Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe

  • Barcelona [Hollywood, 1992] C-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Barcelona [Hollywood, 1992]
I can't deny it because I catch myself grinning--distanced by the years, and with the campy kicks magnified by a heightened awareness of Freddie Mercury's sexuality, the music of Queen has accrued the high gloss of committed kitsch, where that of Journey, say, has assumed the dull shapelessness of utter crap. Although I don't enjoy all of Classic Queen or Queen's Greatest Hits--the material's not quite that deep--they're often funny and they're also pop, oddly reminiscent of top-grade Cheap Trick. So lest anyone suspect me of sentimentalizing the dead, let me isolate this resurrected cult item, proof that you don't have to be homophobic to hate opera fantasies. Mercury's voice, unnecessarily strong and pure by rock standards, sounds like a ragged old thing up against that of a true diva well past her prime, while the diva trips over the elementary rhythmic demands of the Brian May-less material, which imparts new meaning to the concept of not quite that deep. C-