Almost a year after the devastating death of Freddie Mercury, Queen's Brian May re-emerged with his first true solo album. Released in September 1992, Back to the Light was the guitarist's mission statement after the fate of his longtime band seemed uncertain. On August 6, Back to the Light will be reissued by UMe in CD, LP, and digital formats as the inaugural release in The Brian May Gold Series. Expanded editions will include the bonus collection Out of the Light, a second disc of rare tracks.
The reissue will arrive in the following formats:
- Collector's Edition box set (1 white 180-gram vinyl LP, 2CD) with 32-page book, 12" art print, download card, and enamel badge;
- Limited Edition of above box set with signed 12" print (available exclusively at Queen's online store);
- 1LP black 180-gram vinyl (Original Album Only);
- 1LP Picture Disc (exclusive to Queen's online store);
- 1CD (Original Album Only);
- Cassette; and
- Digital formats.
The April 20, 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert found Queen surrounded by an electrifying array of performers (including Elton John, Metallica, U2, Guns N Roses, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Robert Plant, George Michael, Ian Hunter, and Liza Minnelli) to pay tribute to the late frontman. May introduced "Too Much Love Will Kill You" onstage that evening and would subsequently include the song on Back to the Light. While written about the dissolution of May's first marriage and blossoming of his second, the song took on added resonance at the Mercury tribute. It would become one of two hit singles off Back to the Light. (Queen's rendition with Freddie's lead was posthumously released in 1995.)
"Too Much Love Will Kill You" reached No. 5 on the U.K. Singles Chart and became a major hit throughout Europe. It later netted May an Ivor Novello Award for excellence in songwriting. "Driven by You" was almost as successful, peaking at No. 6 in the U.K. and also charting throughout Europe as well as in the U.S. where it hit No. 9 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Other tracks on Back to the Light include "Just One Life," a tribute to actor Philip Sayer who died of cancer in 1989, a cover of the Small Faces' "Rollin' Over," and the powerful instrumental "Last Horizon." The album, featuring musical contributions from Cozy Powell, Don Airey, Mike Moran, Chris Thompson, and Queen's John Deacon, reached No. 6 on the U.K. Albums Chart.
The new second disc, Out of the Light, collates eleven rarities including instrumental "Guitar Versions" of "Too Much Love Will Kill You," "Just One Life," and "Nothin' but Blue;" the Ford advertisement version of "Driven by You;" live recordings from Brixton Academy, Los Angeles' Palace Theatre, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; and more. (Note that all of the various B-sides issued at the time are not included including various mixes of "Driven by You" and a live version with Cozy Powell of "Back to the Light" from The Tonight Show.)
The long out-of-print album returns to various formats as remastered by Bob Ludwig under the supervision of May's original co-producer/engineer Justin Shirley Smith (a Queen collaborator since 1984) and Kris Fredriksson. Miles Showell has remastered the LP using the half-speed mastering process at Abbey Road.
Brian May has written new liner notes for this release saluting the late Cozy Powell and also reflecting on his personal journey as expressed through the album's songs. Back to the Light kicks off The Brian May Gold Series and as such will include a gold stamp on the packaging. You'll find the track listing below, and all editions are due from UMe on August 6.
Brian May, Back to the Light (Parlophone 0777 7 80400 2 6, 1992 - reissued UMe, 2021)
2CD/LP Box: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
1LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
CD 1/LP (Original Album)
- The Dark (May)
- Back To The Light (May)
- Love Token (May)
- Resurrection (Words: May. Music: May, Powell, Page)
- Too Much Love Will Kill You (May, Musker, Lamers)
- Driven By You (May)
- Nothin' But Blue (Words: May. Music: May, Powell)
- I'm Scared (May)
- Last Horizon (May)
- Let Your Heart Rule Your Head (May
- Just One Life (May)
- Rollin' Over (May)
CD 2/LP 2: Out of the Light
- Nothin' But Blue - Guitar Version (May, Powell, Makin, Nicholls) (from Parlophone single 7243 8 80380 7 2, 1992)
- Too Much Love Will Kill You - Guitar Version (May, Musker, Lamers) (from Parlophone CD single 7243 8 80199 2 7, 1992)
- Just One Life - Guitar Version (May) (from Parlophone 12" single 20 4586 6, 1991)
- Driven By You Two (May) (from Parlophone CD single 7243 8 80662 2 8, 1993)
- Driven By You - Ford Ad Version (May) (from Parlophone 12" single 20 4586 6, 1991)
- Tie Your Mother Down (Featuring Slash) (May) (Live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 5th April 1993) (from Parlophone CD single 7243 8 80662 2 8, 1993)
- Too Much Love Will Kill You (May) (Live at the Palace Theatre, Los Angeles, 6th April 1993) (from Parlophone CD single 7243 8 80663 1 7, 1993)
- '39 / Let Your Heart Rule Your Head (May) (Live at the Brixton Academy, 15th June 1993) (from Live at the Brixton Academy, Parlophone 7243 8 28589 2 8, 1994)
- Last Horizon (May) (Live at the Brixton Academy, 15th June 1993) (from Live at the Brixton Academy, Parlophone 7243 8 28589 2 8, 1994)
- We Will Rock You (May) (Live at the Brixton Academy 15 June 1993) (from Live at the Brixton Academy, Parlophone 7243 8 28589 2 8, 1994)
- Driven By You - Cozy and Neil Version '93 (May) (from Parlophone CD single MAYDJ1, 1993)
Queen Tribute says
Back to the Light is one of my favourite albums. It comes in for some criticism by certain Queen fans but I have a huge soft spot for the album, as it has sentimental value to me. Freddie had just died when this album was released and I had just started getting heavily into Queen. Some really strong songs on this album and the 2021 re-issue is very interesting.