The Works is a first for Queen in quite a few ways: they started it in Los Angeles and finished it in Munich, using a lot more technology compared to the past. Said technology included digital tape recorders (perhaps 24-track but they could've also been 32-track especially in California), samplers, sequencers, vocoder effects to make robotic voices, more advanced drum computers and, for the first time, MIDI files.
It also increased the ratio of external performers, with over half of the album material featuring auxiliary keyboard players/programmers, and flipped the songwriting royalties as four singles were eventually released (one by each member), but while Roger's and John's were massive successes, Brian's and Frederick's were only minor hits.
The Los Angeles sessions have been documented in some detail thanks to contemporary Fan Club magazines featuring several photographs, and a few tape boxes which have appeared online as well. Very few details are known from the Munich sessions.
Stems from three tracks have been cracked: 'I Want to Break Free' (Rock Band: Downloadable Track Pack, Tuesday 20th October 2009), 'Hammer to Fall' (Rock Band 3: Queen Extravaganza Pack 1, Tuesday 7th December 2010) and 'Radio Ga Ga' (Rock Band 3: Queen Extravaganza Pack 2, Tuesday 6th December 2011).
- July: John and Frederick fly to Montreal and agree to do the soundtrack for Hotel New Hampshire. Frederick starts recording 'Keep Passing the Open Windows' in Munich.
- August: Queen meet up in Los Angeles to begin working on the album.
- Mid-to-Late Autumn: Queen fly to Munich to finish off the album.
- Friday 20th: Album mastered from the Musicland mix.
- Monday 23rd: The lead single, 'Radio Ga Ga' / 'I Go Crazy', is released in EMI territories.
- Wednesday 1st: 'Radio Ga Ga' is certified Silver in the UK for having sold 250,000 copies.
- Tuesday 7th: The lead single, 'Radio Ga Ga' / 'I Go Crazy', is released in Capitol territories.
- Monday 27th: The album is released in Britain.
- Thursday 15th March: The album is simultaneously certified Silver and Gold in the UK for having sold 60,000 and 100,000 copies, respectively.
- Monday 2nd: The sophomore single, 'I Want to Break Free' / 'Machines', is released in Britain.
- Tuesday 24th: The album is certified Gold in the USA, for having sold a million dollars worth of copies in that territory.
- Tuesday 1st: 'I Want to Break Free' is certified Silver in the UK for having sold 250,000 copies.
- Wednesday 30th May: The album is certified Platinum in the UK for having sold 300,000 copies in that territory.
- 23rd April: 'I Want to Break Free' (digital reissue) is certified Gold in America for having sold half a million copies in that territory.
Documented Recording & Mixing Venues
- Musicland Studios in the Arabella House basement, Munich, Bavaria 81925, Federal Republic of Germany.
- Record Plant on 1032 North Sycamore Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California 90038, United States of America.
- Union Studios in Solln, Munich, Bavaria, Federal Republic of Germany.
- The band:
- John Deacon: Electric bass, electric guitars, analogue and digital synthesisers, drum computer.
- Brian May: 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: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic drums, analogue and digital synthesisers, drum computer.
- Guest musicians:
- Reinhold Mack: Digital synthesiser.
- Frederick Mandel: Analogue and digital synthesisers, acoustic piano.
- Studio Crew:
- Michael Beiriger: Assistant engineer (Record Plant).
- Edward Delena: Assistant engineer (Record Plant).
- Reinhold Mack: Deputy producer, chief engineer.
- Stephan Wissnet: Assistant engineer (Musicland).
- Technical Crew:
- Peter Freestone: Equipment supervision.
- Peter Hince: Equipment supervision.
- Christopher Taylor: Equipment supervision.
- Brian Zellis: Equipment supervision.
- 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: New acquisition, may have been used on the album.
- Kramer DMZ: Most likely merely a spare, but could've also been used somewhere.
- Music Man Stingray: Possibly a spare, but perhaps used somewhere.
- BHM Bespoke: Brian's main.
- Fender Stratocaster: 'I Want to Break Free'.
- Fender Telecasters: 'Man on the Prowl' and 'I Want to Break Free'.
- Gibson Chet Atkins CE: 'I Want to Break Free'.
- Gibson Firebird: 'Hammer to Fall' and 'Tear It Up' (rhythm).
- Ovation Pacemaker: 'Is This the World We Created'.
- Fairlight CMI-II Digital Sampler: Quite prominent on the album.
- Oberheim OB-Xa: Used frequently during these sessions.
- Roland Jupiter 8 Analogue Synthesiser: Used prominently (e.g. 'Ga Ga', 'Break Free').
- Roland VP-330 Analogue Synthesiser: Possibly used, though not necessarily.
- Yamaha C-7 7' 5" Acoustic Pianos: Housed at both The Record Plant and Musicland.
- Ludwig Bespoke Acoustic Drums: Roger's main kits (he had several of them).
- Simmons SDS-V Electronic Drums: Possibly merely a spare on this album.
Documented Studio Equipment
- AKG (Various Models).
- C-414: Reportedly, this was the main microphone used for Frederick's vocals.
- Beyerdynamic (Unknown Models).
- Neumann (Various Models).
- Sennheiser (Various Models).
- Shure (Unknown Models).
- Sony (Various Models).
- Sundry Equipment:
- AKG Echo Chambers: Musicland.
- Audio Kinetics Synchroniser: Musicland.
- Cadac Monitors: Musicland.
- EMT 140 Plate Reverb: Musicland.
- Harrison 4832 Mixing Console: Musicland.
- Linn LM-2 Drum Computer.
- Scott TC-2440 Equaliser: Musicland.
- SSL Mixing Console: Union.