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PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FORUM IS TAKEN FROM PREVIOUS VERSION OF QUEEN SONGS SITE.
Path: Queen Songs - Forum - Song Analysis: Recording ProcessBookmark and Share

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Bruno: Recording Process16 Apr 2004 22:41
I'm interested in recording process of Queen's more complex song in pre Mack era. I wonder if all tracks were recorded in one go, or part by part (like One Vision). I seriously doubt that songs like Father to son, Fairy Feller, Black Queen, Brighton Rock, Millionaire, and so one were recorded in one go? Or am I wrong?
1.Sebastian 17 Apr 2004 02:52
Piano bass and drums were one take, but not neccesarily the first. Of course the plan was that the first take should remain, because the "feeling" would be lost in seconds and thirds and stuff. So for songs like Fairy Feller`s Fred (and the others) had everything meticulously planned, and the backing track had been already rehearsed tons of times, so when they came in the studio they did the take and then they added overdubs (in this case castanets, harpsichord, guitars, vocals and handclaps)
2.BrianMay 17 Apr 2004 02:57
Yeah, One vision was one of the songs that was really written (Most of it) in the studio, Thats why they recorded it in parts, I guess that a lot of the songs after A Kind of Magic were done the same way
3.Sebastian 17 Apr 2004 03:14
> According to Brian and/or Roger a big percentage of Miracle`s and Innuendo`s
> backing tracks were first takes
I wonder how did they manage to supress the crosstalk when recording instruments simultainously. I know the Innuendo track "suffered" from some crosstalk that they could hardly hix out.
4.BrianMay 17 Apr 2004 06:22
interesting
5.Sebastian 17 Apr 2004 15:33
The thing about `One Vision` is that we definitely can`t judge the band was like that all the time. It was Fred`s idea to go and write a song together, so they "had to" discuss lyrics and all of that, moreover they were being filmed so they did their best to "steal focus", like Brian playing piano (which he admitted didn`t do very often, but he chose to do it precisely while they were being filmed, interesting...), or Freddie supervising the recording parts of Roger and Brian (whilst in some songs that weren`t filmed he just came in the studio, sang his part, played his keyboard and left), or Roger "conducting" the guitar at some point. Some photos from that same session show Roger on bass and John on synths, perhaps with "stealing focus" purpose too. I guess those parts were filmed too but in the edition they just left the "exhibitions" from the two "more popular" characters.

22 songs in The Miracle (out of about 30) came in the first two weeks when they were just playing in the studio, the four of them, in a guitar/piano/bass/drums line-up. Innuendo was also an album with a good number of "live" tracks, obviously based in a demo by the author, like Headlong or I Can`t Live With You.
6.Bruno 17 Apr 2004 15:40
You've got good point about One Vision. But, are you sure that Brighton Rock could have been done in one go ? I mean, is there some ryhtm guitar that was edited out later ?
7.Sebastian 17 Apr 2004 17:25
No, in fact one of my post, or many of them, expose that Brighton Rock must be one clear exception of the "one take backing track" thing
8.BrianMay 18 Apr 2004 02:57
Yeah, note what Brian says on the GVH1 DVD  "The take was the take" He ofcourse doesn't mean that only first takes were used. But he means that they used one take, and not all different takes pasted together, If someone made a little mistake (like a glitch on the piano or whatever) if would stay that way and they wouldn't use the bits from other takes. I'm pretty sure when they transferred to Digital Recording the backing track did sometimes (not always) came from one, or more takes.
9.Sebastian 18 Apr 2004 04:08
Yeah but the objective was to do the first take right, because on repetitions they would loose the feeling. Of course sometimes someone could black out or make a big mistake and they had to do another take, but they wanted to avoid the situation. But of course they were humans and most times they had to do more than one take until the piano-bass-drums 8-track package was right.
10.BrianMay 20 Apr 2004 15:26
yeah
11.PD 23 Apr 2004 20:47
> According to Brian and/or Roger a big percentage of Miracle`s and Innuendo`s
> backing tracks were first takes
I wonder how did they manage to supress the crosstalk when recording instruments simultainously. I know the Innuendo track "suffered" from some crosstalk that they could hardly hix out. On the Game tracks ou cannot hear much crosstalk.
12.Sebastian 25 Apr 2004 04:58
I remember David Richards mentioned that you could hear drums in Fred`s vocal tracks of the post-Innuendo sessions.
13.Sebastian 03 May 2004 09:58
Some comments regarding backing tracks throughout the discography:

I: My Fairy King was written at the studio, which is surprising considering how clever this song is. Seven Seas... is very notably a one take, except for the double tracked guitar (which I sometimes suspect can be just an ADT trick). All the other tracks (except Doin` All Right) were the band`s live set, so it`s understandable that they recorded backing tracks live. I guess the piano version of Doin` was born in the recording sessions. I`m a little intrigued about its backing track though, since either piano or rhythm guitar perdure during all the song. I guess this is the (first and only) case in which they edited out some parts, but needed them to guide the other instruments. I`d guess the backing track was done with guitar instead of piano, because otherwise Brian would have had difficulties playing the fast part. Either that or they did the backing track with both instruments (Freddie playing piano), but that contradicts Brian`s quote and credit, unless Brian just played an overdub (e.g. the ending). Difficult to know anyway

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II:

The album was recorded in one month, which gives me the idea that they must have had all or most of the arrangements before hand, and they didn`t experiment so much. They just went into the studio and did what they had to do. Then I`d imagine Freddie already had a piano in his flat or something, because otherwise how could he rehearse.

I guess Procession`s guide track was simply a bass-drum loop, and/or perhaps a rough one-guitar arrangement of the piece, to be taken out later. Father To Son was perhaps done in different sections and then they mixed them together.

I guess Fairy Feller`s was done in piano and not harpsichord since the latter plays much more "lead" stuff than truly harmonic support.

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SHA:

Brighton Rock must have been done in sections. I wonder about many of the songs here: Tenement Funster for example. Apparently John played the acoustic, but in the backing track he must have been playing bass. And the piano isn`t there all the time. So either there`s a full-length piano track that they edited out many part off later, or Brian`s clean electric guitar was recorded live with the other three.

Misfire is a difficult case: John played acoustic, electric and bass. So how was the backing track done? Similar case about She Makes Me, in which - apparently - John played acoustic guitar. But then the bass should be an overdub... who knows

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ANATO:

Death On Two Legs intro must have been recorded separately since Fred took many attempts until got the piano part right. You`re My Best Friend was with John at the piano instead of bass, I guess. Note there are sometimes two basses at the same time, as well as overdub piano bell-like tones (or are they guitarchimes? sometimes I do wonder...)

I agree BoRhap must have been done live, note the piano playing sounds very ... live, and not a combination of different takes. Good Company was, I think, with ukelele, and again (as in Father To Son) the intro should have been recorded separately, or the ukelele was taken out in the first two chords.

`39 I think Brian recorded one of the two acoustic rhythm and then overdubbed the other. Sweet Lady ditto (but in this case electric). Prophet`s Song must have been in sections. God Save The Queen... god knows. I`m In Love With My Car... apparently there are guide guitars by Roger, so that confuses me somehow. Love Of My Life is most likely just piano, then the others added the rest (note there are two basses at some points). Bo Rhap has piano in the first part, but in the mix it was deleted

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ADATR:

The overture could have been done similar to Procession. How was Drowse done is beyond me (Rog plays timpani, drums and electric guitar). Maybe he put a click or something. You And I has an amazing live feeling in the piano, bass and drums, as well as Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy. Millionaire Waltz has piano edited out at some points.

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NOTW:

Sheer Heart and Fight From The Inside - no idea. Who Needs You - perhaps it was John playing guitar and the others doing percussion. My Melancholy Blues - probably everything, including vocals, is the same take, because it`s hard to follow the melody unless you`re playing at the same time.

Note that It`s Late hasn`t got double tracked (main) guitar, it just has stereo delay.

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Jazz:

Wonderful live feeling in Don`t Stop Me. Dead On Time - ditto. Both Roger`s songs were probably done in loops. Leaving Home - I sometimes think there`s only one acoustic, recorded simultaneously via mic and amp so both channels sound different

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The Game:

The CLTCL rhythm guitar was, in my opinion, just one, done in a similar way as Leaving Home. Rock It, Dragon Attack and Coming Soon are done in loops, I guess Another One Bites The Dust too.

This album has repairing of backing track for the first time, so it`s possible that for example full bass part in certain section is replaced and not the live take. No idea about how they did Don`t Try Suicide, perhaps the guide for all instruments was a fingerclick loop or something

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Flash

Since most songs are just the writer playing synth then that was it. Flash was piano-bass-drums instead of guitar-bass-drums. Timpani must have been added later then. Perhaps some piano parts were overdubbed (e.g. the outro).

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Hot Space

Most backing tracks tracks are bassed on a drum-machine & synth-bass programmed part, and over that the songwriter played either keyboard or guitar. Then the rest of overdubs were done. Life Is Real is perhaps the only truly live and human backing track together with Las Palabras De Amor and Put Out The Fire.

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The Works

Most tracks were just sequenced, real instruments were added later and sometimes the machine tracks were edited (or at least half of them). Machines theme is basically the human band taking over the computer band, but perhaps the guide track was all electronic, and they faded it out.

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A Kind Of Magic

They should have used a lot of midi, at least for guide tracks. How they syncronised the rubato keyboard and the orchestra in Who Wants To Live Forever is way beyond me. Princes Of The Universe is perhaps a live take, and a very wonderful one.

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The Miracle

Lot of stuff was taken out and added later, but basically this is more a live album in terms of backing tracks. Invisible Man is the most electronic and midi one I guess, as well as (perhaps) Was It All Worth It.

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Innuendo

Apparently many backing tracks were first takes. So in the title track Dave Richards must have separated the track to live space in the middle for the interlude. I guess Fred programmed/played keyboard chords in the flamenco-orchestral-heavy part to syncronise the things to come. Those synths were edited out in the flamenco sub-section but not in the other two.

I Can`t Live has synth-drums, as well as Delilah. Freddie`s pieces (which are a lot) should be midi files first, then he could extend and shorten some sections as the recording process continued. Bijou is a live take in the keyboards, there`s no rhythm guide.
14.Sebastian 03 Jul 2004 14:18
Note that backing tracks are less strong and precise in the `Sheer Heart Attack` album. Reason... they had deadlines to face (with the tour and everything). Apparently Fred just had two or three weeks for writing the six songs. `Lap Of the Gods` sounds very un-rehearsed compared to live versions. Specially in the first verse, sometimes it sounds like Fred didn`t know yet which was the next chord. Of course those mistakes pass un-noticed most of time because of the deviation factors (voice and cymbal effects) and because people don`t listen to it so often anyway. `Killer Queen` has some rather un-expected (very little) ritardandos in the piano, and some parts the bass and drums enter a little before or after they should. Live they did it perfectly. In `Lap` during the descending bass part, left hand piano plays some different notes, creating dissonances. They do sound a little good and fit the theme of the track, but I guess they`re accidental because on stage Fred did double Deacon`s part. Queen (I) didn`t have so many "flops" but consider the songs were way simpler and they had already played all of them - except My Fairy King and Seven Seas - live.

Queen II probably already was rehearsed a million times when they came in the studios, since according to Brian they already had many of the songs at the time they were doing Queen I. In fact `Father To Son` and ` Ogre Battle` were part of the set long before the album was even recorded.
15.Bruno 26 Sep 2004 17:18
I wonder what guide instrument was used in recording a capella? On Freddies songs it must have been a piano (Take my breath, Bohemian, Bicycle), on Brians guitar (Fat Girls, WWRY). Do you maybe have more information on the subject?
16.Sebastian 26 Sep 2004 19:22
Bo Rhap - The backing track included piano for the first four measures. It was then edited out for the final mix (you can hear the whole piano part in the Documentary)

Bicycle - Ditto (You can hear the whole piano part in the Japanese Greatest Karaoke Hits)

Breath - No idea. Perhaps Fred played a chord before he sang (like in the video of Somebody To Love)

Fat Bots - I guess the full backing track should include guitar for that part.

WWRY - Perhaps somebody played a chord or something before Fred started to sing, to give him the key.
17.Bruno 03 Oct 2004 23:51
Did Roger do a full backing track on the opera section of BoRhap, or did Freddie really play like a metronome?
18.Sebastian 04 Oct 2004 00:44
It`s not as perfect as a metronome, but yeah Fred`s rhythm sense was worth a praise. Queen (and many artists) like to go a little too far sometimes. Remember the comment about "150 voices in no no no no no no no", or the "20-piece guitar orchestra" in Millionaire Waltz
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