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Mr. Bad Guy

Freddie Mercury

℗ 1985 CBS Records CBS 86312

℗ 1985 Columbia Records CK 40071

Freddie Mercury • 1985 • Mr. Bad Guy

After 15 years at the helm of British rock legends Queen, singer Freddie Mercury finally released his first solo album Mr. Bad Guy while the band was on hiatus in 1985. As Queen's vocal signature and creative leader, it was only natural that many aspects of the group's sound would carry over into Mercury's solo work; however, the frontman still does a commendable job of stretching into uncharted territory. The synthesizers of "Let's Turn It On" announce that Queen's typical guitar heaviness will be conspicuously absent throughout the album, while extravagance will be at an all-time high. "I Was Born to Love You," the album's lead-off single, elevates '70s disco and '80s dance influences to a level of blatant pop silliness that Queen would never dare approach. Mercury also combines his acoustic piano playing with synthesizer-driven backing tracks for the beautifully dramatic "Made in Heaven" and "Your Kind of Lover," which transforms from a simple lounge number (piano and singer) into a Latin-flavored pop workout. The singer's talent for complex and original arrangements also yields multifaceted pieces like "Man Made Paradise," with its Queen-like chorused opera vocals and Brian May-esque guitar soloing, and the daring, self-mocking title track which combines a sinister bass motif, playful piano tinkling, and even big band horn arrangements. Other winners such as "There Must Be More to Life than This," "Living on My Own," and "Love Me Like There's No Tomorrow" help make this an outstanding record from start to finish. [Unfortunately, the original version of the record remains out of print on CD and the Hollywood Records reissue (under the title The Great Pretender) omits some tracks and tampers with the overall original mix.] — Ed Rivadavia.

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