Freddie Mercury

The Great Pretender

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From all appearances, The Great Pretender would seem to be a collection of tracks from Freddie Mercury's Mr. Bad Guy album with various additional rarities. And that it is, but what is not made clear from looking at the track listing is that almost every song on this compilation has been remixed, sometimes quite drastically, from the original version. Thankfully, the music is still strong and in some cases arguably has been improved by the remixes. However, the fact that the tracks have been altered, obviously without the authority of the late Freddie Mercury, will put off some fans. The two pieces that Mercury recorded for the Time musical ("Time" and "In My Defense") have not been altered too much, and these hard-to-find ballads and the cover of "The Great Pretender" are the major selling points of the album, given the fine, dramatic performances given by Mercury. The material from Mr. Bad Guy has been altered far more, however, with added techno beats and heavier guitars. In fact, on these tracks there's very little remaining of the original music. However, the changes are still interesting musically, and enough people liked the raved-up version of "Living on My Own" that it hit number one on the U.K. singles chart. With added heavy guitars, "Mr. Bad Guy," "Love Kills," and "My Love Is Dangerous" are far more ominous than their original versions. All in all, for Queen fans the music here deserves a listen, even if it isn't in the versions Mercury originally intended. [The Freddie Mercury Album, released one week earlier in the U.K., is basically the same album except for the substitution of "Barcelona" for "My Love Is Dangerous."]

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