Read all 5 events for 16 December at diary.QueenSongs.info
Composer: Freddie Mercury
Chorus (AA)| Verse |
Chorus (AA)| Verse | instr. Break 1 / solo |
Chorus (AA)| Verse/Bridge | Vocal Break |
Chorus (A) | Verse/Break 3 / banjo solo | Outro
"Leroy Brown" is the first of Mercury's Tin Pan Alley influented songs, and as such it is one of the songs that marks the beginning of the second major period in the band's carreer. The only song (more preciselly song fragment) that presages this style is the piano intro of the "Funny How Love Is" (which more precisely belong to the outro of "... Black Queen"). Mercury mentioned the Pointer Sisters as an influencial source for this song. Title-wise it must have been inspierd by "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" (US No1 in 1972).
The songform consists of four cycles, but only the first one is "normal". For the sake of variety the rest is developed differently in each cycle with the inclusion of different breaks and solos, Bridge, part of which developed from the Verse. This kind of design will return in Mercury's later works in the eigthies.
The arrangement features banjo (see also "Good Company"), piano, bass (also double bass for a moment), drums plus lots of barbershop vocal harmonies. The bass line is particularly busy. The banjo accompaniment sounds remarkably genuinely as if Brian had been playing for many years in a dixiland band which he had not.
Surprisingly they DID play this song live several times. The played it instrumental skipping the third cycle, but including the banjo solo.
Each four cycles of the song start with a chorus. The first one also serves as the intro. The chorus consists of a doubled up phrase repeating the title phrase except the last one. The phrasing is 4+4, AA'. The lead vocal is harmonized except the last subphrase of the first phrase. The rhythm of m1-2 make use of the 3+5 type syncopation. Banjo and drums hold a short pause from the downbeat of m3 on.
/---------- 2x ----------\\
| C G | C G | C | Gaug |
| I V | I G | I | V |
Changing details in the arrangement:
2nd cycle: the title phrase in the second phrase is sung (no harmonies this time) two octaves lower reaching a "C" on bottom. If it was not varispeed it would be the lowest sung note on a Queen record. It is thought sung by Freddie.
3rd cylce: the firs phrase-closing antiphonal harmony ("yeah") is replaced with a guitar harmony.
4th cycle: no changes except the second phrase dropped.
We have four 16 measure Verses the first two of which is "normal" the rest is altered. The syncopeted lead vocal is harmonized throughout, plus some antiphonal "yeah"-s and "Woo-woo"-s are added at the end of each phrases.
| C | Gaug | C | E/G# Am |
| I | V | I | V/vi vi |
| C | Dm7 | C* | * |
| I | ii | I chromatic |
| Am | G#dim| Am | F#halfdim |
| vi |"V/vi"| vi | |
| C* | * | C | Gaug |
| chromatic | I | V |
In m7-8 the vocal harmony uses of chromatic cliche (pedal point on top, two ascending chromatic line below). The bass in the second phrase plays a long diatonic scalar walk. In the 2nd cycle this vocal harmony is replaced with a banjo solo with blue-grass style arpeggios. The third Verse has an odd-rhythmized backing harmony block in m3-4. In the fourth Verse this cliche is repeated a fourth higher in double tempo (this is Break 3) leading into a strummed banjo solo. In the 3rd and 4th cycle .
| C | Dm7 | C* | * | F* | banjo |
| I | ii | I | - | IV | - |
Interestingly this is the only time in the song where a subdominant chord (IV) is played. The last beat/measure of the vocal extension is overlapped by a funky four measure strummed banjo solo:
| F7 | A | D7 | G7 |
| IV |V/V/V| V/V | V |
Solo / Break 1
After the second verse we have a guitar solo section. Bass repeats a boogie-woogie-like one measure ascending pattern for eighth measures while piano and banjo rest. Speedy guitar solo with a little touch of shuffle beat starts in m2. Vocal harmony phrase starts in m3, and a variant of it in m7 where the ending is overlapped by the next phrase which is characterized by the return of the piano. The guitar solo ends on the downbeat of the next phrase, in m11. This next two measure phrase plays a descending semi-chromatic double-bass scale on the quarter beats.
| C1 | - |
| C6 | - | - | - |
| C6 | - |
| Am | E/G#|
| Am | * |
The last phrase has a crazy piano break (a jangle piano and a grand piano).
| Gdim| E1 F1 G | * | Gaug |
Its rhythm is tad difficoult to transcribe as it starts with a 3+3+2 pattern of paino arpeggio. This beat map may help you getting oriented:
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
******* * * ***** * ** * * : piano
* * ** * * : bass
* * * ** : drums
* : vocal
The third Verse slows down from m7-8 where the chromatic cliche is replaced with a diatonic one: the familiar I > V6/3) > vi proression.
| C G/B | Am |
After this lead-in we have a slow ad-lib tempo section very tipical for the Tin-Pan Alley genre. The phrasing is four-squared except the very last phrase extended with a soprano "whoo" (G). The accompaniment is piano and backing vocal harmonies.
/----- 2x ----\\ | Dm7 | Am |
| ii | vi |
| Dm7 |Adim/C|
| ii | vidim|
| B7 | G7 | |
|V/iii | V | |
vocal Break 1
After the Bridge we have a vocal break before the next cycle starts. The first two measures shows an ascending semichomatic cliche (the same with the one in the Verses m7-8) executed twice. The ascending bass puts the second cycle in a higher inversion. Brian adds a short guitar harmony reinforcing the piano chords in m3-4. The second phrase starts with an acapella vocal phrases followed by a short arch-shaped chromatic instrumental figure.
| C* | - | Am7 Am | E/G# Am |
| | G1 |
The outro has previously not used musical material.
The first two phrases (AA) build on a chromatic descending harmony. The second half of the vocal phrases are harmonized.
/---- 2x -----\\
| C B | Bb Am |
| I ... vi |
The third phrase makes use of the 3+3+3+3+2+2 patterned rhythmical cliche. The harmony is oscillating.
3 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 = two measures
| E/G# Am E/G# Am E/G# Am |
The fourth phrase starts with the I > V6/3 > vi cliche, and ends with a cute three part vocal harmony build up.
| C G/B | Am F#halfdim | Am C | C G|
| I V | vi | vi I | I V|
| G | G/B C | C |
| V | V I | I |
The last measures have hard to follow rhythm (try to count along the beats!).
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 * * * * ** * **** **** ***** * * * ** * *** * * *