Here’s a treat. In 1986, Freddie Mercury recorded a song titled “Time Waits For No One” as part of the soundtrack/concept album inspired by Time, the musical put together by Dave Clark (of the Dave Clark Five).
The original version of the song, titled “Time,” featured drums and production flourishes and was a pretty “big”-sounding composition … but a newly-released alternate take is just breathtaking, as it features just the Queen singer‘s iconic voice and piano.
Some context, from the news release:
“Time” was the brainchild of Dave Clark, former leader of the hugely successful multi-million selling group The Dave Clark Five, and one of the UK’s most prolific and celebrated musicians, songwriters and producers. Time, the West End musical, which opened at London’s Dominion Theatre in April 1986, merged sci-fi, rock music and ahead-of-its-time special effects and multimedia. With a cast including Sir Laurence Olivier and Cliff Richard, it broke box office records and played to over a million people during its two-year run.
For the show’s multi-million selling star-studded concept album, Dave had a song in mind for Freddie (“In My Defence”), and despite industry naysayers claiming he wouldn’t do it, Freddie agreed to fly to London from his then home in Munich, Germany, to record the song at Abbey Road Studios in October 1985. Of Dave’s minimal band of four session musicians, Mike Moran, who had never met Freddie, was introduced on piano having known Dave for many years; such was the subsequent relationship born with Freddie that Mike went on to write “Barcelona” with the Queen frontman years later. The “Time” session was recorded in a haze of late nights and fueled by “fabulous food, vodka and Cristal Champagne,” courtesy of Freddie’s personal chef Joe Fanelli.
And more about Clark’s journey to bringing back the original version, which truly showcases the power of Mercury’s vocals:
Dave Clark had always remembered that performance of Freddie Mercury at Abbey Road Studios from 1986. The original had sold millions, and in his own words “worked.” But the feeling he had during the original rehearsal, experiencing “goosebumps,” hadn’t dissipated over the decades, and he wanted to hear this original recording – just Freddie on vocals and Mike Moran on piano. After much searching through the vaults to find the version without all the backing vocals, he finally retrieved it from his tape archive in the spring of 2018.
Bringing in original keyboardist Mike Moran to record a new piano track, restoring the huge potential of this historical performance at the latter’s studio in Buckinghamshire, Dave, firmly believing “the impossible was possible,” eventually produced the performance he had longed to revive – stripping back the 96 track version to a version with just one: Freddie Mercury.
But the audio needed a visual and Dave didn’t want to just cut old footage together. He had the negatives from the 4-camera shoot and the unprocessed film which was being stored for a time at Rank Laboratories in Pinewood but returned to Dave after his 2014 documentary Glad All Over: The Dave Clark Five and Beyond. A four-day lockdown in a special facility to pore through the negatives with his editor led to the discovery and production of this visual masterpiece, a perfect representation of Freddie’s “magic performance…he tasted every word.”