Brian has been talking to Rick Beato on his Youtube Channel… in an episode breaking down the track ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
What Makes This Song Great? QUEEN (Feat. Brian May)
RICK BEATO: Okay, so how much did you rehearse this song?
BRIAN MAY: Oh – no we didn’t. We didn’t rehearse it at all. Well, you know it was a kind of rehearse and record situation in the studio. You know we went in there with ideas and we’d start playing around, but in the case of John and Freddie and Roger, they would pick things up very quickly. They would sort of throw things at each other and very quickly they’v be very much in sync.
And you’ve probably listened to the backing, on its own, and it’s immaculate, isn’t it? Freddie himself was like a metronome, but a metronome with a lot of balls. It had a bite to it in the way Freddie hit that piano. So he was incredible to play with and the occasions where I’m doing the backing track with him, it’s astounding. But Roger would immediately lock in and Deacy had an amazing knack for just finding the right pocket and the right place to be, and so, no, it wasn’t really. It was like “Let’s” … Freddie would play it, and in the case of this, I remember playing it down in pieces. Like, this is this piece, and this is this piece and when I “Okay”. And then “Let’s try this piece” and we’d play it a bit then and Roger would join in, Deacy would join in. I’d be in the Control Room, and pretty quickly it would come together. So if that counts as “rehearsal”, that’s it I suppose.
And generally, whoever was manning the tape machine would be running the whole time just in case something good happened, and generally by the time they’d run it three or four or five times, they had it. They’d have the one.
And in those days we didn’t do edits on multitracks really. Occasionally, very very occasionally, we’d try and edit on multitrack but generally we wanted a good take and we’d do it until the take was good.
RICK: The tuning is astounding…
BRIAN: He [Freddie] had amazing…. He’s a self-made man. He went in the studio, when we first went in, and he’d been singing with us live. We’d been rehearsing, writing and everything, and he was pretty out of control, I have to day, and even he knew it. You know, he’d run around screaming and posing and whatever, but the vocals would be all over the place. He went in and we laid four tracks down, and Freddie said: “I’m not having this. This is not good enough. I don’t wanna sound like that”, and he went in again and again and again and worked on it, listened to it coming back and moulded himself into that singer.
So by the time he’s done ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, he’s phenomenal. After ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the record after that is “A Day At The Races” – listen to a song called ‘You Take My Breath Away’, he does an introduction for that where he has multitracked it all himself, and it’s so close. It all phases. He’s so accurate. Yeah, it’s incredible. That’s not an effect. There is no effect in there whatsoever. You listen to it, and it’s all his delicately phasing with itself. All the separate parts – beautiful. I never heard anyone do that to quite that degree of perfection.
RICK: Next the piano enters…. “Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see….”
Out of phase sound – as Brian explains