Lyrics written by Freddie & Roger, music by Freddie.
Recording information by Philipp (PraxisNothaft@t-online.de)
Recorded between 1989 and 1990 at Mountain Studios, Montreux, and possibly Metropolis Studios, London.
Released in January 1991 as a single and in February 1991 on the album Innuendo.
More than a year of total silence and then suddenly: The Queen is back with a no.1 smash.Yes,1991 was a big year for Queen with several no.1 singles and albums, but sadly it also was the last year with Freddie (happy birthday, by the way!). The song itself is highly complex and intelligent. The song goes through several sections and is full of incredible instrumental performances.
Drums and Percussion:
Like every Queen-epos, Innuendo needed some structure-planning and the making of click-guide-tracks, but then Roger could start.
- Main-section: The heavy drum-kit-track(80 bpm) is played without overdubs on a Ludiwg-kit. The Crash Cymbals are by Zildjan. It contains a snare(great rolls!), bass-drum, hi-hat (mostly opened), about 3 crash cymbals (placed ad lib.left and right) and some low toms.
- Flamenco section: Some guys of the band (impossible to say who) are clapping hands to 6/4, 5/4 and 3/4 bars with 140 bpm.
- Orchestral section: Possibly Roger, though most likely synth-generated. There are triangle-rolls, tiny bells and timpani (all separate tracks)
- Metal section: Features the Ludwig-kit again (superb drumming by Rog.). In the big fill, back to the main-part, there´s a low pitched, reverbed snare-fill overdubbed. The rest doesn´t contain anything new.
Not much to tell.The bass could be a Fender.Maybe recorded via D.I. They probably used a compressor to straighten the tone and give more sustain to the sound. John only does play in the main-part. The other bass-stuff is done by keyboards.
Mostly played by Freddie on a Korg M1.
- Main section:One keyboard-track with a synthetic string-sound (midi:52) plays the hook. Another string-sound keyboard plays bass-notes. Then there´s an organ-sound keyboard which plays a small overdub in the intro. In the verses and the chorus there´s a keyboard which is playing synth-brass chords and fanfares (64).
In the fermate, before the acoustic-guitars are starting, the sounds are all flanged.
- You think the flamenco-section is synth-free?-sorry,but there´s a small bowed-glass-sound (93) overdub at the very end.
- Orchestral section: The rythm-carpet is done with two keyboard-tracks. One plays synth-string-chords (51/52) and the other one plays pizzicato-bass notes (46). Another string-pad keyboard plays single notes in the right channel, whilst there's a woodwind-section-sound, which follows the vocal phrasings in the left channel. Then there's a also track with pizzicato-string chords. The fill at the end contains additional brass-sounds and the whole "orchestra" comes together to hit the Ab-notes unisono. There are also some bell-sound effects, which seem to be computer-animated. All in all this section is quite a mess and it´s hard to tell which keyboard plays which sound at which time, but this is an approximate description.
- Metal section:In this part the strings are continuing, as well as orchestral hits and the pizzicato bass.
Some played on the Red Special, others on Gibson Chet Atkins Classical Electric (it looks and sounds acoustic but is actually electric), plugged directly into the desk. Effects are by Zoom. All guitars are played by Brian, with the exception of the solo guitar in the flamenco-part, which is done by Steve Howe.
- Main section: There are only two guitars for most of the time (slightly left-right). One guitar doess the chords, whilst the other one plays the intro-melodies. Besides of that, they´re both doing rythm stuff. The stunning guitar run at the end of the song is wandering through the panorama. A third guitar is overdubbed in the second verse (plays a small solo-lick).
- Acoustic-part: Two guitars. The melody-guitar is left, the rythm guitar is right.
- Flamenco section: It starts with rythm guitar, solo-guitar (right) and harmony-guitar (left). Then the solo-guitar is wandering more into the middle and a second harmony-guitar is joining (right). The second harmony-guitar disappears again after some bars.
- Metal section: One guitar starts (melody), then a second one is joining (harmony), finally a third one plays the solo.
- Main-part: Lots of high-gain distortion and a bit of chorus.
- Metal section: High-gain distortion, chorus, treble-boosting. The first guitar has an octave-harmonizer in the repeat (few depht). The solo-guitar has a small delay.
- Main section: Freddie's superb lead-vocals have a delay (about 100 ms) and reverb.
The "answer to the questions"- line in the third verse was created without delay-tricks. Freddie just recorded several, rythmically messed up takes. The fat backing-vocals (yeah-yeah-yeah) are done by Freddie. There are up to 6 different notes, but the voices were doubled to get a thicker sound. I suppose he needed at least 12 tracks.
- Acoustic part: Freddie´s delay has less depht in this part. He also recorded three backing-doo-tracks.
- Orchestral section: The lead vocals are panned from one side to the other. The backing-vocals-tracks have three different notes, but they´re also doubled. There´s also a short backing-vocal-panning.
Many thanks to Matt for some helpful tips.
By the way:
The excellent video by DoRo has won several awards. Innuendo is also famous for being the longest British no.1 single ever. Queen topped their own record, which they held with Bohemian Rhapsody before. Innuendo is actually the third longest Queen-song ever, but it only has no.11 when you also count the solo-projects. The song is credited to Queen, and fairly so as it originally stemmed from a jam session featuring all four of them (Freddie on synthesiser). The 'through the sorrow' bit was worked on separately by Brian, the waltz part ('you can be anything you want to be') by Freddie (he originally recorded it on piano rather than synths) and the flamenco part was a Brian/Freddie collaboration. Lyrics were started off by Freddie, finished by Roger (who also sang a demo version).