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Sebastian: my next 10 articles01 Jun 2003 00:27
again I bring them here to see if some of you have anything to discuss over them. about 'Drowse' I really hear one piano note, I have to trust my ears.


Very simple track, just John playing synthesiser while on the movie they're arriving to the planet of the tree men. It was the first time he played synth on the recordings and also the first time he was asked to do a song for incidental purposes. And I think he did both tasks really good.

At the same time Roger was working on solo projects, he gave to the band some rough numbers, which fortunately received arrangements from Brian and specially Freddie, and become stand up numbers. This is one of those cases.
The basic framework of the song is built up from a loop Roger made. First he programmed a synth-bass, a drum-machine and played two guitars. One is hit on the weak beats and the other doubles the riff and is double-tracked.
Freddie's parts included a piano, which is doubled by a synth-pad, and a wonderful synth solo with saxophone sounds. He also must have been the one who programmed the double-tracked arpeggios. During those arpeggios Brian appears and hits some chords. Oh, and during the synth solo there is a keyboard doing bass notes different to the other synth-bass that does the riff. And after the solo Roger hit twice a drum pad.
For vocals, Roger recorded two part harmonies that share the melody with a single voice from Freddie.
Peter Hince (2002): "The sax solo is actually a synthesiser. Roger probably played rhythm guitar"


Certainly the one song that in a moment could compete with Bohemian Rhapsody for being the best selling song of the band is this great John's piece. Is the prelude to John's future songs, as they started to be driven totally around bass riffs and drum loops.
And that's what Roger did on the song, just a tight drum loop. Brian's part was limited to make weird noises with the Red Special and an harmoniser, and very occasional power chords he played (e.g. at 1:25). Freddie put about three vocal tracks to the song, one for lead and the rest was a double-tracked harmony. As he was very excited about the song, it's possible that he added the synth that makes that thunderbolt noise.
The rest was John's job. Bass, guitar that doubles bass, lead guitar, piano and handclaps were his work. The funky rhythm of the guitar "solo" is also found on Cool Cat one year later.
John: "This song was written cause I always wanted to do something in direction of Black-Music, Disco-Music I got it through, that this song came on the album, like it was. It's not a typical Queen song and I do not know if we ever will do something similar again. We had disagreements about this song. Our company wanted this song as a single 'cause it was very successful at "Black" Radio stations. Roger tried to avoid that, 'cause he said it's too disco-like and that is not good for the reputation of Queen"
Brian (1997): "I do remember John singing the lines to Another one bites the dust to Freddie. so it is possible you know.. but he's a bit shy about it.. he doesn't like to sing in public."
Brian (1993): "John Deacon, being totally in his own world, came up with this thing, which was nothing like what we were doing. We were going for the big drum sound: you know, quite pompous in our usual way. And Deakey says, 'No, I want this to be totally different: it's going to be a very tight drum sound.' It was originally done to a drum loop - this was before the days of drum machines. Roger did a loop, kind of under protest, because he didn't like the sound of the drums recorded that way. And then Deakey put this groove down. Immediately Freddie became violently enthusiastic and said, 'This is big! This Is important! I'm going to spend a lot of time on this'. It was the beginning of something quite big for us, because it was the first time that one of our records crossed over to the black community. We had no control over that; it just happened. Suddenly we were forced to put out this single because so many stations in New York were playing it. It changed that album from being a million-seller to being a three-million seller in a matter of three weeks or so"
Brian (1998): "I can remember many times when Roger and I would be pulling in absolutely diametrically opposite directions. No chance of either of us budging. And Freddie would find a way through. He'd say, "Well, you can do this and do this and it will all work." That was one of Freddie's great talents. He was good at finding roads in the mist. But he would certainly fight for things he believed in. Like Another One Bites the Dust, which was a bit of a departure for Queen. Roger, at the time, certainly felt that it wasn't rock and roll and was quite angry at the way it was going. And Freddie said, "Darling, leave it to me. I believe in this." John had written the song. But it took Freddie's support to make it happen."
Roger: "It was Michael Jackson who said to us that it would be a big hit"
David Richards (2002): "John played guitar on Another One Bites The Dust. He also played piano (reverse piano) on that one"
Crystal Taylor: "The actual very first people to suggest Another One Bites The Dust to be released as a single was The Royal Road Crew. We were lurking around at Musicland Studios while the fab ones were mixing, and I think it was Jobby who said it would be a huge hit. When we told the band they just glared at us and told us to mix some more cocktails. I suppose Mr Jackson saying it sounds more impressive than "Our pissed road crew said ...""


Even if this song was credited to Brian, Fred or John, we knew it was a Roger's song. Both lyrically and musically, it just fits him, and just Roger fits it. Apart from him playing the guitar (for the first time in a Queen record) and singing, we find it's structure very simple, using the one-bridge model (like he did before on Modern Times Rock N' Roll, The Loser In The End and Tenement Funster and later on Invisible Man).
Basic track was probably Roger on drums, John on bass and Brian on acoustic guitar. After "boy next door" a piano note is heard, then Brian's slide guitar follows and the keyboard never appears again.
Roger played timpani and rhythm guitar as well as two parallel octave vocal lines. This song shows clearly that Roger's range is way bigger than those screams fans are used to.
Freddie (1977): "A very interesting song of Roger's. Roger is very rock and roll. It's got great slide guitar from Brian and Roger's done octave vocals. It's a very humable tune, actually, I sing it all the time"


John's composition for the dramatic scene of the motion picture. Not a very complex song. The main instrument is the guitar, played by Mr. Deacon.
Freddie added a reversed piano as an overdub. The rest is Howard Blake's great orchestral arrangement, which was a perfect link between this song and The Kiss.


It was pretty obvious that Freddie would write a nice song for his hero, John Lennon, who was murdered on 1980. The structure is very simple and not particular from any band member. The order of intro, two verses and then a bridge is also found on Seven Seas of Rhye and Crazy Little Thing Called Love, although they change from then on.
Bass doubles left hand piano, with small variations as in Bohemian Rhapsody. Drums play a very simple pattern, also with occasional changes. The piano, on the other hand, doesn't make changes to the generic pattern it's doing.
Thanks to the demo we can find that the four-part harmony vocals, all done by Freddie (check Freddie's solo album for the exact same sound), were the last thing to be put, and that some stuff was edited out on the final version.
Those things are a double-tracked acoustic rhythm guitar. Following John's quote ("we all played guitar on our record") it's possible that Freddie played them, but John or Brian could also have done it.
Brian recorded a double-tracked rhythm electric guitar, which mainly plays sustained notes and some fills before another guitar is doing a wonderful melodic solo, followed by an acoustic show-off.
Freddie, apart from piano and guitar, played synthesiser, which does some warm pads at some points and also makes a solo after the acoustic guitar. On the demo Brian's Red Special doubles the synth but that was edited out. Freddie sang lead vocals on one track.
Freddie (1982): "I basically write the tune. I write the song around the melody most of the time. Sometimes a lyric will get me started. Life Is Real was one of those, because the words came first. I just really got into it, pages after pages, all kinds of words. Then I just put it to a song. I just felt that it could be a Lennon-type thing."Peter Freestone (2002): "On a flight across America Freddie said "write this down….. Cunt stains on my pillow…" I immediately said that he couldn't use that word and so we tried some others and some days later the song became Life is Real"


A very weird song in the Queen catalogue is this bar-like number, a very under-rated song which had some great live performances though.
Freddie's amazing piano skills are shown on this piece, which was not his typical style. The vocals were quite good, not his best in my opinion. Great work of the rhythm section. The BBC Version features Brian on guitar. I think there's not so many thing to say about it, the piece is just something you've got to hear.


This is one of the most underrated songs of one of the most underrated albums, but, well, it's not that likeable as other Roger's pieces.
As well as Fun It, Tenement Funster and Drowse, it features different melodies on the verses, although they have the same chord progression. Apart from that, it's cyclic, like Fight From The Inside and A Human Body.
Roger's parts were drums and maracas. Brian's rhythm guitar is double-tracked, and it's the same as the bass. There's one Brian lead guitar which makes some fills similar to what he did on I'm In Love With My Car. There are some overdubs like on 1:46 that are done by another guitar, Roger must have played them.
Finally Roger made the lead vocal, which reaches an impressive head voice E4 at the end. He also made three-part harmonies.


Freddie's romantic side started to be clear on the second album with this song. One of the best he ever wrote and played, also a very high peak in favourite song polls among die hard fans.
The piano was probably the first thing laid down, it has some tempo variations throughout the song, and it's quite simple, having the left hand playing octave bass and the right hand doing arpeggios. John's bass is as it's common in Freddie's pieces, a small variation of Freddie's left hand. For further examples on that matter check Bohemian Rhapsody or Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy.
The BBC Version features Brian's Red Special doing arpeggios and Roger drumming. Lead vocals on both versions are done by Freddie.
On the album version Freddie himself made four-part harmonies, on one part there are two-bounces in a kind of question-answer game. It's a great example of how Freddie was able to do proper choirs without his band-mates. On the BBC Version some woman is singing too, no idea who she is.
After the first verse and before the "warm and tender" line there is a nice effect, called the Spector effect. It consists of someone plucking the strings inside the piano and somebody playing the notes, and they just ring. Robin Geoffrey Cable, who produced the song, was a big fan of Phil Spector, so it must have been his idea. I guess Freddie played that piano track too.
Crystal Taylor: "I spent years trying to get Freddie to play Nevermore during the show, but he never did"


One of the last songs to be completed on the album, and the only track of it sung by Brian. It's tad surprising that he wasn't a big part of the instrumentation of the song. All he played was a double-tracked electric guitar which appears as an overdub.
John played acoustic guitar and bass, Roger made the drums. Brian recorded lead vocals and a double-tracked falsetto harmony.
Apart from Brian singing the song and the heavy use of D and A chords, there's nothing particularly Brianesque. We only know it's his song because it's credited to him.
Peter Hince (2001): "John played the acoustic guitar"
1.PD 02 Jun 2003 20:57
Just a short reply -
"Peter Hince (2002): "The sax solo is actually a synthesiser."

It was a major surprise for me. I'm listening to that solo, and it still sounds very non-synthetic in my ears, the "tenor sax" is more "synthetic". The "alt sax" performance has many nuances that must have been difficult to produce on keyboard.
Soon or later I will correct myself in the article.

By the way: who exactly is Peter Hince? My trivia knowldege is weak.

Back to "Action": don't forget that low octave harmony in the Verse. Another point of debate who sings those low-E (not to mention that momentary low-D that I keep hearing at 0:44) but Bohardy and others did not confirm yet)

Drowse: it's worth to mention the low octave singing in the Verse. You know those low E-s and a momentary D that Bohardy and others did not agreed yet on.
The electric slide with whah pedal was probably not the Red Special, and maybe it had open tuning.
2.wiz eutropio 02 Jun 2003 23:41
Peter Hince was a road crew member.
3.Sebastian 03 Jun 2003 14:17
Peter Hince aka Ratty was John's and Freddie's assistant from 1974 to 1985, and also on the Magic Tour although not on the recordings of the album.

my actual question was who played the sax solo on Action, since Arif Mardin is credited for the brass section on 'Staying Power' but no-one is credited for this.

His answer was "it's a synthesiser..."

and in fact, I tried an Oberheim OBX-a few days ago and it can make that sound. I say it's Freddie because, although it's not his keyboard style, he's the only one with enough knolwedge to get that sound (you must configure some oscillators and stuff, it's not a preset sound), and to play that solo.

on Action the harmony is pure Roger, and he in fact could go very low, lower than Brian in my opinion. about low voices on Drowse if Roger did sing the entire verse on octave vocals then he would have reached an A1 on 'ain't so hard at all'. But on that exactt line I don't hear two octaves, I only hear Roger's highest voice, which does an A2 (220 Hz).

about the slide, I do think is the RS, I mean, Brian was not used to Roger's guitars, he must have used one of his own anyway, and back on '76 all he had was the Red Special, the Burns Double Six and the Les Paul. I'm not 100% sure but until we find an accurate confirmation I think I don't have other options

now, I think we cannot believe 100% in Ratty, but unless we have a stronger counter-argument, we can't do anything but trust him. For example he said to a friend of mine that the acoustic guitars on 'Crazy Little Thing' have been played by John, which contradicts versions of John, Brian, Roger and Freddie who say it was Mr. Mercury.

He also said that John had played acoustic on 'She Makes Me'. I can't totally believe it but until we find Brian or Roger or John to confirm or correct it, that's the most reliable info I have.
4.Chaka 25 Jun 2003 10:07
Re: the synth on Action This Day, I am no expert on the synthesizer stylings of each band member, but I think it is possible it is Roger as he wrote the song and also I believe I read that he owned the Oberheim synths...therefore could he not have figured out some techniques of that particular instrument rather well? Again, I'm admittedly no expert, just bringing up a possibility.
5.Sebastian 25 Jun 2003 13:11
yes in fact it's likely that Roger did play some synth parts of Action but not all

and I think Roger was the "least good" keyboardist of the band, I don't think he was able to do such solo. It's like "Freddie until somebody proves something else"
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