Read all 4 events for 23 January at diary.QueenSongs.info
Written by Queen
Recording information by Philipp (PraxisNothaft@t-online.de)
Recorded between January 1988 and January 1989 at Olympic Studios and/or The Townhouse and/or Mountain.
Released in May on the album "The Miracle" and in October of the same year as a single.
An absolutely stunning song, full of passion and emotion, played with excellent musical skill and it is masterfully written, arranged and produced. The wonderful lyrics are not only about failed romance, but they are also criticizing the press and their behaviour towards certain band members.
Drums & Percussion:
The drums in this song are very powerful (especially towards the end).
Roger recorded a basic drum-track first (together with guitar and bass) and then many overdubs were added.
All elements (especially snare and bass-drum) were heavily reverbed. The hi-hat is panned right, the crash cymbals are left and right and sometimes have a very slight flanging effect. During the guitar-solo, there's a ride-cymbal, the toms have stereo-panning, too.
To the drum-kit-tracks were additional drums added. These are reverbed hits (you mostly hear only the reverbed signal, only with karaoke-trick you can spot the actual sound) on some kind of low toms. In the 1st verse this hit comes on every fourth snare. In the second verse it's a slightly different kind of hit, but it appears after a similar kind of scheme. These hits are appearing most of the time and you can hear them best with karaoke-trick.
Then there's a computer-generated hi-hat (slightly left, playing a 16-notes-rhythm), joining the real hi-hat. It is doubled (very hard to hear) by a tambourine-sound (also computer-generated). This tambourine is constantly fading in and out. By the time the bridge ("so let them know...") comes, the computer-hi-hat is gone, but the tambourine continues (panned left). It's much louder now, but later it gets much more quiet again. However, it never stops playing. It also appears in the pre-lude (the very beginning of the song without drums) and thus is the only percussion-element that is playing constantly.
Around 0:33,1:04 and 1:41 there's a percussion-element I couldn't identify at first, but I knew that my keyboard also can do this noise. So I looked up in the manual of my keyboard and there I read that is is called "vibraslap". Ok, so that's what Roger plays at this point.
John's Bass was recorded via D.I. and it really pumps the track. He used maybe some EQ and compression, but apart from that there's no FX. John either used a Fender Precision (red one?) or his Giffin natural wood finish bass.
Keyboards and computer-stuff:
There's a string-pad which is always gettin' louder, fading back a bit, getting even louder, etc...
Then there's also a keyboards with a piano-sound, playing some licks.
And there is a blubbering sound which is constantly "morphing".
This one is obviously computer-generated and treated with some kind of "random step filter".
The blubbering continues (after some seconds of non-existance).
A keyboards with "slow"-strings plays the riff (mostly hidden behind the guitars, but it also plays alone once).
1st Verse: (0:44 - 1:23)
For the first half nothing new happens (keyboards and blubbering continue), but in the "they'll see" - part there's an additional string-pad, which is laying a sound-carpet.
2nd Verse: (1:24 - 2:02)
Same sounds as in the first verse (they play with variations,of course).
1st Bridge: (2:03 - 2:23)
The blubbering continues as happily as always. The "carpet" - strings are very quiet now, but they're still there. There's a new keyboard, playing (mostly) staccato-chords with an organ-sound.
3rd Verse: (2:24 - 2:42)
Blubbering continues and the keyboard behind the guitar-riff plays again.
Solo: (2:43 - 3:07)
The blubbering is still alive, but there's also the "carpet"-keyboard and the "string-wall" from the pre-lude.
Interlude: (3:08 - 3:44)
The blubbering is at the right side first, then goes left for a loud burst at 3:25 and then disappears behind the sound-walls again.
The "carpet"-strings are also somewhere (very hard to hear) and the riff-strings are playing behind the guitars.
2nd Bridge: (3:45 - 4:05)
The organ-sound from the first bridge is back and there's also the "carpet"-pad somewhere (hard to hear again). The blubbering almost disappears.
Outro: (4:06 - end)
The riff-keyboard is playing again (with a different sound compared to one it used at the beginning of the song. This sound is more brass-like). The blubbering is still somewhere, but it is almost inaudible.
A lead-guitar (distorted) plays an unisono-bend.
It starts with two rhythm-guitars -one left, one right (the right one plays higher notes)- and an additional guitar on the left side, which is playing some grumbling licks with the whammy-bar. Then there are four guitars, playing this famous riff (spread very slightly left and right). At 0:32 there's a fill by a heavily filtered and distorted guitar. All in all there are 8 guitars in this section alone.
The choir (the four guitars) is continuing, as well as the rhythm-guitars (this time they're doubling). The filtered guitar also appears once.
In the second half of the verse there's one guitar that is playing rhythm and another one that is playing single-notes (the two guitars are almost melting together). One of the guitars does a fade-in at the end of this section.
The first half is similar to the first verse (only the rhythm-guitars are much harder to hear). The second half is the same, but at the end of this section the rhythm-guitar is fading in at the left side and does a fill.
The left and right rhythm-guitars are playing again, then there's a single-note-guitar which is playing in the middle.
The four-part-choir continues (with variations), the single-note-guitar is playing lead and the filter-guitar is also appearing twice.
At 2:33 there's even another guitar, playing a power-chord with a tremolo-effect.
The single-note-guitar is panned right and plays along, whilst the rhythm-guitar from the second half of the verses is playing (almost inaudible) under the solo.
The solo is played by a new guitar (obviously a different sound to the lead-fills by the single-note-guitar). At the end of this section, the single-note-guitar is wildly going around the stereo-panorama, whilst playing unisono-bends. The solo-guitar joins at the very end.
The "tremolo-guitar" is back at the beginning, then there's the filtered guitar again. The choir returns and there are two the rhymth-guitars with power-chords.
At 3:29, there are three additional choir-guitars adding notes and volume to the other four. If I counted right, then there are 11(!) different guitars in this section.
There's only one (was Brian having a break?) guitar in this section. It's a clean one.
In the fill from bridge to outro the two rhythm-guitars are fading in.
They are panned and faded around a lot for the rest of the song. At the left side there's an ascending lick (with a slight filter-effect) and there's a lead-guitar which is playing licks whilst being panned around wildly.
All guitars were played by Brian on the Red Special. Except for the one in the second bridge, all guitars are distorted. Most of them also have a chorus-effect. All guitars are reverbed and/or have a tiny delay. They also went all through the treble-booster. The tremolo-effect probably comes from the amp.
So most of the guitars went through an effects-pedal (including chorus, built by Pete Cornish) and the treble-bosster (also built by Pete Cornish) into two VoxAC30s (for stereo-recording).
Thanks to Mark Reynolds and Olly Straughan for some information.
Freddie's voice is mostly reverbed and treated with a small delay.
For most of time only the lead-vocals are to hear (center).
In the second half of the first verse there's an "ooh"-voice in the left channel, which is also sung by Freddie. In the second bridge a higher voice is doubling the lead-vocals ("tomorrow hard times"). It's Freddie singing with a falsetto-voice. This bridge also features a choir consisting of 3-4 voices singing "ooh". In the interlude and in the outro, there's a choir saying "Scandal". I heavily suppose that this was done with a vocal-harmonizer, i.e Freddie sung one note and the machine added two notes. This and the fact that they probably filtered them heavily explaines the "clinical" sound of these vocals.
By The Way:
This is unfortunately one of the most underrated Queen-song, at least the most underrated single. It was the fourth single from "The Miracle" and peaked at no.25 in the UK. It's maybe ok that they didn't put it on "Greatest Hits II", as the other tracks on this album were all more successful, but definitely would have deserved a place on "Greatest Hits III" as part of the "overlooked single-hits" like "Las Parablas De Amor","Princes Of The Universe" and "Thank God It's Christmas". Most of the fans would surely have had preferred this track over the rap-version of "Another One Bites The Dust".