Written by Dave Clark, David Soames and Jeff Daniels (for the musical "Time")
Recording information by Philipp (PraxisNothaft@t-online.de)
Recorded in October 1985 at Abbey Road Studios, London and at Musicland Studios, Munich.
Released in May 1986 on the soundtrack-album of "Time".
Note:This is about the original version, which was released in 1986, not about the 1992-remix that appeared on "The Freddie Mercury Album" and on "The Great Pretender" (US-album).
This wonderful and moving song is a part of the stage-musical "Time". Dave Clark,the maker of the musical, who was producing a soundtrack-album with the "Time" - songs sung by famous pop-stars, suggested Freddie to record this song when he met him in summer 1985. Freddie agreed, but only under the conditions that he could use his own session-musicians (i.e. Brian, John and Roger). However, Dave already had booked his own musicians for the Abbey Road Studios.
They found a compromise, meaning that they would do the backing-track with Clark's musicians first and if Freddie would be incontent with the results, Clark would finance new sessions, this time with Freddie's musicians. Of course, Freddie was satisfied with the recordings. This was quite a lucky accident, as it was during these sessions that Freddie would meet Mike Moran (who worked with him on his solo-projects from that time on).
The collaboration with Dave Clark and his people worked out so well, that Freddie would do even more stuff for the album.
The drum-tracks (as well as piano, bass and some synths) were recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. The drums were played by Graham Jarvis. His kit consisted of two crash cymbals, a heavy low-tom, two mid-toms, a high-tom, a hi-hat, a bass-drum and a snare-drum, as well as a small ride-cymbal. The hi-hat is panned very slightly left, the snare is a bit right and the crash-cymbals are left-right as well. There's some additional panning during the big fills around the solo. Mr. Jarvis is a very good session-drummer who knows exactly what to play and what not to play.
The drums are slightly reverbed.
The bass was played by a certain Alan Pask. It's mixed into the center throughout. Mr. Pask used a fretless five-string bass. The bass seems to have been recorded via D.I.,with some EQ and compression added. He also plays very economically.
The piano was played by the brilliant Mike Moran who met Freddie for the first time during the sessions for this song. He had a car accident one day before they started recording and he suffered of some cracked ribs, but he did a splendid job despite of that. His piano-lines are beautiful.
The grand piano was recorded with about three mics. One was mixed slightly left (the one for the lower notes), one is in the middle (mid-range) and one is slightly right (higher notes).
There are also some overdubbed mega-low notes somewhere around the 2nd verse and the solo.
Keyboards and Synths:
Some parts were played by a certain Peter Banks (recorded at Abbey Road Studios), other parts were done by Freddie (at Musicland Studios).
The song starts with a fading-in tremolo-string-sound.
At 0:18 there's a string-pad (low sound) which does a small fill.
During the first chorus, the strings are playing very faintly in the background.
At 1:06, a higher string-pad plays a high-pitched note and then there's a fill with the tremolo-strings.
In the second half of the second verse,the low strings (with the slow attack) are starting to play some bass-notes and the high strings joins in for high notes and chords. This arrangement continues this way for most of the rest of the song. During the solo, the low strings are playing some faint notes.
In the break at 2:27, the low strings are mixed very sharply at the left side, whilst the high strings are right.
The lines around 2:35 are played by the low strings and at 2:42 the high ones are fading in again. The song ends as it started, with the tremolo-strings.
The guitars are were played by Paul Vincent (this guy also played the guitars on Mr. Bad Guy and imitated Brian's guitar-sound on "She Blows Hot And Cold". On this cut, he also sounds a bit like Brian.).
His guitar-parts were recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich.
The guitars (except for a fill in the third chorus) are only to hear in the solo. There's the lead-guitar (in the middle) and two harmony-guitars, which are also in the middle at first, but then they're going left and right. He obviously used something like a treble-booster and maybe a distortion-pedal. It's also possible that he recorded the guitar-tracks directly into the desk.
I can't say anything about his equipment.
There's a huge choir of Freddie-vocals at 3:13, which was recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich. It consists of many different notes which were all tracked several times. The very high-pitched notes almost sound like synths, but it's all voices. There aren't effects, either. Freddie was able to double-track his voice so accurately that it would "phase".
Freddie's beautiful lead-vocals (recorded at Abbey Road Studios) were - believe it or not - a first take. They made several other takes, but the first one never could be improved. Freddie was really superb!
The line "oh help me god..." was not part of the original take, but it was added later.
Like all other tracks, the lead-vocals have some gentle reverb.
By the way (this going to be a lot!):
Originally, Freddie was planned to record only this song, but his performance on "In My Defence" stunned Dave Clark so much that he also offered him the title-track ("Time"). At the end he even wanted to record a third song, called "Born To Rock'n'Roll", but it never surpassed the demo-status as the duty of singing this song was already given to Cliff Richard.
Freddie liked the stage-production of "Time" so much that he actually appeared live in the musical on April 14th 1988 at the Dominion Theatre in London West End.It was a charity-gala (called "Give To For AIDS") and he appeared together with Cliff Richard and Laurence Olivier. All funds that were raised went into the Terence Higgins Trust.Freddie performed four songs: "Born To Rock'n'Roll", "In My Defence", "Time" and "It's In Everyone Of Us". It was his first and only solo-live-performance EVERY (the two with Montserrat Caballe were mimed).
One of the first people who heard the completed "Time" - album was Sir Laurence Olivier (as Dave Clark played it to him). When "In My Defence" was over,he said: "What a performance! THIS is a real actor"