God Save The Queen

Music by Henry Carey, arranged by Brian May

Recording information by Philipp (PraxisNothaft@t-online.de)

Recorded at Trident Studios on 27th October 1974.
Released in December 1975 on the album A Night At The Opera

The Queen-version of the English national anthem is very famous, cause it was used close their concerts from the "Sheer Heart Attack UK- tour" in late 1974 up to the Magic Tour in 1986. This means that it is - besides A Night At The Opera - available on every live album and also on every live video by Queen.
It is really a very tasty version, a perfect choice to end up an album or a concert in great style. The title is very tongue in cheek, too.
This Queen-hymn features Brian's incredibly skilled musical craftsmanship very well. It's not just a guitar-version, but it's cleverly arranged with some new parts (at the end) as well. This is the definition of guitar - orchestra!

This wasn't recorded in one go.
There are two snares, one left and one right. They're doing the pressed rolls at the start and also somewhere in the middle. In the middle Roger uses a bass-drum and two cymbals that are hit at each other, like you can see it in marching bands and orchestras. Towards the end there's another cymbals - this time hit with sticks - which does the rolls. At the end there are two timpani (stereo: one left, one right).

You can divide the guitars into four "blocks" and they probably were actually recorded like this , i.e. Brian did all guitars for one block and then mixed all the guitar-tracks on one track to make room for the next ones.

Block 1:
These are the guitars at the start,which are playing in the center. From 0:09 till 0:25, four guitars.
Block 2:
From 0:26 till 0:53, five guitars. The lowest guitar of them plays exactly the same stuff as the bass, but one octave higher (that's because it is a guitar). Left channel.
Block 3:
From 0:26 till 1:08. The three high guitars in the right channel. They're getting much more quiet at the end but they're still there.
Block 4:
This guitar-load from 0:53 till 1:03. Three guitars (maybe double-tracked).

All guitars were done with the Red Special which went through a treble-booster into the "deacy amp" (the small germanium transistor amp by John Deacon).
The amp was then picked-up with a mic and sent into the console.
The different colours of the guitar-sounds are a combination of Pick-up-settings, the placing of the mic in front of the amp (very important!) and some EQ from the console. Brian used to throw a coat over the amp to cut out the harsher treble-frequencies (thanks to Mr. Straughan for this information!) when it was necessary.
There is a piano recorded by Brian as a guide for the guitars, then edited out. That was done on the famous 'Hey Jude' piano at Trident.

By The Way:
The track doesn't seem to come from the recording sessions for A Night At The Opera, as it already was played (from tape!) on the concerts of their "Sheer Heart Attack-tours" which was long before they even started to record something for the next album. So it either comes from earlier recording sessions (presumably the ones for Sheer Heart Attack), or they used an older, rougher version for the pre-A Night At The Opera-concerts and recorded it properly later on. I've never heard God Save The Queen from one of the Sheer Heart Attack-concerts, so I can't say anything about it. The earliest live-recording, I've heard of it so far is the one from the Hammersmith Odeon, Christmas 1975.
If it actually comes from the Sheer Heart Attack-sessions, it is very probable that it was recorded at Rockfield Studios, cause this is the only studio where parts of both albums (Sheer Heart Attack and A Night At The Opera) were recorded.