After having been tax exiles for seven years, Queen returned to London (though they still recorded bits and pieces elsewhere) and fully embraced the computer era. 'Gimme the Prize' would be their very last song not to feature any sort of synthesisers. A Kind of Magic contained some material done for the Highlander soundtrack as well as stand-alone tracks and it was almost the midpoint between the Reinhold Mack and the David Richards eras.
David Richards had been part of the Mountain Studio staff since 1975, but when Queen went there to record Jazz he wasn't required so he went off on holiday. He began working with them for Live Killers in 1979 and from then on he became a producer/engineer/keyboardist for Roger's solo efforts and was also involved with Hot Space as an engineer and uncredited pianist.
This album contains plenty of external performers, including Joan Armatrading on incidental vocals, Stephen Gregory on saxophone, Philip Edney on synthesisers, the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen, and an uncredited string section.
Some preliminary sessions for 'One Vision' were filmed and subsequent footage has been included in some documentaries. It's still fragmentary, though, as it only covers part of the Munich recordings and doesn't (as far as it's been revealed) include anything from London, where the song was completed.
There are also a few photographs which have leaked online or in some books, though not a lot of details have been given regarding equipment and a more specific timeline.
Stems from 'One Vision' have been made available online after they were cracked from the videogame Rock Band, where it was released as downloadable content on Tuesday 20th October 2009.
- Summer: Queen start recording the album at various locations in Switzerland, England and West Germany.
- Monday 4th November: 'One Vision' / 'Blurred Vision' released in Britain.
- Friday 7th: Highlander, the film, premieres in America.
- Monday 17th: Queen release two different singles simultaneously for EMI and Capitol, respectively. 'A Dozen Red Roses for My Darling' is the B-Side on both; the A-Sides are 'A Kind of Magic' (EMI) and 'Princes of the Universe' (Capitol).
- Sunday 1st: A Kind of Magic, the album, has had at least 300,000 pre-orders in the UK, simultaneously earning it Silver, Gold and Platinum certifications despite not yet having been released.
- Tuesday 3rd: The album is released in Britain.
- Saturday 14th: The Official Charts Company reveals A Kind of Magic was the best-selling album of the week in Britain, replacing Peter Gabriel's So on top of the charts; one week later, it's replaced by Genesis' Invisible Touch.
- Friday 29th: Highlander, the film, premieres in Britain.
- Wednesday 1st: A Kind of Magic is certified Double Platinum in the UK for having sold 600,000 copies in that territory.
- Friday 15th November: The album is certified Gold in the USA for having (finally) sold half a million copies in that territory.
Documented Recording Venues
- EMI Studios on 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, Greater London NW8 9AY, England.
- Maison Rouge Studio on 2 Wansdown Place, Fulham Broadway, Royal Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Greater London SW6 1DN, England.
- Mountain Studios in the Casino Barrière on 9 Theatre Road, Montreux, Vaud 1820, Swiss Confederation.
- Musicland Studios in the Arabella House basement, Munich, Bavaria 81925, Federal Republic of Germany.
- Sarm West Studios on 8 - 10 Basing Street, Notting Hill, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London W11 1ET, England.
- The Town House on 150 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush, Royal Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Greater London W12 8EN, England.
- The band:
- John Deacon: Electric bass, electric guitars, analogue and digital synthesisers, drum computer.
- Brian May: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, analogue and digital synthesisers, drum computer.
- Frederick Mercury: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic piano, analogue and digital synthesisers, drum computer.
- Roger Taylor: Backing vocals, acoustic and electronic drums, electric guitar, analogue and digital synthesisers, drum computer.
- Guest musicians:
- Joan Armatrading: Incidental vocals.
- Philip Edney: Analogue and digital synthesisers.
- Stephen Gregory: Alto saxophone.
- National Philharmonic Orchestra:
- Michael Kamen: Conductor.
- Sidney Sax: Leader.
- Studio Crew:
- Deputy Producers / Chief Engineers:
- Reinhold Mack: 'One Vision' and songs penned by John and/or Frederick.
- David Richards: Tracks penned by Brian and Roger.
- Assistant Engineers:
- Paul Cook
- Stephan Wissnet: Musicland.
- Technical Crew:
- Peter Freestone: Equipment supervision.
- Christopher Taylor: Equipment supervision.
- Brian Zellis: Equipment supervision.
- Acoustic Pianos:
- Bösendorfer (Unknown Model): Town House.
- Sauter Upright: Musicland.
- Steinway B 6' 10": Mountain.
- Steinway (Unknown Model): Town House.
- Yamaha C-7 7' 5": Musicland.
- Electric Basses:
- Fender Precisions:
- 1955 Masterbuilt: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
- 196?: John had two, which may have been his main ones.
- 1981 Special: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
- 1983 Elite: 'One Vision', and possibly other tracks as well.
- Giffin Bespoke: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
- Kramer DMZ: Most likely merely a spare, but could've also been used somewhere.
- Music Man Stingray: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
- Warwick Buzzard: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
- Electric Guitars:
- BHM Bespoke: Brian's main, also used by Roger on the title track.
- Fender Stratocaster: John's.
- Fender Telecaster: John's.
- Guild BHM: Brian's spare.
- E-mu Emulator II+.
- Fairlight CMI-II.
- Kurzweil K-250.
- Roland Jupiter 8.
- Roland VP-330.
- Yamaha DX-7.
- Ludwig Bespoke Acoustic Drums: Roger's main kits (he had several of them).
- Simmons SDS-V Electronic Drums: 'One Vision' (overdub).
Documented Studio Equipment
- Tape Recorders:
- Studer A-80 24-Track Analogue: Musicland, Town House, Mountain.
- Mixing Consoles:
- Harrison 4832: Musicland.
- Neve 8048: Mountain.
- SSL 4000-E: Town House.
- AKG (Various Models).
- C-12: Sometimes used for vocals at Mountain.
- C-414: Reportedly, this was the main microphone used for Frederick's vocals at both Musicland and Mountain.
- Beyerdynamic (Unknown Models).
- Electrovoice RE-20: Bass-drum at Mountain.
- Neumann (Various Models).
- Schoeps CK-1: Sometimes used for vocals.
- Sennheiser (Various Models).
- Shure (Unknown Models).
- Sony (Various Models).
- Sundry Equipment:
- AKG Echo Chambers: Musicland.
- Audio Kinetics Synchroniser: Musicland.
- Cadac Monitors: Musicland.
- dbx 266-XL Limiter: Town House.
- EMT 140 Plate Reverb: Musicland, Town House.
- Eventide DDL-1745 Delay: Town House.
- Lexicon 224-XL Delay: Town House.
- Linn 9000 Drum Computer.
- MXR M-175 Delay: Town House.
- Scott TC-2440 Equaliser: Musicland.
- UREI LA-2A Limiter: Town House.
Myths, Legends & Ongoing Debates
- 'Heaven for Everyone': It's a bit frequent for websites or blogs or tweets or YT comments to claim 'Heaven for Everyone' was written for this album. As far as it's been documented, it wasn't: Roger wrote it a few months after the album'd been finished, released and toured. He initially offered it to Joan Armatrading, who rejected it, and then he recorded it himself (with guest musicians Philip Edney, Erdal Kizilcay and Frederick Mercury) before releasing two different versions of it as part of The Cross.