Freddie Mercury

Never Boring

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Arriving in the wake of the success of the 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, 2019's immaculately produced box set Never Boring showcases the solo work of lead singer Freddie Mercury. Though he only ever released one proper solo album outside of Queen, 1985's Mr. Bad Guy, Mercury did record enough individual material throughout his storied career to fill the three discs that make up this collection. Included are an 11-track special edition of Mr. Bad Guy, a nine-track edition of 1988's Barcelona -- his orchestral collaboration with opera diva Montserrat Caballé -- and a compilation disc that brings together a handful of errant solo performances, including his 1987 cover single of the Platters' "The Great Pretender." Also included are a Blu-ray/DVD with music videos and live performances, as well as a gorgeous hardcover book with pictures and quotes from Mercury, and a foreword by actor Rami Malek, who portrayed him in Bohemian Rhapsody. In one sense, Never Boring is something of a vanity box, appealing mainly to hardcore Mercury aficionados as it scrapes together just about every scrap of what could constitute his solo work. In fairness, the legendary singer just didn't record that much outside of Queen, and what he did record has largely been made available (albeit with less glamorous packaging pomp) on compilations like 1992's The Great Pretender and 2016's Messenger of the Gods: The Singles. Nonetheless, there is much to appreciate here, including Mr. Bad Guy singles like 1979's Giorgio Moroder-produced disco track "Love Kills," not to mention the powerful ballad "Made in Heaven" and the driving synth anthem "I Was Born to Love You," both of which were later reworked by Queen along with the remainder of Mercury's previously unused Queen recordings for inclusion on their final studio album, 1995's Made in Heaven. The orchestral Barcelona alone (presented here in its reworked 2012 edition) is one of the most vibrant and moving collaborations between two absolute superstars you'll ever hear. The bonus DVD offers some nice additions, including several of the live "La Nit" performances that Mercury and Caballé gave in 1988, all of Mercury's music videos, as well as his 1986 interview for Time magazine with Dave Clark. Never Boring is a loving tribute to Mercury, spotlighting his diverse solo work and presenting it all in illustrious fashion.

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