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Posted: 08 Jan 09, 10:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

As many of you know, I used to update a thread on this topic every six months or so; after a couple of years, it's time for another one. Contributions, corrections, complements, controversies and any other 'c', are completely welcome.

First of all, some general comments:

- What's written on the credits doesn't necessarily reflect what actually happened (e.g. Pink Floyd's Speak to Me). Certain pre-made agreements (usually made for contractual, financial, legal and/or ethical reasons) may result in people being unfairly excluded or included in the credits. For instance, Come Together includes McCartney (who wasn't involved) but excludes Harrison (who wrote some lyrics for it).

- Just because a person's not a professional guitarist (e.g. Mercury), it doesn't mean they can't compose elaborate guitar parts (e.g. Bijou). Same with other instruments (e.g. May writing for drums, Taylor writing for keyboards and so on). Likewise, many great vocal lines have been penned entirely by people who aren't singers: Dust in the Wind, You're my Best Friend, Vaults of Heaven... in other words, you don't need to be able to play or sing what you're written, or do you think Mozart could sing all the bass, tenor, alto and soprano arias of his operas?

- It's hard to establish exactly what counts as (co-)writing a song and what doesn't: for instance, when Paul McCartney composed (i.e. wrote chords and melody to) Yesterday, it was George Martin who scored the parts for violins, viola and cello; but the song is still Paul's. Another famous case is GnR's Knocking on Heaven's Door: they wrote new parts for guitar, bass, drums, piano and even added some changes to the vocals and the chord progression (as far as I remember, the original goes alternates I > V > ii with I > V > IV, GnR only the latter), but the song is still Bob Dylan's: they're *merely* arrangers.

- On the other hand, sometimes an idea can be put by somebody and the actual song raises from that. Defining an absolute authorship is very hard in those cases as well: for instance, if I tell you 'it'd be nice to write a song about what a person thinks during binge eating', and you write the song, it's still yours (even if I put the idea). But what happens if someone develops the track from a chord progression or something? Should the other person be co-credited? If so, what happens with the tracks based on clichés, like I Want to Break Free (based on 12-bar-blues used for thousands of tracks before, during and after 1983)? What happens with Keep Passing the Open Windows, A Kind of Magic or Radio Ga Ga? There's no right or wrong in those situations.

- People's perceptions about the evidence vary: some trust deeply on what witnesses say (as in a police case), some others trust on physical (direct or indirect) clues. If Sherlock Holmes or Endeavour Morse existed, it'd be great to hire them for this thread, wouldn't it? Anyway, the point is: while some say that we can only trust the recollections of those who were there (and deem any other evidence as pure speculation), others believe that memory's bound to fail, while the other details (e.g. manuscripts, cross-references with other works, etc) are more difficult to be compromised. A true 'detective' work should be able to establish if certain song is, for instance, John Deacon's, in a similar way that criminal trials use experts to authenticate handwriting from a suspect, etc.

After all this (initially-meant-to-be-brief-but-you-know-the-story) introduction, the tracks themselves (I'm only included those credited to the band, not those who're credited to two people, like Thank God It's Christmas, Is this the World we Created or Mother Love):

STONE COLD CRAZY
Performed live from 1970 onwards (before Deacon joined)
Credited to the four of them on the 1974 release
Rumour has it that Mercury'd already written it for Wreckage

The music points to Freddie: G minor key, one-bar extension on the second cycle (as in Death on Two Legs: 'shark'). The solos, nice as they are, aren't difficult to compose, since they're mostly sequential. One of the closing scales even appears (almost note by note identically) on Great King Rat, further pointing at Mercury. Having a section over a static chord is also chiefly (but not entirely) Freddie-esque: Somebody to Love, All God's People...).

HANGMAN
Performed live from 1970 onwards (before Deacon joined)
Never released officially, thus no official credit
Brian confirmed to one of QZ posters (I'm not mentioning who) that he wrote the music and Fred wrote the lyrics. Barry Mitchell confirmed so.

Musically, it's harmony and structure are so simple that anybody could've written them. It's based on twelve-bar blues, first on A minor then on F Major. Considering Freddie, Brian and Roger were all Zeppelin fans, any of them could theoretically compose one or many songs with those details. So, in this case, the best evidence we can count on is indeed the recollection from Dr May.

SOUL BROTHER
Released on 1981, no official writing credt (as far as I know)
May credited it to Freddie on his soapbox (anybody remembers the date?)

Musically it's quite a simple track too. It's got a chord stream (bVI > bVII > I) which is reminiscent of what Mercury used to do at the time (e.g. Crazy Little Thing and, reversed, Play the Game).

ONE VISION
Released in 1985, credited to all four of them
Deacon admitted (GVHII) not being as involved as his bandmates

While the 'making of' video shows Freddie, Roger and Brian working together on it, it's evident that May's input on lyrics was only 'overseeing' the process, while the words were basically written by Taylor and edited by Mercury. Musically, Roger's shown explaining the riff to May, and the latter's playing the synth intro. Indeed, the music all points to May:

- The intro&middle-eight sequence is practically an updated Doing All Right progression
- The whole crescendo (adding one instrument at a time) intro is also May-esque: Keep Yourself Alive
- I>i modulation is chiefly (though not entirely) his trademark in the band: Teo, '39...
- Chorus progression is reminiscent of Hammer to Fall verse
- Middle-eight is based on the intro progression, which is more May-esque (Leaving Home, '39, All Dead...) than Mercury-esque (e.g. Keep Passing the Open Windows).
- Freddie's input on conducting Brian and Roger on their instruments could be regarded as arrangements more than actual co-writing.

PARTY
Released in 1989, credited to Queen
Taylor (Queen for an Hour, 1989) admitted not being present when they wrote it
David Richards credited Freddie for starting the 'we have a good time' theme
Mercury credited lyrics to all of them

Leaving lyrics aside, the song is very Freddie-esque:

- Intro on static chord (reminiscent of Let's Turn It On and Body Language, to name just two)
- Chord progressions are similar to those in the 'Hot Space' era (e.g. Staying Power, Body Language)
- G > A > B > C progression (in A Major) has an S-S-H motion, which is the same (though inverted in direction) as the Andalusian cadence Freddie used in some songs (e.g. It's a Hard Life, pre-solo, only on bass).
- A > C modulation is abrupt. In that area in particular, May used to pivot rather than phrase-switch (e.g. Back to the Light), so we can (with very little error margin) exclude him.
- The 'funky' guitar bit near the end is also similar to what Fred'd written for the 'Mr Bad Guy' album.

To be continued, edited, corrected, etc.



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 08 Jan 09, 15:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This is quite good.  Thank you for taking the time to write out and explain these songs.  I look forward to reading more.  Cheers!


"Fuck today, it's tomorrow." - Freddie Mercury
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Posted: 08 Jan 09, 17:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

KHASHOGGI'S SHIP
Mercury credited its lyrics to all four of them. So did David Richards.

Musically, the song's quite Freddie-esque as well:

- 'Who said that my party was all over' and 'we're having a miracle on earth' have virtually the same phrasing.
- Section over static chord: Somebody to Love, All God's People, Living on My Own...
- The way the verse progression is recycled for the scat bit (see also how Fred recycled bits from different sections in Bo Rhap and Black Queen, to name just two)
- The Dorian-mode ending's a nice cross-reference with Liar, Great King Rat and Was It All Worth It
- Structure and general harmony are closer to Body Language than any other Queen song

THE MIRACLE
Mercury credited the lyrics to all four of them. He also said that he and John made some chords and decided the theme (which btw is very different to having them writing *all* of the chords, *most* of the chords, *many* of the chords or even chords that ended up used).
May and Richards have credited it to Freddie several times.

Indeed the song couldn't be more Mercury-esque:

- Two-bar four-per-bar keyboards before lyrics begin (My Fairy King, Bo Rhap)
- E-Flat Major is virtually Freddie's homekey
- Non-square phrasing all throughout
- Loads of third inversions: Great King Rat, Bo Rhap...
- The way the key's brought back to C minor for the second cycle is reminiscent of We Are the Champions
- V > IV > I chord progression also used in Khashoggi's Ship

I WANT IT ALL
Recent releases already credit it to May

Indeed, the song's very Brian-esque in its musical aspects:

- i > I modulation and back (Teo Torriatte, Keep Yourself Alive, '39) executed similarly
- Intro+Verse+Chorus+Solo all over the same progression as in The Show Must Go On
- The way each chorus is scored, vocal-wise, is completely Brian-esque: Teo, Show, even his own arrangement of All the Way from Memphis

INVISIBLE MAN
QFAH: both Fred and Bri credited it to Roger. Bri did the same again for GVHII. David Richards also credited it to Mr Taylor

Music:

- Backing track sequenced very similarly to Action this Day in terms of riffs and rhythm
- Similar structure to One Vision (but not the harmony itself)
- Fragmentary short vocal phrases as in Rock It

A NEW LIFE IS BORN
Fred said (QFAH) that it was a separate song. David Richards credited it to him.

Indeed, music is all Mercury:

- Almost the same structure as Bo Rhap's intro (first a cappella and then piano enters).
- Indeed, it's a lot more musically advanced that Bo Rhap (intro again)
- The edited-out bit is very similar to Lily of the Valley in terms of harmony

BREAKTHRU
Freddie credited it to Roger (QFAH), and so did David Richards and Brian May many years later.

Omitting the modulation (which Taylor admitted not being his idea), the song's got six chords, all of which appear on Radio Ga Ga on the same functions and a similar order. The pumping chorus is very similar to that in Ga Ga and Action, though melody starts off a bit later here.

RAIN MUST FALL
Brian was asked about its music once, and said 'very much a Deacon area' (which doesn't necessarily mean John composed 100% of it, let alone the lyrics).

The song itself is so simple that anyone of them could've written it. But the whole C > Am/C progression is a bit reminiscent of Dm/C > C in Best Friend. The way it's later transposed also reminds me of You and I (middle-eight).

SCANDAL
Roger said to Bri 'I think this is yours' (although that was more related to the lyrics). May and Richards also have confirmed it as Brian's.

Music:

- The way the 'iv' function appears shortly before the end is similar to Too Much Love, from the same composer and around the same era.
- Square-phrasing all throughout, which is more May-esque (Freddie would've tried something more unusual for those situations).
- The third middle-eight is reminiscent of the break in Let Your Heart Rule Your Head, also from the same era.

MY BABY DOES ME
QFAH, May, Mercury and Deacon credited it to F&J. So did David Richards.

Music:

- i > III > IV > V progression is very similar to i > III > IV > VI > VII in Back Chat
- VI > III > iv > V > III > i in the middle-eight also sounds more Deacon-esque to me, but I can't explain why... yet.

WAS IT ALL WORTH IT
Both May and Richards have credited it to Mercury.

Music: http://sebastian.queenconcerts.com/f-wiawi.htm

INNUENDO
Lyrics were, reportedly, started off by Freddie and then completed by Roger.
Music was started by Brian, Roger and John and then taken over by Freddie.

Indeed its details are more Mercury-esque:

- Andalusian cadence (Great King Rat, Barcelona, etc)
- Middle-eight in 3/4 (Bicycle Race)
- The chorus progression is almost the same as the one in The Miracle
- The resolution at the end is reminiscent of My Fairy King



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 08 Jan 09, 19:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thank you Seb
Last part of Hangman very semilar on Ogre Battle


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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 04:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

outstanding demonstration, very nice work!

I had a few opinions, that you're actually invalidating, I guess I'd better listen to those songs again?!

cheers







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then forgot how to learn"

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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 05:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You once said you don't see Queen + Paul Rodgers as such, but as Brian May + Roger Taylor + Paul Rodgers, yet you said that doesn't mean you don't like their work (that remark was before Cosmos Rocks was released, though - so I don't know how you see them nowadays).

Do you think you could possibly make an analysis of the new album, point out the songwriting trademarks and such (either here on Queenzone, or on that section of your website for non-Queen music)...? I'd be interesting to read.



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We got the Cosmos rockin'!

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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 06:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Raf wrote:

You once said you don't see Queen + Paul Rodgers as such, but as Brian May + Roger Taylor + Paul Rodgers, yet you said that doesn't mean you don't like their work (that remark was before Cosmos Rocks was released, though - so I don't know how you see them nowadays).

Do you think you could possibly make an analysis of the new album, point out the songwriting trademarks and such (either here on Queenzone, or on that section of your website for non-Queen music)...? I'd be interesting to read.

totally seconding that !!

I love reading your analysis btw ... and would love to read one on TCR one day

cheers!








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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 06:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Re: Stone Cold Crazy and your comment "One of the closing scales even appears (almost note by note identically) on Great King Rat, further pointing at Mercury." I don't think you can make this assumption. Unless Fred wrote the guitar solo note for note for Brian to play (as he apparently did on Bo Rap) then it's more likely that Brian did here what he said he often does, i.e. just let his fingers fall into familiar patterns.


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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 07:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thanks.

Just a couple of confirmations really which I hope may help back you up:

Rain Must Fall: Yes, it is very much John - check out the tracks he did for the Biggles film, and it is almost identical musically (if not melody-wise). In fact the percussion intro may even have some of the same parts contained in it.

The Miracle: Yes, Freddie.  From memory, the piece that Brian wrote in the concert programme for the Freddie Tribute gig said something about how easily Freddie wrote songs that slipped between keys, and then he cited Play The Game and The Miracle as examples.

Keep up the good work on this - a very good topic, interesting (especially to the musos - and drummers! - here)and something that historically should be recorded for a band as important as Queen.

Cheers

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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 07:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"His [Freddie's] songs say it all [...] The Miracle, Play The Game and many others all have the finest shades of emotion among the bold strokes."

"The Miracle track, which is mainly Freddie, is a small masterpiece in its own way. And Was It All Worth It I really like. That's me and Fred, but more him. For that track we did all sit around and try to come up with rhymes and stuff. Roger's very good at that." etc. etc. etc.

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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 08:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Holly2003 wrote:

Re: Stone Cold Crazy and your comment "One of the closing scales even appears (almost note by note identically) on Great King Rat, further pointing at Mercury." I don't think you can make this assumption. Unless Fred wrote the guitar solo note for note for Brian to play (as he apparently did on Bo Rap) then it's more likely that Brian did here what he says he often dies, i.e. just let his fingers fall into familiar patterns.


Freddie did not do that on BoRhap... He asked Brian to come up with something for him. 







We got the Cosmos rockin'!

We got the Cosmos rockin'!

We got the Universe rockin'!

We got the Cosmos rockin'!

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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 08:16 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Sebastian wrote:

- I>i modulation is chiefly (though not entirely) his trademark in the band: Teo, '39...


I think this is not a valid argument: I-i modulation is the most common (or perhaps second most common, after half-step) modulation in classical music, and thus something anyone who has even superficial knowledge of classical harmony would be familiar with. Since all four members of Queen knew music theory (though, admittedly, in varying degrees), any of them could have introduced this.



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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 08:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



 



Raf wrote:



 



 



 



 



Holly2003 wrote:



 



Re: Stone Cold Crazy and your comment "One of the closing scales even appears (almost note by note identically) on Great King Rat, further pointing at Mercury." I don't think you can make this assumption. Unless Fred wrote the guitar solo note for note for Brian to play (as he apparently did on Bo Rap) then it's more likely that Brian did here what he says he often dies, i.e. just let his fingers fall into familiar patterns.



 



Freddie did not do that on BoRhap... He asked Brian to come up with something for him. 






Really? I thought we had a discussion about this when the BoRap masters were leaked and there was agreement that Freddie was responsible for virtually everything. For example, I thought the the hard rock bit after the operatic section in BoRap might've been Deaky's, but those with better knowledge of Queen than I said that Fred laid it all out and the band just followed his instructions.

My larger point still stands though: we can't assume Brian's similar guitar pieces in SCC and GKR mean that Fred wrote SCC. Although he probably did ;)
 







"With a population of 1.75 million, Northern Ireland should really be a footballing minnow. Instead, they could be better described as the piranhas of the international game" (FIFA.com)
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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 10:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Seb - fantastic as always, thanks a lot !


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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 11:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thanks so Much Sebastian. Always a "must read". I am looking forward to your analysis of Too much Love Will Kill You.


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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 11:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Really?
I thought we had a discussion about this when the BoRap masters were
leaked and there was agreement that Freddie was responsible for
virtually everything"


Well, On the Borhap documentary Brian says he could hear parts of the solo in his head when Roger, Freddie and John were laying down the backing track.


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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 11:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



FriedChicken wrote:

"Really?
I thought we had a discussion about this when the BoRap masters were
leaked and there was agreement that Freddie was responsible for
virtually everything"


Well, On the Borhap documentary Brian says he could hear parts of the solo in his head when Roger, Freddie and John were laying down the backing track.

Yeah, well, Freddie was obviously telepathically beaming Brian the solo, because he is God, right?



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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 11:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

How could I forget that!

Sorry Lord Freddie. Please don´t fire thunderbolts and lightning at my ass, o Lord.



"On the first day Pim & Niek created a heavenly occupation. Pim & Niek blessed it and named it 'Loosch'."



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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 15:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



FriedChicken wrote:

How could I forget that!

Sorry Lord Freddie. Please don´t fire thunderbolts and lightning at my ass, o Lord.

Very very frightening me!

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Posted: 09 Jan 09, 15:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Is this the point where another good thread turns to shit?


"With a population of 1.75 million, Northern Ireland should really be a footballing minnow. Instead, they could be better described as the piranhas of the international game" (FIFA.com)