Don't Try So Hard

Written by Queen

Recording information by Philipp (

Recorded at Mountain and/or Metropolis and/or Olympic and/or Townhouse.
Released in February 1991 on the album Innuendo

A stunning, powerful ballad,but unfortunately a very underrated song. I´ve hardly ever seen a song, which has so great dynamics and emotions. Queen show that they can have silence as well as over the top power in one song, mixed together with complex musical structures. Before writing this article, I haven´t listened to this song for a long time. But now, as I´ve rediscovered it, I´m pulling my hat before Queen. Innuendo is probably one of their best albums, and this song contributes to this. Listen to it at night with headphones!!

Roger´s drumming is powerful, but economical. As there are lots of quiet gaps, Roger probably made a demo-guide-track to have an overview and the perfect timing. In the basic track, the ride cymbal plays the most important role. There isn´t a Hi-Hat used and only in the chorusses and in the bridge are snare, bass, toms and crash cymbal joining. The low toms also does some the impressive fills. Snare and toms are heavily reverbed.
Overdubs: Many of the crash cymbal rolls in the fills and the quiet parts are overdubbed. There´s lots of panning in those rolls.In the solo, a shaker plays in the synths

John most likely used his Fender Precision. The sound-setting is very warm with lots of sustain.Recorded via D.I. and with some EQ and compression.

Played by Freddie on a Korg M1 and are slightly flanged and reverbed.
- One keyboard play with a choir-aah-sound (similar to no. 53 in the General Midi list). It´s to hear best in the first verse and at 1:22.
- Two keyboard-tracks are playing with string-pad sounds. One keyboard has a slow-string-sound (50) and does mostly the background chord-carpet. The other one plays with more attack (49/51) and play among other things the bass-notes before the solo.
- Then there are these pearling sounds, that are sometimes appearing in the first verse. That is a ice-rain (aka water) - FX.(no. 97)

- First, Brian recorded the clean-guitar. This track is mostly playing arpeggios and chords in the verses, solo etc...and the harmonics in the intro and outro.
- Then there´s the distorted rythm guitar, which is playing in the chorusses and the bridge.
- In the bridge thee´s also a short choir-interlude:
Two guitars are playing slightly left, two other guitars slightly right and then all four guitars together.
- The solo-guitar starts fading in from left to right and is then playing the solo (what else) in the middle.
All guitars are played on the Red Special (what a sound!) plugged directly into the desk. Effects are by Zoom.
- The clean guitar is slightly delayed (50ms) and has a stereo-chorus (primarily used to dirve the signal stereo).
- The distorted rythm guitar has a nice crunch-sound from the tubes and a stereo-chorus.
- The choir-guitars are full of treble and also have a chorus, but the chorus-setting has more modulation intensity this time.
- The solo-guitar has a slowly modulated flanger and a stereo-delay with very silent feedbacks.

Freddie´s great lead-vocals are reverbed and have a gentle stereo-delay in the chorus. In the bridge Brian, Roger and Freddie are doing backing vocals with 4-5 voice tracks. Shortly before the solo, there are also some voice samples used.

Thanks to Matt for some tips.

By the way:
I've read lots of reviews of Innuendo, but strangely no-one ever mentioned this song in his review. There's much speculation about the main-writer of this song. Most people used to think John had written it because, apparently, there had to be a song by him on every album. While that happened most of the times, it didn't happen always as, in fact, John wrote no full songs for the Innuendo album and Don't Try So Hard is Freddie's.