Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby Kes » Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:34 am

The suggestion WAS made that maybe similar events could be held for other albums, and it wasn't dismissed. Though you'd have to wonder if other studios would be as welcoming as Metropolis were, and in the case of something like Opera, which studio you could do it in.

When they "budgeted" for this event, they were hoping to sell about sixty tickets, but had that happened then the "audience" would have been in the main studio room, and not the control room. We really were jam packed in that room, and any more would not have squeezed in. This would have meant that you couldn't really Q&A during the playbacks, and they would have been separate things, so as it sat, it actually worked out better, and each track was covered in a better way.

The other thing to hear in mind, is that Metropolis is an "extremely" active studio, as they said ... 78% of all the albums in last year's UK top 75 albums, was either fully or partially recorded there, and/or had been mastered there, with many artists literally taking up residency there, so getting in the place at all, took a lot of accommodating, planning and co-ordination by all those involved.
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby sebastian » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:36 am

Kes wrote:Right, I'll try and flesh out and fill in the detail on a lot of what has already said.


And for that I'll always be grateful.

Kes wrote:Now Roger's a good singer, but it highlighted to me quite how special Freddie's final vocal turned out to be.


There's a nice quote about that, from Roger himself: 'when you get Freddie Mercury to sing something you've sung, you just realise your limits and how much further he could take something vocally.'

Kes wrote:I'm sure, had he been there, then the key questions would have been a bit deeper, and probing.


I'd love to think so, but I doubt it. You lot covered the main points (what Steve did and what Brian did, the synth sound on 'The Show Must Go On', the thing about the Fazioli, John's involvement, how Fred got in and out). Had I been there, there would've been no major difference for the Q&A. Timing was bad (I don't live in Britain anymore) and of course money was an issue, but I'm incredibly happy for, and (obviously) jealous of, everybody who went, though above all I'm thankful for sharing all those gems.

Kes wrote:Though you'd have to wonder if other studios would be as welcoming as Metropolis were, and in the case of something like Opera, which studio you could do it in.


Rockfield. It'd be a bit of a commute for most (coincidentally enough, I lived about forty minutes from there) but it'd be worth it, and since it's a residential studio, it could be turned into some sort of touristic weekend. Others could stay in Monmouth, which is lovely (been there a few times), make it some sort of 'SHA / ANATO Convention'. The London studios used for it, as far as I'm aware, don't exist anymore, although some of them have been reincarnated... sort of.
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby P.T » Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:06 pm

Kes wrote:Something I learnt was that most of the percussion you hear on TATDOOL are programmed. Like with Phil Collins and Genesis, it seems strange to me, when you have such a renowned percussionist in your band, that you'd use a machine instead of them.


It doesn't surprise me one bit. The percussion sounds on TATDOOL are lifted right out of the Korg M1. So are the synth sounds.
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby Kes » Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:48 pm

It doesn't surprise you when two of the world's most highly rated drummers programme a computer to play a drum part?

I understand it in the composition phase, I don't neccessarily understand it in the production phase.
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby Pingu » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:18 pm

Kes wrote:It doesn't surprise you when two of the world's most highly rated drummers programme a computer to play a drum part?

I understand it in the composition phase, I don't neccessarily understand it in the production phase.


I assumed PT meant not surprised as s/he recognised the sounds as being off that particular keyboard.

As for programmed drums - I sort of understand it as PC and RT both were more than 'just' drummers, very involved in composition/arrangements and so on, and I know Genesis in particular made a conscious effort to begin songs with drum machines in the 80s as it allowed them the 'space' to piece together their records, unlike the full-band-at-full-pelt approach they had in the 70s. I suppose the drum machine parts simply became part of the recordings.

And I doubt Keith Moon would have been happy with that approach. But around that time everyone from Whitesnake to ZZ Top to Def Leppard was sequencing/programming the hell out of not only "drums" but "bass guitar" parts as well.

Ah, the eighties.
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby P.T » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:55 pm

Kes wrote:It doesn't surprise you when two of the world's most highly rated drummers programme a computer to play a drum part?

I understand it in the composition phase, I don't neccessarily understand it in the production phase.


Not in the slightest. It's like questioning why a pianist wants to play a synth.

Rogef is a percussionist. His duty is to provide percussion. Programmable synths and drum machines were totally en vogue from the mid-80s and gave a bunch of new sounds that real drums couldn't. Given they were used on a handful of Queen's 170+ tracks I don't see the issue.

(Also TATDOOL is overdubbed with real drums in the middle section)
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby sbrown » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:29 pm

Kes wrote:It doesn't surprise you when two of the world's most highly rated drummers programme a computer to play a drum part?

I understand it in the composition phase, I don't neccessarily understand it in the production phase.


Yeah, but Roger didn't program it. Dave Richards did while the band wasn't there. He played it to them the next day, and Roger liked it and didn't want to change it.
I guess it's like Rog putting drum loops into Radio Ga-Ga. His responsibility as a composer and arranger has to be balanced against his desire to play and sing it all himself given he's in a band and working with a producer he trusted.

It's possibly also why he was annoyed that he's not on "I Can't Live With You". At the end of the day, it wasn't his choice.
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby TheHero » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:32 pm

brown wrote:

It's possibly also why he was annoyed that he's not on "I Can't Live With You". At the end of the day, it wasn't his choice.



1997 Rocks Retake had drums added, Roger's sweet revenge. ;)

phpBB [video]




And this is not Roger (I think) but you can imagine approximately how it would have sounded:

phpBB [video]
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby sbrown » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:41 pm

Thanks for the Rocks video. Hadn't seen that. And yeah, that's a great version of the song. I far prefer it to the original in general - the drumming really lifts it, but as with a lot of things at that time, the vocal repeats dropped in all over the place get pretty tiring.

As for the second one - I suppose it *could* be Roger doing an odd Russian accent for some reason. But given it wasn't his song, and the singer clearly isn't taking it seriously, I'm not sure why he would've done it. Maybe setting the mike levels for whoever was in the booth.
The only thing that makes me think it actually might be him is the timbre on "I try to make a high score" sounds uncannily right.
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby TheHero » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:52 pm

I agree it sounds like Roger there too.

How about this:

Roger was so disappointed with it, he decided to record his own parody version to show to the others what he thought about the song ? ? :lol:

Maybe there has been some mistake ? :mrgreen:

Honestly, I think this song would have sounded pretty good with Roger on lead vocals and drums. It would be a real rocker, a la Tenement Funster.
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby UEF » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:25 am

Thought I'd write down what I can remember for this, both for my own purposes (I'll forget) and also to share info for those who couldn't make it on the day.

Talk presented by Justin Shirley-Smith and Noel Harris, both assistant engineers on the original sessions. Sadly the producer, David Richards passed away in 2013 but he can be heard on the takes. Chaired by Matt Everitt of BBC 6 Music.
Location: Metropolis Studios, Chiswick, London

Innuendo

Working title for the song - “Bolero” (as written on tape box)

The first song we listened to. We spent about 2 hours on this song alone. Listened to various takes at various parts of the recording process. It (and a lot of the album apparently) was very much a creation of the studio; they’d sit there playing riffs and chords and mumbling until something took fruition.

Early takes consisted of Freddie playing the keyboard opening chords and mumbling a basic version of the verse melody. No real lyric at this stage. Lots of discussion between Freddie and Brian on which chords to use… “and that brings it back nicely to the E”, says Brian. Freddie calls out for a C# chord at one point.

We move to later takes in the recording process. By now, the song is sounding a lot more together. The verse is pretty much there, about half of the Spanish guitar bit and some of the ‘You can be everything you want to be’ section, not all of it.

A later take. By this point Roger has written 95% of the verse and chorus lyrics (minus mid sections) and has made a guide vocal for the song. The Roger version of Innuendo would make a great ‘demo’ to go in a deluxe album set. It’s reasonably complete.

We then listen to Brian and Steve recording the Spanish section. Brian has a go at doing the flamenco leads and they’re panned for comparison; Brian in the left channel and Steve in the right. Brian’s sounds pretty good! There’s a section of Steve’s line where Brian had to drop in a correction after he’d gone.

Also heard is the lower of the guitar harmonies playing the ‘All through my sorrow, through my splendour’ guitar motif

Brian has a few attempts at getting the end guitar run right. A band member suggests ‘we could change this, we could change that’. Brian replies ‘… or I could just get it right”. A long feedback section is recorded for the end.

At some point there’s some discussion on what to do next while an impatient roger in the background shouts ‘COME ON’ from the drum recording room.

Handclaps seemed to extend longer in the song than they do on the record.

I’m Going Slightly Mad

Freddie works this one out in the studio too. There are a lot of other “I’m not…” analogies tried before he settles on the final lyric.

Brian plays a different slide solo, some of the notes make it into the final version. It’s altogether not as good as on the record.

An ‘absolutely mental’ mix is played towards the end of the whole song. It’s utterly cacophonous and full of samples of screaming and random sound effects. Perhaps to be destined for a 12” mix or maybe dialled down to go on the record.

Headlong

A band member’s “Brian’s?” Handwritten chords on paper passed around. Song simply broken up into bars with a chord symbol in each.

Recording setup for the song revealed to be 2 Zoom 9002 units in stereo, to the desk. No AC30 for the effect sounds.

These are the Days of Our Lives

Like Innuendo, a Roger version of this is heard where he sings the full song (in much the same manner as he does for the current Queen + Adam Lambert tour)

Brian plays different trills in the verses.

Guitar solo is only half as long - the louder/faster section isn’t in the earlier take.

Some takes of the song feature Deacon playing a descending motif in the chorus on his bass. ‘These-are-the-days-of-our-‘ - that matches the vocal melody.

In another take the same idea is tried on the chorus but using a Deacy amp guitar harmony. Again matching the ‘These-are-the-days-of-our-lives’ melody. It sounds quite out of place. Sonically similar in timbre and pitch to the ‘You’re my best friend’ outro guitars. It was removed for the record, possibly (recalls Justin) because it sounded too linear.

Backing vocals are supplied by Brian and Roger at least on the takes we listen to.

Guitar solo is revealed to have been played on the Zoom 9002, for the delay sounds.

The Show Must Go On

Mostly a Brian solo record in its demo form. Brian has the intro keyboards from the off and sings the whole song. There’s a particularly high part (I take it with a grin, I’m never giving in, on with the show) where Brian audibly struggles to sing with full voice (its sung instead in a very thin head/falsetto voice) - the same part he’s said in interviews that Freddie hated him for writing. Apparently this was checked over with Brian beforehand as to whether he wanted it listened to by us or not.

Different guitar solos are played and there is some experimentation with harmonies in parts that aren’t quite right and would be further improved for the record.


The building / the experience

Metropolis Studios IS the Headlong video. Everything is there and looks like it did in 1991. The Art Deco exterior (that head the spotlights on it in the video) is the entrance /wall to the studio. The bookshelf the band lay on is there.

We enter and go up the flight of stairs to the bar, the same stairs that Brian is playing his guitar on in the video. The studio looks the same as it did in 91, very much a creation of the early 90s with purples, blues and shiny steel. Only small things like speakers and computer monitors have changed.

We’re shown the drum recording room, which is a fairly small concrete room of about 2.5 metres on each side.

The larger recording room has a piano in the corner, regularly said to be Freddie’s but actually not the case. Still a lot of people recording there have claimed (or been told) that it’s his. The story goes that they didn’t like the sound of the house piano when recording and had Freddie’s Steinway brought in instead. This now lives in Brian’s house.

We had our phones taken off us for the session so as not to record, and these were placed in the drum room.

At one point a Queen fan asks ‘I’m sure you chaps are very interested in where the microphones were positioned, but I came here to listen to the tapes’. The Q&A ceases for a while, and we do some quick runs through other songs.

The group is treated to a champagne reception, Moet et Chandon is served from a pretty bucket, and finger foods are served by waiting staff.

After the session the group is treated to a free bar in the ‘Mercury bar’ upstairs. Justin, Noel, Greg Brookes and other members of the Queen team laugh, joke and drink with the fans. Atmosphere is very informal and jocular.


The recording process

Brian: Shure SM57s for the guitar amp, with one (possibly Neumann) facing into the sweet spot, one further back in the room (not 100% on details). Brian played Pete Cornish TB83 booster in the control room, with a longer cable that would go to a single AC30 in another room. Brian never in the room with the amp unless for specific feedback purposes e.g. noise at the end of Innuendo. Some Deacy amp recording, presumably using TB83 as well. Zoom 9002 into desk for solos on Headlong and Days of Our Lives, possibly others. Brian would find the sweet spot on the amp himself by listening to treble booster noise on headphones and repositioning mic.

Freddie didn’t like wearing headphones to record vocals. Instead, they set microphone up on a stand in the studio approximately in the area where we were sitting. By his feet he had two monitors out of phase with each other to reduce spill into the vocal track. When listening to Freddie’s vocals solo, occasional band mix comes over from the monitors. This is an indelible part of the vocal track. Freddie used a Shure 85 (not 58!) for vocals.

Trivia

Brian came into the studios one day and heard drums int he distance. “Ah, Roger’s already here then” - he could tell from the sound which amazed the engineers.

When recording Delilah - there was an argument over whether to use the lyric ‘you silly goose’. It was put to vote and the camp was split roughly down the middle as to whether to include it or not. Noel Haris was given the deciding vote. He asked Freddie, ‘Would you say that to your cat?’. Freddie said no. So Noel replied ‘well don’t say it then, it sounds silly’. Freddie apparently told him ‘well what the fuck do you know, you’re sacked!’. Not sure how jokingly Freddie meant this, but Noel said he apologised later that day. The phrase later used on a mix of Slightly Mad. Noel said that his tactic for avoiding band conflict was to go and make coffee to remove himself from the room.

Brian messing around on guitar a lot between takes. At one point mixture of shredding and playing things like Johnny B Goode to other band members annoyance!

One untitled blues Jam in which Brian is very much leading the arrangement. John plays bass as if unsure of the changes or maybe working out something more elaborate.

Freddie had to enter the studio each day via a side entrance, with his bodyguard, to evade paparazzi who would stay at the front gate. The band and staff would eat locally some times in the week, and due to the location a band member would occasionally take a week off to be with their family. Part of the press treatment suggested to be part of the reason for moving to Montreaux for the later sessions.

I’ll write up additional bits and pieces when I remember them. All in all a fantastic evening and I really hope that the demos we heard get to be heard by others some day. There didn't seem to be any plans to do so, but I did express interest in people hearing the demos but also the multitracks of the released songs.
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby Kes » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:41 am

Was it a free bar?

I still had the champagne from earlier, but the bloke next to me had to get out his bank card, so I assumed it wasn't. ;-)
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby UEF » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:54 am

Kes wrote:Was it a free bar?

I still had the champagne from earlier, but the bloke next to me had to get out his bank card, so I assumed it wasn't. ;-)


Yes, it was!
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby Garibaldi_bcn » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:27 am

Please release all the Innuendo demos and outtakes in a Deluxe set!...
 
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Re: Innuendo. Back to the Tapes

Postby P.T » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:27 pm

Thanks for everyone's write-ups, very, very interesting. Did anything get said about the unreleased or unfinished songs from the sessions?
 
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