Freddie Mercury’s ’Time’ Could Have Been Queen Song
The originally released version appeared on the soundtrack album to the acclaimed science-fiction stage show, which included Cliff Richard, Laurence Olivier and others in its cast. It enjoyed a two-year run in London’s West End.
Clark – leader of ‘60s British Invasion band the Dave Clark Five – recently completed work on a take that focuses purely on Mercury’s lead vocal with new piano accompaniment. It’s a far cry from the original, which had a total of 96 tracks, half of them vocal layers, and sounds much more like a Queen approach.
You can watch the new video below, followed by the original.
However, Clark said he didn't want to clash with the release of last year's Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. "I’ve been trying to do this for decades,” he told Billboard in a new interview. “I was trying to get it together for myself and I couldn’t find it until the end of 2017, when I heard they were starting to film. I thought it would be wrong to bring it out [when] the film came out. It was so big I waited until it petered off and died down a bit.”
Clark added "it was never a monetary thing to me. It’s the only unreleased Freddie Mercury track. We all know how good he is. But this shows how extra special he is when nobody knows and there’s nobody else accompanying him.”
He recalled that Mercury’s record label said there was “no way he’d ever do anything like that,” so Clark made contact with the singer’s closest friend, Mary Austin, who gave him the phone number of Mercury’s home in Munich.
“I phoned Freddie, and he said, “Oh, I’ve read all about it. You’ve got these amazing people. But you’ve come a bit late, dear,'" Clark said. "I said, 'I’ve got a track that I think is very you. I’m quite prepared to fly over. If you don’t like it, don’t feel embarrassed or whatever. We’ll have a drink or a bite to eat and I’ll fly back.'”
Clark noted that Mercury " loved the track." "He flew over a week later from Munich and we recorded at Abbey Road," he recalled. "He wanted to use Queen, and I’m a big fan of Queen. But I wanted to do something different. I said, ‘I’d like to use my guy. If he doesn’t work for you, I’ll pay for him to get Queen in.’ It worked beautifully. He started at six in the evening or later at Abbey Road, and he finished at six in the morning. He was just singing like he’d sing to 100,000 people or more.”
When Mercury asked how he should approach the vocal delivery, Clark told him, “Well, a cross between Edith Piaf, Jennifer Holliday and Shirley Bassey.” Mercury’s response: “Well, I have all their dresses, I can do it perfectly.”
“When you listen to it, it’s got all the emotion of [those three], but it’s Freddie," Clark said. "The nice thing about it is taking away all the things he’s surrounded with. … When he did his concerts with Queen, he’d say, ‘The bigger the better.’ One hundred thousand, he’d love it. But to take all that away and have that emotion of just him and a piano, in the back of my mind, I got goosebumps just thinking of him on his own.”
Queen + Adam Lambert launch their new tour next month. You can find ticket information here.