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Sebastian: debatable points of my first 10 articles26 May 2003 03:10

I'm forming songs in groups of ten and analysing them. That I'll do until I complete the discography, including some unreleased or unrecorded pieces like Hangman or Falling Out.

Sorry if it's too long but here they are:



News Of The World is in fact the only album where I see Brian very superior to his band mates as a musician and as singer. This song is one of the major examples of that. All the arrangements of this piece were made by Brian himself.
The backing track of piano, drums and bass was amazing. Brian is a great pianist. That line has all his trademarks, it's just his unique style, and as well as Save Me, it's quite hard to follow when there's no bass or drums, which are very subdued tough. The piano part is very inspired, as I've said before, and it has very nice arpeggios on the left hand while the right hand completes some of them and also makes some fine licks. The same playing style can be seen on Butterfly or Too Much Love Will Kill You. Wonderful intro.
The guitar harmonies are five-part, they're certainly great, they were surely made with John's home-made amplifier.
Brian sang the lead vocal, very excellently too, and on "I am old but still a child" and "take me back again" he made a second track as well. Freddie's vocal harmonies are mostly two-part but at the very end they become four-part, the bottom of which sings a F1 on the words "and gone". It was Freddie's lowest note on the album.
Brian (1983): "That's one of my favorites. That was one of the ones which I thought came off best, and I was really pleased with the sound. It always gives me a surprise when I listen to it because it was meant to really bring tears to your eyes. It almost does it to me"
Brian (2000): "Nobody's ever wanted to know about that track. It was a song I had around for a while, about... it was kind of about the passing of friends, and I think it crystallized because ... this is very embarrassing... I think that started off was my cat, my cat died when I was a kid, and I could never get over it. I think I wrote the song for the album thinking it was about something completely different, but I think partly it was trying to get that out of my system. We never talked about that in the band"
Brian (2003): "For the record, as far as I remember I played piano on Doin' All Right, Father To Son, Now I'm Here, Dear Friends, Teo Torriate and All Dead All Dead."
Peter Hince (2001): "The piano on All Dead was played by Brian"
It was recorded at Wessex Studios, on which they had a Bösendorfer piano. That was the way to figure that out (see the piano research below). Apparently their Wessex sessions were done later than the Sarm ones, so it must have been done between late August and September 1977.
Drums: Ludwig, same as on the entire album
Bass: Fender Precision, as he used to
Guitars: Red Special, as always
Piano: It's a Bösendorfer. It's recognizable because of it's huge resonance (e.g. the note Brian hits after "her ways are always with me"). The classic bell-like tones that characterize European pianos can be heard on the intro and the solo. For sounds of the same model of piano listen to Butterfly or the piano version of Who Wants To Live Forever. That piano make fitted perfectly with Brian's style.



This is a great masterpiece written by Freddie. One of his last really complex songs in a long time. Of course, it has to be written on the piano. I must say I have an endless love for it, even though I don't listen to it very often.
The arrangement is an opposite of a typical Freddie song: bass doesn't double left hand piano, mostly because several piano parts are only played on the right hand. Harmonies have parallel octaves here and there, the verses are in a "question-answer" game instead of being a melody, the guitar solo is arranged as a race.
Brian once said that the quality of the backing tracks that Freddie, Roger and John would put down was amazing, and it's true. Considering they didn't change them once they were done. The rhythm quality of Freddie is wonderful
The piano is awesome as well, Freddie was a genius in any style he thought about, he was not only classical-influenced ballads, he knew how to have fun with weird keys.
The first couple of guitars that enter do the same thing (each one in different panning). They play sustained notes at first. Then sustained chords on the break. At the end of another double-tracked guitar enters and does the typical Red Special crying noises.
The bass is wonderful during the guitar solo, which seems more like Freddie's invention. It has four guitars. Freddie sang lead vocals on the centre channel. Now to the tricky part: harmony vocals.
The intro is a capella. The vocal sound is typical Queen, i.e. Roger, Freddie and Brian. It's a four-part (three of them are paralell octaves) with Freddie in the top and bottom voices. Roger is on the second and Brian on the third. Then there's just the same but with instrument supporting. They give the sensation as if the harmony had become bigger, but it didn't.
The first sentences "say rolls" are said by unison Roger and Freddie. "All I wanna do" is a three-part of Freddie. Now the four-part choruses are done exclusively by Freddie. At the end "I want to ride my bicycle" has another Freddie supporting the lead.
The bridge backing vocals are the typical live formation: Roger on top, Freddie on middle and Brian on bottom (it's not a sexual act by the way). The "on your marks" thing is giving the big choir impression, that was got putting all of them singing each line (this time it's a three-part).
The next part comprehends two bounces, the first one is two parallel octaves made by Freddie, they just say "bi" and become each time higher (a trademark from Freddie, also see We Are The Champions).  On the last "bi" falsetto Freddie sung an F4, the highest note he did on the entire album. The other bounce is also a two-part parallel octave harmony done by Freddie. Then there are a couple of words exactly the same as the intro, with the same settings.
Then the tempo is slowed, the words "bicycle bicycle bicycle bicycle race" are said by a five-part harmony, totally Freddie's. On the last "bicycle" a sixth part is added: falsetto Roger hits a G4, the highest note he made on the album. On that same syllable Freddie sings an Ab1, his lowest note on the album. The word race itself is only two-part. The choruses found later are in the same way as the previous ones.
It's important to note that bicycle rings were added, probably by Freddie. All the guitars were played by Brian.
Brian (2000): "Freddie wrote in strange keys. Most guitar bands play in A or E, and probably D and G, but beyond that there's not much. Most of our stuff, particularly Freddie's songs, was in oddball keys that his fingers naturally seemed to go to: E-flat, F, A-flat. They're the last things you want to be playing on a guitar, so as a guitarist you're forced to find new chords. Freddie's songs were so rich in chord-structures, you always found yourself making strange shapes with your fingers. Songs like Bicycle Race have a billion chords in them"
The track must have been recorded at Nice, as it was written after Freddie saw the tour de France, then it's logical that they didn't wait for being in Switzerland. That suggests it was one of the first songs recorded for the album because the band was first at Super Bear and then at Mountain Studios. So it was done between July and August. The equipment used was:
- Drums: Ludwig, because the track was done at Nice.
- Bass: Fender, as on 90% of cases.
- Guitars: Red Special, just check them out, no other guitar can do that sound
- Piano: Steinway. Listen to any concert from November 1977 until the Magic Tour and the sound of the piano is the same as this one.



Songs performed entirely by Brian and Freddie were not a rare thing. From 1977 they performed alone at least one song each concert. On the 'Works' album they do Is This The World We Created only the two of them, and Who Wants To Live Forever is totally done by Freddie, Brian and an orchestra.
I'm not going to explain the details of how it was written and who wrote it, because on the bottom of this page you can find David Richards saying it, and there's nothing I can add to it.
Now, instrumentation: Brian played just one guitar track with very nice delay. There are five synths, one of them is pizzicato, the other has a string sound and is doubled on the verse by a warm pad. At last there are some synth-generated cymbal rolls and some bells. They're all played by Freddie, who also sang the vocals.
Brian (1991): "I have a debt there, and you know to whom - Jeff Beck"
David Richards (2001): "The title came from Freddie and it's duet song with Freddie & Brian. Freddie played the strings part and then Brian played the guitar. It took very fast to finish, it's about 1 hour." 
No idea about the studio used for this one, or the time it was recorded. That's not solved yet. As for the instruments:
- Guitar: Red Special. No doubt
- Keyboards: Korg M1. One of the main features of this synth was the presence of amazing string sounds. They're easy to recognize.


'A Night At The Opera' is an album on which all the band members where at their best in all ways. Yet simple, this is one of finest Roger's arrangements and performances ever.
Backing track was probably the four band members as Freddie's piano does not appear on all the song and neither does the rhythm guitar. Bass is just marking the measures, with occasional deaky licks. Brian would double the rhythm guitar later. It's worth saying that throughout the song car noises appear.
Drums are sometimes making some exhibitions, which are multiplied on the live renditions of the piece. Brian's lead guitar is wonderful.
On vocals we find the best Roger arrangement ever. The lead vocal reached en E4 on "they're just for wheeled friends now", without falsetto, it's his highest head voice note found on records.
On the first chorus a three-part harmony, entirely made by him, appears, they do great operatic voices, the first of them reaching a G4 with falsetto, and the others doing head voiced E4 (again) and C4.
The second chorus is more complex. There's a three-part bounce on the centre channel, then one on the left and one on the right, i.e. nine vocal tracks. One of them does a B1, his lowest note on the album.
Roger (1999): "I remember my car at the time, because I think we've got the exhaust on the record, and that was a little Alfa Romeo. But I think it was more about people in general, for instance boy racers. In particular we had a sound guy/roadie at the time called Jonathan Harris, who was so in love with his car, and that inspired that. I think he had a TR4, Triumph TR4"
We can tell that it was done before October 31st because it was Bo Rhap's B-Side. But on which studio, no idea. It's probable that the backing track was done at one of Rockfield studios, in Wales. Equipment used:
- Drums: Ludwig
- Bass: Fender Precision
- Guitars: Red Special
- Piano: Bechstein


Written by Brian and Timothy Staffell, this is a great show of what arrangements on the pre-Queen era were all about. There's a Smile version of it, recorded on 1969, on which Roger and Tim sing.
I do prefer the "duet" version of the song. I would be so happy if Queen were a band with a duet of vocalists (Roger and Freddie), a la Air Supply.
The basic track of the song was Brian on piano (this is the earliest Queen song with that feature), John on bass and Roger on drums.
Now, we find Brian playing acoustic guitars, nobody else played guitars on the album. There's a clean guitar and three distorted ones, they are all on the Red Special with Vox Ac30.
During the hard part there's a piano playing 16 notes per measure on the left hand and some licks on the right hand. That's very definitely a Freddie trademark (we find it on the intro of Flick Of The Wrist and the outro of Let Me Live), so I guess that that part was overdubbed later. On the BBC Version everything was re-made, and the entire piano line was by Freddie.
Lead vocals are by Freddie, harmonies are falsetto Freddie on top, Roger on middle and Brian on bottom. They're arranged by Brian and/or Tim since it had the same lines before Fred joined the band. Brian's voice is notorious only on some parts, mostly it's very subdued.
Brian (2003): "For the record, as far as I remember, I played piano on Doin' All Right, Father To Son, Now I'm Here, Dear Friends, Teo Torriate and All Dead All Dead"
Tim: "It has never bowled me over as being a particularly brilliant song, but it has got me out of a hole more than once. I've just paid this quarter's tax bill on the latest royalties"
Album version was done on late 1972 at Trident Studios, London. BBC Version was at Langham I Studio, London, on February 3rd 1973. Even though some of the BBC Versions used the same backing tracks as the album versions, we can tell that on this case the band re-recorded everything. So it's totally a different version. Here is the equipment used for both versions:
- Drums: Ludwig. He didn't use more makes yet.
- Bass: Fender Precision, he already had it
- Electric Guitars: Red Special.
- Acoustic Guitars: Hairfred, as well as on all recordings before 1973.
- Piano: Bechstein at Trident Studios (that legendary piano), and Steinway at Langham I (it can be tell either by ear or knowing that the house piano of those studios was that).

I'm putting the others later

tell me what do you think please
1.Sebastian 26 May 2003 15:12
here there are some more:

One of the most commonly made mistakes that Queen followers make is believing that the heaviest songs from the band were written by Brian. Certainly the man with the curly hair and the curly guitar lead wrote a bigger percentage of hard-rock songs, but the heaviest pieces, like Ogre Battle and this one, were written by Freddie.
The song itself had three versions. After Fred wrote the basic framework, Brian changed it, re-arranged it and made his own version. Then John took it and made his own version, and that's the one they finally recorded.
If we see the general structure of the song we shouldn't be surprised by the above paragraphs. It's acyclic, something very common on Freddie (My Fairy King, Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Princes Of The Universe, It's A Beautiful Day). The way of how the key is shifted down and up again is similar to Let Me Entertain You.
It's a nineties heavy metal, Roger's drumming is so powerful, for ages he hadn't done such a wonderful track. John's bass is doubling rhythm guitar, something very common on Queen's hard songs (i.e. Tie Your Mother Down)
Guitars are a rhythm one, and several layers of fills and solos. Freddie played synthesiser, which appears on some parts like "hitman school", and specially on the bridge, where they make an orchestral part very Freddie-esque. Since Barcelona he become such a fan of those things, and he used to put them on many of his latter songs (The Miracle, Was It All Worth It, Bijou, Innuendo)
Lead vocals are done by Freddie on the released version, and Brian on the demo (which shows that he could have been written the lyrics). The really vocal part is just at the beginning, the rest is more improvised within a big instrumental section. That was not the first time Freddie made that (Living On My Own is another example).
Harmonies are a two-part by Brian. His voice is so clear, no clues of Roger or Freddie on those parts at all.
Brian (1993): "Hitman's finished version had very little to do with the original idea. Most of the riff came from Freddie. I wasn't even in the room when they wrote it. I changed the key and some of the notes to make it playable on the guitar. We finished the backing track, but it seemed to ramble. John sat down and decided to reconstruct the track. He changed the order. He changed everything. I went back and played on that. Then we filled in the gaps on the lyrics, did the harmonies and generally tidied up"
Brian (1994): "I was obviously involved heavily in Headlong, I Can't Live With You and Hitman"
David Richards (2001): "I had two memories. One of them is that it was Brian's idea, but the other is that it's Freddie's"
No idea again about the studio or time. Equipment consisted of:
- Drums: Ludwig, as stated on the album credits
- Bass: Fender
- Guitars: Red Special
- Keyboards: Korg M1. The orchestral part has its typical sound. Listen to any of the other orchestral parts on Freddie's post-1987 songs and you'll notice it sounds the same.


This was one of the first songs that the band recorded for the album, written and arranged entirely by Freddie. However its multiple vocal harmonies, it's a lot more "normal" than the Queen II album. The backing track is piano, bass and drums. Roger is doing several cymbal rolls panning from left to right on the first verse, something common on Fred's arrangements (Bohemian Rhapsody,  March Of The Black Queen).
Piano is doing really fast arpeggios at the beginning. Previously on the solo of My Fairy King he would demonstrate his ability to do those kinds of things as well. It's the main instrument of the song, does a very simple support to the vocals and plays a "solo" towards the end, which is a little variation and repetition of one part of the melody. Similar piano idea can be heard ten years later on Keep Passing The Open Windows.
Bass is similar to left-hand piano at some points, but John had a little more freedom to let his line walk away. The main electric guitar is making little licks and bass-doublings, also a mini-solo at the end. At the beginning there's a three-part harmony on guitars, but Brian, who made all the electric tracks, could have done it on just one track. There's also acoustic guitar, raucous. It's played by John Deacon.
For the vocals, the main one is Freddie, with some distortion caused by slowing down the tape a little. Roger added some screams with go up to an A4, his highest note on the album. Harmony vocals during the song are simple three-parts, made entirely by Freddie
On the intro Freddie made four-part harmonies, hitting a falsetto F4 on one part, that was the highest note he reached on the album as he could not force his voice so much on that year.
Freddie (1977): "I suppose it could be progressed that way. I was beginning to learn a lot on “Sheer Heart Attack”, we were doing a lot of things which was to come on future albums, was to be used on future albums. Songs like that, yes, I suppose. Working out the harmonies and song structure did help on say something like “Bo-Rhap”. Somebody said this sounds like Cecil B. DeMille meets Walt Disney or something. More to the point than The Beach Boys!"-------------------
Trident Studios, the piano gave us the clue. Then it should have been done on the first three weeks of the sessions in July 1974.
- Drums: Ludwig
- Bass: Fender Precision
- Guitars: Red Special
- Acoustic Guitar: Ovation Pacemaker. It's clearly a twelve string and it's plugged in, then there's nothing else to look for.
- Piano: Bechstein. The sound of it is very acoustic and projected, still not as resonant as a Bösendorfer (like on Dear Friends). Listen to any piano song from Queen II, A Night At The Opera or A Day At The Races and the sound is the same.


It's not just the name of a fifties movie about a genocide, it's also a great but underrated song written and arranged by Freddie, written in 1983, although it seems '57 as well.
Very few has been talked about it, then it's an obscure thing how it was inspired or composed. What I must say is that the piano lines are similar on some parts to Don't Try Suicide and the live versions of Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Basic track of piano, bass and drums was done at one take. One of the most important overdubs is the piano finale by Fred Mandel, a complete fan of the glissando, there's also a guitar which is very definitely not the Red Special, hitting the chords with a clean sound. It's a Telecaster and must have been played by Freddie.
Freddie sang lead and added three-part harmonies and also handclaps. It's probable that he would make the entire song alone for his solo album if the technology was advanced enough to simulate accurate bass and drum sounds, but it wasn't so his vehicle to bring life to the piece was Queen.
The guitar solo is not the Red Special again, according to Brian he has used the Red Special for all the songs except Crazy Little Thing and Long Away, so we have two options here, one being that it was also Freddie (it isn't so hard anyway), or that Brian forgot that he also had played a Telecaster on this one. It's kind of Brian style but I guess if Freddie ever played a solo it would be clearly influenced by Brian's style. At the end there are some overdriven guitars which are in fact the Red Special, those are of course Brian.
The piano line brings out to a conclusion: it was recorded at Los Angeles. That would mean it's between August-October 1983. Equipment used:
- Drums: Ludwig.
- Bass: Fender Precision. No other bass has those sounds.
- Guitars: Fender Telecaster for solo and Freddie's rhythm. For the same sounds check out Freddie's parts on 1984-1986 live versions of Crazy Little Thing Called Love. At the end there are some Red Specials.
- Piano: Steinway. Check out any concert from any tour from News Of The World to Magic and the sound is the same. Notice that the high notes don't do bell-like tones like on European makes.


Probably Brian's more beloved song by most fans, as it has a great message on it. There's a big confusion about the origin of the riff, Brian said once that it was Roger and John, then he said it was he and Roger, well, we have one conclusion: Roger was there. We have to ask him anyway. But for now, I think it's Roger and John because that comment was earlier so it's possible that he remembered more accurately.
Now, we all know drums were by Roger, bass was arranged and played by John. Brian played about three guitar tracks, each one of them is marvelous. The arrangement idea of the key shift was by David Richards.
For the keyboards we know that Brian played it, just one track probably. Most harmonies are Brian, like the ending ones "go on go on..." and the echoes to Fred's lines ("turning turning..."). On the second chorus there's a very classic Queen harmony block. I guess they all have participation of it, probably singing unison each one of the three parts.
Brian (1991): "It's my favorite song on the album, now. It's got that kind of sadness, but it's hopeful"
Brian (1994): "The Show Must Go On came from Roger and John playing the sequence and I started to put things down. At the beginning it was just this chord sequence but I had this strange feeling that it could be somehow important and I got very impassioned and went and beavered away at it. I sat down with Freddie and we decided what the theme should be and wrote the first verse. It's a long story, that song, but I always felt it would be important because we were dealing with things that were hard to talk about at the time, but in the world of music you could do it."
Brian (2000): "The Show Must Go On is written as a collection, which is a Queen song because we decided to credit everything to Queen after all. But that's kind of, that, I regard that as my baby because most of that I wrote with Freddie sitting right here and it was a great experience because Freddie at that time wasn't really able to or willing to expose himself in terms of lyrics except at certain particular instances. And he knew about this idea. He knew that it related to the way we felt about him. When I sang the guide vocal for Freddie -- and most of it I had to sing falsetto because I couldn't sing that high -- and I was going to Freddie, is this OK? And he downs a vodka and goes into the studio and just nails it. And I think it's one of his finest performances ever"
Brian (2001): "We were kind of chucking stuff at this point he knows he hasn't got long to go and he's pushing himself ever faster and ever harder, ever higher, and I wrote him some vocal lines to sing on this and I thought "Agh, he's never gonna be able to manage. He went straight in - couple of vodkas and (laughs) you can hear it's like stuff that no one can ever reach, vocalwise, so um, and I think this song is very - it sums up an era, and it means a lot to me"
Brian (2003): "We began using synthesisers and there were many excursions from us all into keyboard territory. My main contributions on principal parts were (in no particular order) in Scandal, Was It All Worth it, Hang On In There, Too Much Love will Kill You (which was done with Frank Musker up in his house in the Canyon in L.A. when we first sketched the song), No-One But You (again done on my own, originally for use on my solo album), One Vision (my first ramblings on a Kurzweil gave rise to the opening section), I Can’t Live With You, The Show Must Go On (that sequence just got thrust into my head playing around with Roger – I will never know where it came from, but it completely took me over for a long time while the song was in development). And of course Who Wants to Live Forever."Roger (1993): "Typical Queen, sort of a closing track, metaphorical in a way"
David Richards (2001): "It's completely Brian's. Actually I suggested some keys"
David Richards (2002): "I would give many arrangement ideas also, the more memorable being the key change verse and chorus in The Show Must Go On, and transposing each consecutive melody line and chord in the chorus of This Could Be Heaven creating a rising up effect rather than the more linear idea from Roger's demo."
No idea about where and when it was done. But I do know about the equipment:
- Drums: Ludwig, as the album credits state
- Bass: Fender Precision. Listen to almost any song from Queen and it's the same instrument
- Guitars: Red Special, same argument as above.
- Keyboard: It was not on the Korg, it doesn't have that deep sound, it's a little more primitive. My guess is that it was on the old and beloved Yamaha DX-7. An evidence is that Mike Crossley played that song on that synth on Roger's concerts in 1994, and it sounded just the same. I think Spike also used a Yamaha when Brian and Roger (mistakenly called Queen) performed it on Amsterdam 2002.


Written and arranged by John, this song is often a high score on fan's polls of best songs. And there's a reason, it's just amazing.
John could have performed all the instruments by himself (as piano, guitar and drum patterns aren't so hard to do) and take a revenge for both Roger's songs, but he knew that the song needed the combination of different styles of playing.
Backing track was Freddie on the piano, John on the bass and Roger in drums. Some licks on the last part of the song confirm Freddie played it. On the BBC Version the piano is even more Freddie-esque than on the album, as the song is way more outgoing.
Acoustic guitar is played by John himself, and there are about six electric by Brian. They do a very John arrangement, appearing late in the song and doing sustained chords and notes. They also make some wonderful lead fills.
Lead vocal is by Freddie, there are no backing vocals. The ending of the song contains nice improvisations, there you can hear piano licks that are totally Freddie (because the video can create confusions, the reason why John played on it was because Freddie was drunk and he wanted to move around)
John Deacon (1997): "Basically it’s one of the two tracks that I’ve come up with this year, and managed to squeeze onto the album"Freddie Mercury (1978): "Some people call this song Spread Your Legs. And I like it that way"
Peter Hince (2001): "John played acoustic on Spread Your Wings"
Album version was done at Wessex Studios, London, between late August and September 1977, the piano confirms that. BBC Version recorded on October 28th 1977 at Maida Vale Studios in London. Equipment:
- Drums: Ludwig, no doubt
- Bass: Fender
- Electric Guitars: Red Special
- Acoustic Guitar: Martin D18. It's clearly a six-string, and that was the band's favourite regular acoustic guitar.
- Piano: Bösendorfer on the album version. You can clearly hear bell-like tones on after each "because you're a free man", while on the BBC Version the high notes sound darker, like on a Steinway. And it is in fact a Steinway.


Great piece indeed, we have kind of a confusion about the writer. Brian said that he had played keyboard of the main part, but he also said Fred wrote the song. And he wasn't referring to the lyrics since they are by all four of them. So my conclusion is this: Brian wrote the riff (that's why he played it on synths), and Fred wrote the song from that riff.
So the song first thing to be laid must have been Brian playing the keyboard pads. He also put on about six guitar layers. John played bass and Roger played drums.
Vocals are totally made by Freddie, sometimes they're up to five parts. Since the sequence must have been composed by Fred, it's logical that he played the synths that play chords throughout the song were played by him.
The first orchestral part was done on three tracks, all by Fred. Now, the second orchestral section is in my opinion the most clever orchestral part ever composed and arranged on rock music, and by Freddie (even beating the Barcelona album). I don't think he actually played it though, it seems more like he programmed it using the Atari computer and Passport Master Tracks software, and then he run it in the keyboard.
Passport Master Tracks Software was released on 1989, so this track, or at least that part, must have been one of the last they made (sessions were over on January). For that part Roger played Timpani as well.
Brian (1994): "I really like it. That's me and Fred, but more him. For that track we did all sit around and try to come up with rhymes and stuff. Roger's very good at that"
Brian (2003): "We began using synthesisers and there were many excursions from us all into keyboard territory. My main contributions on principal parts were (in no particular order) in Scandal, Was It All Worth it, Hang On In There, Too Much Love will Kill You (which was done with Frank Musker up in his house in the Canyon in L.A. when we first sketched the song), No-One But You (again done on my own, originally for use on my solo album), One Vision (my first ramblings on a Kurzweil gave rise to the opening section), I Can’t Live With You, The Show Must Go On (that sequence just got thrust into my head playing around with Roger – I will never know where it came from, but it completely took me over for a long time while the song was in development). And of course Who Wants to Live Forever."Roger (2001): "That was a particularly brilliant solo."
David Richards (2001): "It's Freddie's. But the lyrics are written by four. For example, it was Roger who wrote the part "we love you madly"."
David Richards (2002): "Freddie played the keyboards on The Miracle, Was it all Worth it and Innuendo (Korg M1). He played a strong role in the writing of these songs"
No idea about the studio, the date is January 1989. Equipment is as follows:
- Drums: Ludwig
- Timpani: Ludwig
- Bass: Fender
- Guitar: Red Special
- Keyboards: Korg M1, they just have that unique sound. All the synth-parts were done on that. Check out similar orchestral sounds on Innuendo and Bijou.
2.Sebastian 26 May 2003 15:13
and finally, the big one:


Probably the absolute peak of what Freddie's music is all about. It just combines everything. Even if it were credited to Queen, we should know it's from Freddie.

On general structure, we find it a lot close to The March Of The Black Queen, but it's still very catchy. Regular hit singles are very repetitive, this song does not repeat sections (except for the verse), but it does recycle several lyrical and musical parts. For example the B-Bb-A-Bb chords are done on "easy come easy go", which appears on operatic section and also on the intro.

As for most Freddie's songs, the piano was the lead instrument. The arrangement of it is quite simple on the verse part, just transposing the riff in the different chords (Bb, Gm and Cm). That concept is very John Lennon (Day Tripper, Birthday, Ballad Of John & Yoko), Freddie used it before for My Fairy King and Funny How Love Is. The abrupt simplification of the arrangement found at the beginning of the operatic bit is also found on earlier (Black Queen) and later (Somebody To Love, Millionaire Waltz), and is inspired by Beatles' epos A Day In The Life.

The distinctive thing about the piano line is the hand-crossing, which Freddie didn't use for any other song. Finally we find Freddie playing a very fast scale with only the left hand. Those kind of exhibitions are also found on The March Of The Black Queen.

Roger's drums enter late in the song, that's very common on rock ballads. John's bass line is more or less the same thing as left-hand piano, which is another Freddie trademark. On the use of special instruments, Roger played Timpani on the operatic section and Gong at the end.

Guitar enters doing harmonics, doubling the last part of the piano riff. Then some overdriven rhythm Red Specials are doubling the bass-line with small variations. Another Freddie's song with guitar doubling piano is Black Queen a little after the 4th minute. Fred's songs with guitar doubling bass (i.e. left hand piano) are for example Jesus. After the operatic bit the bass is also doing the riff (like on Ogre Battle). On that section we find about four guitars sharing the riff and the power chords, each one with different sound settings. The riff is totally Freddie's invention, and he must have composed it on guitar since it's very similar to Fred's earlier rocker efforts (Great King Rat, Liar, Hangman)

The majestic guitar solo must have been written on the piano, because if you play it on keyboards it's so easy, and with a very Freddie feeling. Hats off to Freddie for inventing that wonderful orchestra after the rock section, and hats off to Brian for playing it that awesomely.

Now, vocals, the tricky part. Lead is Freddie, just one track on most of the song, except on the heavy section where it's double-tracked. The intro is a four-part harmony by Freddie. It includes some very nice counterpoints. The idea of clever vocal harmonies was already found on bands like Yes, Beatles, Beach Boys or The Who, but Queen used to maximize that.

Before the big solo Freddie added a bounce of two-part, then two other Freddie's say "anyway the wind blows" unison, after that they do parallel octaves. One of the notes they do is a C2, quite low indeed. We find there several Freddie's trademarks in arranging vocal harmonies: some of them are very low (Lily Of The Valley, Flick Of The Wrist, Nevermore), also they are ascending and appear during the guitar solo (both can be heard on The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke). As a nice detail, this is one of the few cases where the riff is actually sung in one part.

Then it comes to the big mock operatic bit. Well, we all know the "silhouette of a man" is just one voice from Freddie. There's an alternative version of it, which is what they put on tape for the intro of the 'Opera' tour. There Freddie pronounces "little" with more American accent.

'Scaramouch' part is a three-part of all Freddie. Then on 'thunderbolt and lightning' is a five-part, again it's all Freddie, Brian put some of those tracks separately on the documentary. For the next sentence ('very very frightening me') two other harmonies on the top are put. One of them is singing E4 notes, that's sung by falsetto Brian (first time we find him on his top note), falsetto Roger, falsetto Freddie, head Roger and head Freddie. The other is even higher, only by Fred and Roger, hitting an A4 (880 Hz). Those kind of multi-part harmonies were a trademark from Freddie and can be found on earlier songs like Nevermore or In The Lap Of The Gods.

The high 'Galileo's' are Roger (there's an unreleased take from Freddie as well), the lower are Freddie. 'Magnifico' is a cascading harmony (shades of Black Queen), done entirely by Freddie. 'I'm just a poor boy' is again only Fred's lead.

Then on 'he's just a poor boy' we find for the first time the entire Queen choir, which was arranged on a seven-part. Top note is Roger and Freddie, both falsetto and head, and falsetto Brian, probably. Bottom note is just Freddie. All the others are done by all of them and repeated several times.

'Easy come easy go will you let me go' is just Fred's lead. The word
"bismilah" is Fred on parallel octaves. 'No' is a four-part. All of them made the three lower voices, on the top we find clearly Roger and Freddie. There's also one voice that found very difficult to hit that note, I do think it's Brian although it could also be a very tired Fred or Roger.

'We will not let you go' is a three-part, each one sung unison by the Queen choir again. Brian is notorious on that part. Not more than Fred or Roger, but more than on other sub-sections. "Let me go" is done the same way, but a top voice of a sustained Roger is added.

Then we find a three-part choir of Freddie arguing with a two-part from Roger. While one is "will not let you go" the other is "let me go". Then Fred's lead is like "never never never" and a five-part, also entirely Freddie's, make another cascade.

The "no no no no no no no" part is very tricky, a nice counterpoint of four voices. One of Fred's finest earlier examples of counterpoint harmonies is Master Stroke. It's so hard to tell which one is on which voice, because they're locked, although you can tell that there's only one voice per part. The top line is falsetto Roger, the bottom line is Freddie, Brian is found on the second-highest note, you have to listen closely but there he is. No idea about the other, is a kind of second voice harmony to what Roger was singing, it could be any of the band members.

"Mamma mia mamma mia" is just Freddie, then "mamma mia let me go" is a four-part, the bottom notes are just Freddie, the others each one sung by each one, again. The rest is seven-part. The top line of Roger (or Roger and Freddie) reaches the famous Bb4. Then there's an harmony of falsetto Roger, falsetto Freddie and head Freddie that reaches a F4 (Fred's highest non-falsetto note found on records). The next one is Fred and Roger on both falsetto and head, and falsetto Brian, they go up to a D4. The next three are on the all-together mood, and the bottom is just Freddie. He made some impressive low notes, like an F1 on the last two "for me" words. Then at the end Freddie made a four-part harmony of "oh, oh yeah oh yeah". The top line is falsetto.


1975: "With Rhapsody we've squeezed our vocal limitations to four octaves and not slowed down the tape"

1977: "A lot of people slammed Bohemian Rhapsody, but who can you compare that to? Name one group that's done an operatic single. We were adamant that Bohemian Rhapsody could be a hit in its entirety. We have been forced to make compromises, but cutting up a song will never he one of them!"

1980: "For Bohemian Rhapsody I had to work like crazy. I just wanted that kind of song"

"We wanted to experiment with sound. Sometimes we used three studios simultaneously. Bohemian Rhapsody took bloody ages to record but we had all the freedom we wanted and we've been able to go to greater extremes"

"There is no point in cutting it. If you want to cut Bohemian Rhapsody it just doesn't work. We just wanted to release it to say that this is what Queen are about at this stage. This is our single and you're going to get an album after that"

"I'm really pleased about the operatic thing. I really wanted to be outrageous with vocals because we're always getting compared with other people, which is very stupid. If you really listen to the operatic bit there are no comparisons, which is what we want"


1998: "It's something great, but it's also hard to live with because people want to talk about it the whole time. It's hard to get away from something that big"

1998: "Freddie did some of that stuff on his own. The first thing you hear in Bohemian Rhapsody is just Freddie multi-tracking himself. He could sing so accurately, double-tracking, that it would phase. Quite amazing."

1999: "Bohemian Rhapsody was much more Freddie's baby that anything else. It was really his dream, or nightmare or whatever you wanna call it."

2001: "It would pretty odd. I mean this is really Freddie's brain child. You know he came in here with most of it formed in his head and he was just trying to get it across to us, which was difficult. And he was going "Da d-da da da", then it stops, you know, and then we go "Why, why's it stop?" and he's say, "No, this bit goes in here", you know the acapella bit. "And then there's..." and we'd go "Okay Fred, yeah", you know, and it was all done in bits and it sounded very weird cos there was no vocals on it. It was just bits of backing track, urm, and he had all the vocal parts written out on these little pieces of paper, which came from his Dad's work - all written in A's and B's and C's - not dots, 'cos we don't do dots really very well, but in, in the names of the notes. All the chords, every note that everyone was gonna sing. And some of these things were sort of 9-part harmonies, as you can tell, you know, plus we sing it 16 times each, over the 3 of us, so there's a colossal number voices on there by the time you stop, by the time you've finished. Um - and we thought this is either something which is (laughs) gonna be completely incomprehensible, or else it will be the biggest thing ever, I suppose"

2002: "The harmonies on the beggining of the song are not any of us, it's just Freddie multi-tracking himself"

"This is Freddie going 1500 miles an hour"


1998: "Somebody asked me that the other day. Yes, I sung that high note on Bohemian Rhapsody. It's the very high one at the end of operatic section, mock operatic section. we didn't have synthesisers. It was, it was genuinely sung - yeah, yeah. Yeah - we used to be able to get higher, but I think as a natural - your voice does get lower as you get older."

1999: "Bohemian Rhapsody was, although it is, I think it's a wonderful song and it's quite serious in some ways, its got a tremendous sense of humour about it, especially in the, obviously in the central sort of pastiche section, you know. That sort of mock operatic section. I mean, we thought it was hilarious when we were doing it. In fact, great, you know, quite exciting, and fun and big and quite funny. We did think it was special and it was worth spending literally weeks on recording it."

"I am very proud of being involved with it. But it never ceases to amaze me that the sort of legs of the song. People still really hold it with a great deal of affection"


1985: "It was a very strange song to record, we actually did it in sections"


Roy Thomas Baker: " Freddie was sitting in his apartment and he said "I've got this idea for a song" and he sort of sat down and he sort of started playing the song and it was all going along good, you know, and he had some words missing and some bits of melody that he hadn't quite worked out, but it was just the basic framework of the song. The he was playing away and he stopped and he said "Now dears, this is where the opera section comes in" and I went oh, my god! So we said, "Oh OK, this is the opera section" and it was just gonna be at the time a little brief interlude of a little bit of you know a few little things like Galileos. So we said OK, fine , stick a few little Galileos and then we can get on to like the rock part of the song. It started off as a ballad and then there's the opera section and then it went on and on. As we got into the studio we started formatting the song which we had to record it in sections because it was actually designed in sections, so we recorded it in sections and everything was fine. We did the ballad section and then we did the rock section going back to the ballad section - if you hear the song you understand what I mean. And we left a blank piece of tape to do the opera section. When we started doing the opera section properly, erm, it just got longer and longer and we just kept adding blank tape to this thing and it got bigger and bigger and bigger. Every day we just sort of thought "Oh, this is it, we've done now" and Freddie would come in with another lot of lyrics and say "I've added a few more Galileos here dear" and so we would put on a few more Galileos and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger and in the end it became the epic we all know. "

Peter Freestone (2001): "He was always very proud of it"

Ozzy Osbourne: "One of the best things ever put on magnetic tape"

Dave Stewart: "It  redefined the parameters of what one can do in a song"

Gary Langan (worker of Sarm West Studios): "I wasn't there for the basic track, because they did it at Rockfield. But then they came to Sarm due to all the guitar and vocal work they'd got to do. The song arrived I three sections and they were given funny nicknames -which, sadly, I can't remember- but Fred knew what he was doing. With Queen, unlike some bands, the big picture was very much in place. The reason for being in the studio was to complete his picture, not to make it or design it and I don't think there was ever a feeling that it might not work. That was never in the equation"

Gary Langan: "There were technical hurdles to overcome, but they worked through that and got a system or how to do the vocals efficiently and quickly and how you'd do all the marshalling of the tracks. Sarm had 24-tracks recording, which was very advanced at the time. This was where technology and Fred went together because here was a medium he could use to further his greatness. When 24-track came along it must have been like the sun coming out for him, the fact that he could use multi-tracking to do all these vocals. You had to keep bouncing things down, without losing the quality of everything. You had to work carefully, there was no undo button on these days."

Roy Thomas Baker: "As we got into the studio we started formatting the song which we had to record it in sections because it was actually designed in sections, so we recorded it in sections and everything was fine. We did the ballad section and then we did the rock section going back to the ballad section - if you hear the song you understand what I mean. And we left a blank piece of tape to do the opera section"



In spite of Roundhouse, Olympic and Trident studios all claiming Bo Rhap was done there, we could find from comments of Gary Langan and John Deacon that the backing track was done at Rockfield, in Wales. It's probably one of the first on which they worked because it kind of sets the trademarks of the album. So it should have started shortly after August 26th 1975 (the first day of the 'Opera' sessions) and after a couple of days the band went to Sarm West and spent three weeks laboring on it. The equipment used was:

- Drums: Ludwig. He just used those at the time

- Bass: Fender. Same comment as above

- Guitars: Red Special, no contest.

- Piano: Bechstein, as stated on the credits of the album.

- Gong: Paiste, same as he used live. I don't think he had more than one of those!

- Timpani: Ludwig, as most percussion instruments were.
3.Sebastian 28 May 2003 17:24
by the way, do you have handwritings of the original song sketches? I only have the lyrics of 'It's A Hard Life' and 'Mother Love'
4.PD 28 May 2003 20:08
I have scans of "Jealousy" and "Princes Of The Universe". The latter has some chord names written in. Longer reply to your articles will be posted soon.

Beatles manuscrpts: www.angelfire.com
5.BrianMay 31 May 2003 14:59
I have a scan of an unreleased Queen song somewhere. written by Freddie. It's not even on the boxset
6.wiz eutropio 31 May 2003 15:49
Where did you find the handwritings? Are they original or just a reproduction?
7.Sebastian 31 May 2003 16:57
by the way PD, can you please send those scans to my mail or upload them somewhere?
8.PD 02 Jun 2003 10:36
Sebastian, by now the scans must have landed in your mailbox.
The promised long reply will be posted later this week. Long posts take long time. (Some short posts as well.)

Wiz - original manuscripts are way too rare and expensive things to get in my posession. The scanned pics of Jealousy I've found via the AMQ newsgroup as an auction item. I can't remember where I found the "Princes" lyrics (plus chords), maybe in the extensive picture collection of Queenzone...
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