. Having re-read my reply to you, I can see how it may have come across that way - sorry for that.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2012 03:14:47 GMT
Graham says:
No sweat - its all good.

Posted on 20 Dec 2012 11:53:01 GMT
cookie says:
an excellent review and as i can see your a ''proper fan'' i will respect it, i myself am i 30 year mad Queen fan, own everything and seen live countless times, in all honesty though i loved it, i thought it better than the original and the full orchestra gives it that finishing touch compared to the original, even the sound of real drums ( provided by Rufus, Taylor's son ) doesn't sound as polished as the original but yet sounds exactly what it is ''Real''. The great thing about Queen & Freddie is opinion and there music split fans opinions through out there whole career ( i mean remember Hot Space !! ) i love the new version and find nothing more Therapeutic than a bottle of red, feet up and treating my ears to this classic new version. again great review though mate and fully respect your opinion. ( totally agree about the cover, awful )

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jul 2013 13:56:22 BDT
As a massive queen fan and still in the fan club ,and very active with it. I just bought the cd,I have the original although the original is what it is! I think this sounds great ,We went to Montreux with the fan club in 2009 to meet Montserat,that was an experiance, that was.The cover is a bit naff,but Rufus and the guys sound great. No one is going to agree about everything goodness knows the debates weve had at conventions. So I would say buy it,just my opinion
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