Heavenly: A new Mercury album

Rock legends: Queen and Beatle releases featuring songs by late, great stars are set for a macabre battle, reports David Lister
A new album by the rock group Queen was launched last night featuring the singer Freddie Mercury, who died four years ago.

The launch by EMI Records in London, with an accompanying film commissioned by the British Film Institute, marks the start of a curiously macabre battle for the top of the charts, in which the late Freddie Mercury will challenge the late John Lennon for the top spot.

Queen's album, Made in Heaven, will be released on 6 November, a few weeks before the first "new" Beatles album for 25 years, which includes a new song from John Lennon, recorded in the Seventies and added to by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr with the aid of the latest recording technology.

Queen's venture takes this even further. Mercury recorded seven tracks before his death from Aids in 1991, and the surviving members of the band have added their music and backing vocals to them in the recording studio.

It amounts to the first new Queen album since Innuendo in 1991, and the 20th - and presumably last - album by the group. It is likely to be involved in a race with the Beatles' release to be the Christmas number one album.

The album's sleeve features the three surviving members of Queen with a statue of Mercury at his former home in Montreux, Switzerland. And the album contains, among with other Mercury songs, his "A Winter's Tale", in which he praises the beauties of living:

"So quiet and peaceful

Tranquil and blissful

There's a kind of magic in the air."

A single from the album,"Heaven for Everyone", was released yesterday. And a Queen "site" is being put on the Internet system for fans of the group to swap information with each other.