Written by Freddie Mercury
Recording information by Philipp (PraxisNothaft@t-online.de)
Recorded in August 1973 at (the old) Trident Studios.
Released in February 1974 as a single and in March 1974 on the album Queen II.
Best known as Queen´s first hit. Although it´s probably the most commercial song on Queen II it surely doesn't lack originality and quality.
Drums & Percussion: (all played by Roger)
The drums were surely the first thing to be recorded, besides bass,piano and maybe some guitar. All played by Roger, of course. The toms and the bass-drum were tuned quite low. The toms have this stereo-panning again, so that the fills are going slightly from one side to the other. Apart from these thing, Roger also used snare (well, of course), hi-hat (very slightly right) and about two crash cymbals (one left, one right). Roger added a tambourine-track (0:58 - 1:48).
John used a Fender Precision Bass. He recorded it via D.I. and added some EQ to get this fat, "bassey" sound. John's runs are quite tricky and fast, but unfortunately quite hard to hear.
The piano was recorded with two mics and was played by Freddie. It doesn't play always, but is fading in at several points and after some bars it fades out again. It sounds like a jangle piano rather than a grand one (compare it to the rest of the album and notice the difference).
There are quite a couple of guitar tracks, more than you probably think when you hear it for the first time. At first, Brian did two rythm guitar-tracks. They´re mostly playing the same, but there are also several different parts. One of them also plays these noises behind the solo. They´re building the sound-carpet together with drums and bass. On a good stereo with big'n'loud speakers it even is a real wall of noise.
Then there are three tracks, that are playing multi-layers and solo-fills:
the small multi-tracks in the intro and the second verse, the solo-fills between verses two and three as well as between verse three and solo. Two of them of them do that echo-part after the solo. Then they play the multi-layers in the last verse, which are very in the background. And they're playing together with the solo-guitar some solo-stuff in the outro.
The solo guitar is the easiest to hear as it is mixed very sharp into the foreground. It plays the solo, of course, and it plays the main-part of the outro-solo... and not to forget the little fanfare of the Mighty Titan's troubadours.
All guitar tracks are played with the Red Special. The rythim and solo-guitars are done with VoxAC30 amps. I suppose the other guitars are also done with a Vox, but don't quote me on that.
Brian uses a warm and heavy tube distortion and a good bass-portion. The solo and multi-layer guitars have a bit more treble, of course. The echo after the solo has a delay-time of about 400-500 ms and the echo-repeats last about two bars. Brian sometimes builds feedbacks with the rythm guitars.
Backing vocals (Roger,Freddie,Brian):
Not very much for Queen II-standarts. There´s a three voice backing-vocal track (From lowest to highest note: Brian, Freddie, Roger). Roger gave on some parts an additional very high note to it (almost screaming), which was probably bounced together with the other backing vocals. The Eq-setting for the backing vocals has lots of treble. The last couple of backing vocals (I´ll survive) is not done with echo (as it seems to be). It´s just often repeated and slightly fading out (again warm thanks to Roger for his "screamin´" - stuff).
The lead vocals (by Mr.Mercury):
Nothing spectacular to say about that.
He recorded a second track for the last verse, where he does a second voice along with the first track ("Then I´ll get you" till "troubadours")
And not to forget:
The drunken studio-crew, doing an old English ditty at the end of the song. I don´t know how many people are to hear there, but they make quite a noise. It even seems that they did some special mastering for that one:
There were perhaps more mics used to record that... you can even hear different voices in the stereo-channels :)