News Of The World
News of the World closes the band's first run and their rags to riches path. Granted, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' had been a massive hit but a lot of its revenue had to be used to pay Trident off from their previous severance. So at this point they were still living in modest flats and, though definitely financially stable, they weren't dancing the millionaire waltz yet.
The album was entirely done in London (first time since Queen II) using 24-track analogue tape-recorders. Sessions began at a new location, Basing Street Studios in Notting Hill (previously known as Island Studios) and continued at Wessex Sound in Highbury, which had been used earlier on for Sheer Heart Attack and A Day at the Races (but not A Night at the Opera as they were undergoing refurbishment at the time due to change of management), before heading off to Sarm in Aldgate for mixing (and possibly some overdubbing, though that's mere speculation at this point).
It was their swiftest album to make since Queen II and also probably the cheapest one out of their last four up until then. Michael Stone received full co-producer credit this time, assisted by Robert Ash at Basing Street and Richard Stokes at Wessex.
Some rough mixes have been auctioned online, revealing some details such as the names of the assistant engineers (not mentioned in the liner notes) and a few specific dates for sessions and rough mixes. Roger gave an extended interview upon the album release and confirmed 'It's Late' had been the first track they'd recorded.
Footage of the band tracking 'It's Late' and 'My Melancholy Blues' comes from the BBC sessions. At the time, they were planning on issuing an in-depth documentary narrated by presenter Robert Harris, which is also why they filmed some bits of the band allegedly working on 'We Are the Champions', which may have been a recreation rather than the actual sessions (the absence of Michael Stone being particularly suspicious).
Speaking of 'We Are the Champions', the 24-track contents leaked online in August 2019. They contain some bits of 'It's Late' too, which probably ended up there by accident back in 1977. Stems for both 'Champions' and 'We Will Rock You' had been cracked from the videogame Rock Band 3 as they were both part of the Queen Extravaganza Pack 1 released on Tuesday 7th December 2010. 'Get Down, Make Love' leaked in 22-track format (2 tracks were presumably used for data back then) since early 2008.
- Monday 28th: Soon after having returned from the American/Canadian leg of the Races tour, Queen sign the Assignment Contract with Trident and agree on paying a £303,392.71 management debt.
- April: In between legs of the A Day at the Races tour, Roger records his debut solo single and Frederick produces an album for Peter Straker at Sarm.
- Friday 24th: Brian writes a letter to the Fan Club, announcing they'd be touring America at the end of the year, which had prompted them to decide that their next album would be more spontaneous as they'd have less time to record it.
- July: Recording sessions begin at Basing Street. Confirmed songs at least partially recorded at this point:
- 'It's Late'.
- 'Who Needs You'.
- 'All Dead, All Dead'.
- 'Sleeping on the Sidewalk'.
- August: Sessions split between Basing Street and Wessex, both in London.
- While at Wessex, Queen and the Sex Pistols meet for the second time. Frederick reportedly throws Simon Ritchie (aka Sid Vicious) out of the studio.
- Friday 26th: Roger's first solo single, 'I Wanna Testify' / 'Turn on the TV', is released in the UK on his 28th birthday.
- Saturday 27th: 'We Are the Champions' copy-mix at Wessex.
- Monday 12th: Roger announces, via a letter to the Fan Club, that 'We Are the Champions' will be the lead single.
- Friday 16th: Album is mastered from the Sarm mixes.
- Saturday 1st: Even though it's not yet commercially available, the lead single's already been pre-ordered at least 250,000 times in Britain, enough for it to be certified Silver.
- Friday 7th: Lead single, 'We Are the Champions' / 'We Will Rock You', released in the UK.
- Friday 28th: Album released in the UK.
- Tuesday 1st: 'We Are the Champions' is certified Gold in the UK after having sold half a million copies in that territory. News of the World is simultaneously certified Silver and Gold in the UK for having amassed £150,000 and £300,000, respectively, in sales.
- Monday 14th: News of the World is certified Gold in the USA for having amassed a million dollars in sales there.
- Monday 28th: News of the World is certified Platinum in the USA for having sold a million copies there.
- Wednesday 25th January: 'We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You' is certified Gold in the USA after having sold a million copies in that territory.
- February: The fan club magazine includes, in its Q&A section:
- A question from a German fan regarding the 'DNA' line on 'Sheer Heart Attack'. The initialism in German is DNS, but it's still quite telling that such a term was yet to be part of 'common knowledge' at that point - to be fair, words do take a while to be part of everyday vocabulary: 'meme' was coined in 1976, and 'baritone' entered the English language in the 17th century but only became commonplace in the 1820's.
- An inquiry from two British fans regarding the strange sound in the middle of 'Get Down Make Love'. They're told that it's a harmoniser rather than a synthesiser.
- An English fan asks what bass Roger had used on his songs on the album and whether or not John used his fretless bass on any of the News of the World tracks. He's told that Roger borrowed John's Fender and that John didn't use the fretless on the album.
- Tuesday 25th April: 'We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You' is certified Platinum in the USA after having sold two million copies in that territory.
- Thursday 14th November: News of the World is certified 4 x Platinum in the USA for having sold four million copies in that territory.
Documented Recording Venues
- Basing Street Studios on 8 - 10 Basing Street, Notting Hill, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London W11 1ET, England.
- Sound and Recording Mobiles (aka Sarm Studios) on 9 - 13 Osborne Street, Aldgate, London E1 6TD, England.
- Wessex Sound Studios on 106 Highbury New Park, Islington, Greater London N5 2DR, England.
- The band:
- John Deacon: Electric bass, acoustic guitar, percussion (?).
- Brian May: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, acoustic piano, percussion.
- Frederick Mercury: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic piano, percussion.
- Roger Taylor: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic drums, electric guitar and bass, percussion.
- Confirmed 'We Will Rock You' guests on percussion and backing vocals:
- Elizabeth Edwards
- Andrew Turner
- Studio Crew:
- Robert Ash: Assistant engineer (Basing Street).
- Gary Langan: Assistant engineer (Sarm).
- Gary Lyons: Assistant engineer (Sarm).
- Richard Stokes: Assistant engineer (Wessex).
- Michael Stone: Deputy producer, chief engineer.
- Technical Crew:
- Richard Anderson: Equipment supervision.
- Jonathan Harris: Equipment supervision/coordination.
- Peter Hince: Equipment supervision.
- Christopher Taylor: Equipment supervision.
- Bösendorfer Imperial 9' 6" Acoustic Piano: Wessex.
- Steinway (possibly B 6' 10.5") Acoustic Piano: Basing Street.
- Ludwig Bespoke Drums.
- Premier New Era Cowbell: 'Who Needs You'.
- Premier New Era Maracas: 'Fight from the Inside', 'Who Needs You'.
- Premier New Era Tambourine: 'Fight from the Inside'.
- BHM Bespoke Guitar: Brian's main.
- Birch Bespoke Guitar: Brian's spare.
- Fender Esquire Guitar: 'Sheer Heart Attack' (rhythm).
- Fender Precision Basses: John had two, he could've used either, or both.
- Fender Stratocaster Guitar: Possibly 'Fight from the Inside'.
- Martin D-18 Guitar: Possibly 'Spread Your Wings'.
- Music Man Stingray Bass: John admitted (in 1979) having used it in the studio, but it hasn't been confirmed where.
- Unknown Spanish Guitar: 'Who Needs You'.
Documented Studio Equipment
- Analogue Tape Recorders:
- 3M M-79 24-Track: Sarm,Wessex and Basing Street.
- Mixing Consoles:
- Cadac 3208: Wessex Studio 2.
- Cadac 3224: Wessex Studio 1.
- Helios 3216: Basing Street Studio 2.
- Helios 3224: Basing Street Studio 1.
- Trident B 2824: Sarm.
- JBL 4350 Speakers in EPI 50 Cabinets: Basing Street Studio 2.
- Tannoy Red Speakers in Lockwood Cabinets driven by Crown Amplifiers: Basing Street Studio 1.
- Tannoy Red Speakers in Lockwood Cabinets driven by Radford Amplifiers: Sarm.
- Tannoy Speakers driven by HH Amplifiers: Wessex.
- Compressors / Limiters:
- Allison Gainbrain: Basing Street.
- dbx 160: Sarm and Wessex.
- dbx 165: Sarm.
- Marconi: Sarm.
- Neve: Wessex.
- Teletronix LA-2A: Sarm.
- UREI 1176: Sarm, Basing Street and Wessex.
- Westrex: Sarm.
- Aengus Graphic: Sarm.
- Orban Parametric: Sarm and Wessex.
- Pultec: Basing Street.
- Trident Parametric: Sarm.
- UREI Graphic: Sarm and Wessex.
- C-28: Possibly used for guitars.
- C-414: Sundry uses.
- C-451: Hi-hats mic at Basing Street.
- D-12: Possibly used for bass-drum and additional percussion.
- D-20: Bass-drum, tom-tom and electric guitar close-up mic at Basing Street.
- D-25: Tom-tom and bass amp mic at Basing Street.
- D-224E: Snare-drum mic at Basing Street.
- Beyerdynamic M-160: Multi-purpose mic at Basing Street.
- Neumann U-67: Occasional vocal mic at Basing Street.
- Neumann U-87: Multi-purpose mic at Basing Street (piano, guitar, vocals, tom-toms, drum overheads). Reportedly, it was the main one used to record Frederick's vocals.
- Shure SM-57: Possibly used for electric instruments at Basing Street.
- STC Coles: Likely used for percussion and vocal overdubs at both studios.
- Outboard Signal Processors:
- Allison 64K Automation: Sarm.
- Allison Kepex Noise Gates: Sarm.
- dbx Noise Reduction: Sarm.
- Dolby Noise Reduction: Sarm.
- EMT 140 Plate Reverb: Sarm, Basing Street.
- Delay: Basing Street.
- Flanger: Wessex.
- H-910 Harmoniser: Wessex and Basing Street.
- Omnipressor: Sarm.
- Phaser: Basing Street.
- Marshall Time Modulator: Wessex.
- UREI Little Dippler Filter Set: Sarm.
Myths, Legends & Ongoing Debates
- Roger's Four-Song Set: Because Roger played bass and rhythm guitar on both of his compositions for the album, some people suspected he may have had recorded them as a solo artist first, together with his first solo single. Not quite: he recorded 'I Wanna Testify' and 'Turn on the TV' in April, and then Queen (the four of them) entered the studios three months later to work on the album, which included 'Sheer Heart Attack' and 'Fight from the Inside'.
- Spread Your Keys: John mimed the piano intro on the video for 'Spread Your Wings', prompting plenty of fans to think he also played it on the record. No, he didn't - the only reason Frederick didn't mime it on the video was because he was inebriated that day and generally uncooperative. Videos don't necessarily reflect what happened on the recording sessions. There's no banjo on 'A Kind of Magic' and no skull solo on 'It's a Hard Life', by the way!
- We Will Drum You: Though many people are aware of it, there are also thousands who aren't: 'We Will Rock You' has no drums. It's all just people stomping and clapping. Of course live versions had the floor tom and the snare-drum, but, again, live versions don't necessarily reflect what happened in the studio.