In October 1985, mere months after Queen’s iconic performance at Live Aid, Freddie Mercury was recruited by his dear friend, British Invasion pioneer Dave Clark, to record the track “In My Defence” for a star-studded concept album based on Clark’s sci-fi/rock musical Time. The session at London’s Abbey Road Studios went so swimmingly that, Clark tells Yahoo Entertainment, Mercury asked him, “‘Have you got any other songs?’ I said, ‘Well, I have got the title track.’ And that was called ‘Time.’ I played it to him. He was totally committed, which is where this all came from. He was amazing.”
So, three months later, Mercury returned to Abbey Road to record that second song (which Clark co-wrote with John Christie), and Clark describes the day as absolutely magical. “Before any musicians came in, it was just Freddie and [session musician Mike Moran playing] piano. He sang, and it gave me goosebumps. Nobody was there. It was just amazing. I can’t even explain it. Then of course, when everybody came in, we ended up with 48 tracks of backing vocals. … And the end result, with all the musicians and production, ended up at 96 tracks.”
But now, for the first time ever, Mercury’s original, pared-down “Time” — captured that day in January 1986 when Mercury was, as Clark puts it, still “buzzing” from his Live Aid triumph — is being released under the song’s full title, “Time Waits for No One,” stripping back those 96 tracks to a version with just one: Freddie Mercury.
Clark never forgot that moment, and he spent a decade trying to unearth Mercury’s lost vocal track. “I thought, ‘I’d love to hear the original performance,’ but I couldn’t find it. It’s because we did so many tracks. I sent my engineer down, and we went through [the vaults]. Couldn’t find it. So I let it go. A few years later, I said, ‘Go on. Go through all the banks again.’”
Clark finally retrieved the audio from his tape archive last year and restored it at Moran’s studio in Buckinghamshire, England — though he sat on it for while longer, because he though it would be “wrong” to release it while the publicity campaign for the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was still in overdrive. Eventually, when the time was right, he surprised Queen manager Jim Beach with the track. “He came over to my house, and before we started talking, I said, ‘I’ve got something I’d like to show you that might make you smile.’ I didn’t say what it was. He loved it.”
Clark also commissioned a brand-new video for the recording, cut from original negatives and unused, unprocessed 35mm film footage from the 1986 “Time” video shoot. Listening back to the recording and watching the new clip, Clark still gets goosebumps. “Even more so now,” he stresses. “Yeah, I think ‘time waits for no one,’ it applies to all of us, on whatever level. You could go and win the lottery tomorrow, or we don’t know what’s around the corner. It’s not heavy in any way, it’s just that we’ve all got to enjoy ourselves. The world’s not in a great state. It’s sad. You’ve just got to enjoy every moment.”
Freddie Mercury’s “Time Waits for No One” can be streamed and downloaded here.
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