How a dash of New Beat magic revived Freddie Mercury’s ‘Living On My Own’
“Sometimes I feel I’m gonna break down and cry
Nowhere to go, nothing to do with my time…”
Originally recorded in 1985, while Queen were taking a break from recording, Freddie Mercury’s solo album, Mr. Bad Guy, drew on the enigmatic frontman’s love of disco and dance music – a departure from the operatic rock pioneered by his band.
As Mercury explained at the time, “I had a lot of ideas bursting to get out and there were a lot of musical territories I wanted to explore which I really couldn’t do within Queen.”
Teaming up with producer Reinhold Mack, who has worked with T-Rex, ELO and Sparks (as well as Queen), the album took close to a year to put together, and reached #6 in the UK album charts, although the series of singles from the long player underperformed. Lead single I Was Born to Love You, peaked at #11, while Made in Heaven (released the same month as Live Aid) reached #57, Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow hit #76 and Living On My Own got to #50.
The latter, however, was to have a second life.
In 1992, a house rework of Living On My Own emerged on a heretofore unknown Belgian label, No More Brothers. Breathing new life into the original, it made its way onto the dancefloors of Europe, before being released as a single – making it to number one in Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom in August 1993, and going gold in the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.
While the remix was christened the ‘No More Brothers Remix’, one of the core individuals behind it was already well established in the New Beat scene – Serge Ramaekers, whose work with groups such as Confetti (behind 1988’s The Sound of C) and The Maxx (best known 1988’s controversial Cocaine) had established him as a go-to producer.
Ramaekers, who also remixed the likes of Telex and Tragic Error during his career, would go on to pen a further bona-fide Eurodance smash (if a particularly cheesy one), 1997’s Sex On The Beach, by T-Spoon.
He was also interviewed during the 2012 documentary The Sound Of Belgium, in which he spoke of the pioneering role Belgium played in the world of electronic music in the 1980s and 1990s.
Working alongside Ramaekers on the Living On My Own remix was Carl Ward, a session keyboardist for the likes of Luther Vandross, Soul II Soul, Diana Ross and Level 42; and Colin Peter, who worked with artists as diverse as Five Star, The Gipsy Kings and Divine.
The video for Living On My Own featured footage of Mercury’s 39th birthday party, at the Old Mrs. Henderson nightclub in Munich – images that had previously accompanied the 1985 release.
Released two years after his death, it would be the last posthumous single to make it to the top of the charts for close to a decade, until Aaliyah’s More Than A Woman hit the top spot in January 2002.
And close to three decades on, we still reckon it’s a belter of a track. RIP Freddie!