Saturday, 14 November 2009

Brian May 'Too Much Love Will Kill You'

Chart Peak: 5


If you missed this track at the time, you got a second bite of the cherry when a version sung by Freddie Mercury was released as a Queen single in 1996 (that rendition shows up on Now 33). It may be that May's decision to release his own recording of the song represented some doubt as to whether Queen's version would ever see the light of day but in any case the song is clearly quite a personal one for him; reportedly it relates to the break-up of his first marriage, in which case he evidently waited some years before putting the song out at all.

Somehow, though, even the burden of this knowledge doesn't entirely enable the song to connect with me. As might be expected, his composition and performance (on all instruments) are thoroughly competent and it's clear that a lot of work went into the arrangement and recording but the pursuit of perfection seems to have been at the expense of grit and drama. This is a problem I have with a lot of Queen records, especially their later ones, but it can be counteracted by Freddie Mercury's innate theatricality. May is a solid, hit-the-right-notes singer but not really a convincing frontman.

By the way, Wikipedia informs me that the original booklet of Now 23 misquotes the chart peak of this single. I'm only too happy to set the record straight there.

Also appearing on: Now 21
Available on: Back to the Light

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