Here’s the piece I wrote for the brochure, for the new Queen Studio Experience, in the Casino on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
Welcome to beautiful Montreux ! Freddie, Roger, John and myself spent countless hours here, staying in various lodgings, including Chalets in Blonay, apartments in Montreux and beside the lake, and hotels, including the Eden au Lac and the splendid Montreux Palace. We walked the streets, swam in the lake, (and sometimes attempted to water-ski on it) ate and drank to quite a high standard, drove around the mountains, and breathed the good air of this usually sleepy little town.
But most of the time, we ate, drank, discussed, argued, planned, and – yes – played our instruments – in one building, Mountain Studios, part of the Montreux Casino complex. We spent so much time here that we began to feel like residents, and indeed Freddie eventually bought himself a beautiful flat bordering the lake, where he was able to spend some peaceful hours towards the end of his life, away from the prying eyes of the Media.
Montreux Studios was an absolutely state-of-the-art recording facility in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s; equipped with acoustically well-designed tracking and control rooms, a massive Neve desk with flying faders, and world-class engineer in David Richards, the facility already had a fine reputation when we, as Queen first worked there in 19 …., working on our ‘Jazz’ album, and the ‘Live Killers’ CD. Although it was quite possible to record all instruments in the st’udio itself, we often used the much larger area of the Casino auditorium to set up our gear, so we could play in an environment which was close to a concert situation, at full volume, interactively, ‘as live’. The large volume of this massive room also enabled David Richards to record us (especially the Drums) with the right kind of natural ambience, to make the performance sound huge. On the inner spread of the ‘gatefold’ album sleeve for the Jazz album, you can see us in this set-up. You can hear the effect very clearly on the “Innuendo” track, in which that huge sound is all real and ‘live’. The basic sound was in those live recorded backing tracks.
Many of the subsequent overdubs and other works on the tracks were done in the control room, and it is this room which we have carefully reconstructed for the ‘Queen Studio Experience’. In those days, all the recorded information from each instrument, and every vocal, was stored on tape … initially on 2-inch tape, on those huge 24 track analogue tape machines, and later on 24 track digital ‘Dash’ machines. For many of our escapes, 24 tracks were not nearly enough to store all the overdubs we needed, so the ability to ‘lock’ two digital machines together was very useful. Groups of overdubs – for instance, choral vocal harmonies, could be ‘bounced’ down together to a stereo submix, and off-loaded on to a ‘slave’ reel of tape, making room for the next overdubs, or separate subsections of overdubs could be kept on separate slave reels. So on a typical day in the studio the air would be filled with music, the whirring of tape machines and cigarette smoke.
In the QSE, weve reproduced it all for your enjoyment, apart from the smoke ! The QSE gives you a chance not only to absorb the atmosphere of this great place of creativity, but to create your own mix from a Queen Multitrack tape. Enjoy !
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