Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Freddie's voice over the years

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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 16:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi, I tend to listen to the same eras when listening to bootlegs.... mostly '82, '84, mainly due to the tone and power of Freddie's voice. Last night I couldn't sleep so started listening to random '80s gigs and then working back.

I really under estimated the power in Freddie's voice during this period. It really did seem to hit a peak, with a mixture of power and confidence at trying the higher notes.

I think i was always swayed to 82, due to mainly those opening lines of STL and the power he put behind them... wonderful stuff.  But now I'm not sure.

I'm no singer, but I love karaoke, and I find that at the age of 30, my voice is more powerful now than it was even a couple years back (but still ghastly mind you). Are there any singers out there that can explain if Freddie's voice just changed as he aged or was it much more technical?

Which era do folk here prefer?


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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 17:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



 



Zebonka's Tiny Ding-a-ling wrote:



Hi, I tend to listen to the same eras when listening to bootlegs.... mostly '82, '84, mainly due to the tone and power of Freddie's voice. Last night I couldn't sleep so started listening to random '80s gigs and then working back.

I really under estimated the power in Freddie's voice during this period. It really did seem to hit a peak, with a mixture of power and confidence at trying the higher notes.

I think i was always swayed to 82, due to mainly those opening lines of STL and the power he put behind them... wonderful stuff.  But now I'm not sure.

I'm no singer, but I love karaoke, and I find that at the age of 30, my voice is more powerful now than it was even a couple years back (but still ghastly mind you). Are there any singers out there that can explain if Freddie's voice just changed as he aged or was it much more technical?

Which era do folk here prefer?


I like it all, up until the magic tour and his solo works, regardless of the shape of his voice and the notes he managed to reach. I liked the sound of his voice, quite addictive, he had a gorgeous timber, and I always appreciated the musical cleverness behind his singing - he was able to create, innovate on spot, live, and it was very rare for him to go out of tune, very rare.

Now, the shape of his voice never seemed that good to me live: he started off with a cracking, sometimes all too mannered and affected voice; then, his voice faded out for some time; about the end of 1979, his voice began to sound more powerful but at the expense of any delicacy and usually at the expense of the tempo of many songs. I think there's too much oversinging between 1980-1982. He reached an interesing balance in the gigs in the very end of 1979, but many songs sounded dull or too hasty.   

But he sounded overall very good in the News of The World Tour, perhaps his best live performances come from there, in my opinion. So the answer would be: News of The World Tour, especially the gigs in Kopenhagen, Holland or even at Earls Court, for that matter, or in Houston.   

Came the Works and Magic Tours, his voice started to decline again and fade away, and then he ended up sounding really terrible, very strident and unpleasant, but then he was already quite ill.

I like it all, but not really because of the shape of his voice, but more because of his cleverness and his way of interpreting the songs live, sometimes re-creating them and adding in excitement what it lost in shape. I loved his choice of notes and his uncanny hability to stay in tune even during the most tortuous and difficult verses.

There are five songs in which I think the shape of his voice really made the song happen: Action This Day, Staying Power, Another One Bites the Dust, Hammer to Fall and Dragon Attack. These songs were absolutely devoid of purpose or excitement if his voice was in bad shape, so, in this regard, yes, 1980-1982 would be a good period. 

At the same time, he could be absolutely wasted and sing Somebody to Love, We Are The Champions, BoRhap, Tie Your Mother Down, Spread Your Wings and even It's a Hard Life just wonderfully.    



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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 18:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Yara wrote:


Yeah, I agree about gigs late '79... I think he sang really clear and well, but there was this razor sharpness about it that personally I did not prefer to other periods. I can still see why fans would say he had reached his peak, but again for me that came in the very early 80s.

Came the Works and Magic Tours, his voice started to decline again and fade away, and then he ended up sounding really terrible, very strident and unpleasant, but then he was already quite ill.

Do you mean live or in the studio? I wasn't aware that his illness had any direct impact on his voice in 86. Is this fact?

Do you think he could have sang say a complete setlist from 79 or 80 in the Magic period live? I mean would he have sung these songs well?







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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 18:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree 100% about how clever he was live... I could listen to Save Me from every gig I have from when he first started singing it til the last... and each version or change in note etc sounds stunning!


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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 19:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Zebonka's Tiny Ding-a-ling wrote:



 



Yara wrote:



 


Yeah, I agree about gigs late '79... I think he sang really clear and well, but there was this razor sharpness about it that personally I did not prefer to other periods. I can still see why fans would say he had reached his peak, but again for me that came in the very early 80s.

Came the Works and Magic Tours, his voice started to decline again and fade away, and then he ended up sounding really terrible, very strident and unpleasant, but then he was already quite ill.

Do you mean live or in the studio? I wasn't aware that his illness had any direct impact on his voice in 86. Is this fact?

Do you think he could have sang say a complete setlist from 79 or 80 in the Magic period live? I mean would he have sung these songs well?







Sorry, I didn't make myself very clear there, you're right. I mean Innuendo, the late stuff really, when I talked about the illness - just my personal taste, I don't like the way he sounds. 

As for your question, yes, no problem at all - he could have done the whole 79-80 setlist in the Magic Period, I see no problem as far as the Game goes. And there were very early songs, such as Liar and In the Lap of The Gods, that he always handled very well live - Liar sounds great in some of the Works gigs and In the Lap is thrilling in the Magic Tour, so. I think he would have handled Save Me just as well as Love of My Life, same goes for Play The Game.

I think except for some Hot Space songs, such as Action This Day and Staying Power, he would have handled the songs quite well. I think he puts some very impressive performances in the Magic Tour, and when it comes to the subject of hitting notes and so on, the Works and Magic Tours are the way to go: it's all very high-pitched compared to previous performances, and songs such as It's a Hard Life were at times performed, like in Birmingham, better, to my taste, than in the studio album. Same goes for Liar in the Works Tour, some very interesting performances. He was becoming a better musician too, so even if his voice suffered a lot, the beauty of the lines, the choice of notes, the cleverness behind the singing was very impressive. 

There are songs he just never managed to handle live: Killer Queen is the most obvious example. Despite being a hit, they omitted the last verse, which is the hardest to tackle for the singer, and played it ridiculously fast, elimitating all the tenderness of the song. Freddie's falsettos usually - though it got a bit better in the Works and Magic Tour, for instance - sounded horrible live, though, so that'd be probably a reason - he was poorly trained and I think quite insecure on stage, despite all the showmanship.      

Anyway, I liked his live singing, though not for the reasons people usually like it. 

I'd go for the News of The World Tour, but then I'm hugely biased because it's my favorite Queen album. :)) 

Regards! 





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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 19:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Yara wrote:

There are songs he just never managed to handle live: Killer Queen is the most obvious example. Despite being a hit, they omitted the last verse, which is the hardest to tackle for the singer, and played it ridiculously fast, elimitating all the tenderness of the song.


It's funny, I've never really thought about why KQs last verse was omitted... this makes perfect sense. It was never one of my favourites live either.

I'm not a huge fan of Magic tour... possibly because I played LAW to death when I was younger. I think each song had too much of a planned feel. Each gig sounds very similar too... and i don't just mean set-lists. Each song recital sounds very similar in each concert during 86 (IMO).
That said... I loved the way STL changed from 82 to 85... and would loved to have heard how he may have performed it in '86. i first thought it sounded a little lazy in the works tour... but having heard a couple of superb renditions of it during 85 Japanese gigs, I think it had a wonderful upbeat and joyful ring to it. When he sings "I'm Okay, I'm alright"... he sings it so playfully. Fantastic stuff! It's truly amazing how different the same song can be sung an how he gave it a fresh slant year in year out. (9th May 85 is one of my favourite gigs).








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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 22:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Yara wrote:



Sorry, I didn't make myself very clear there, you're right. I mean Innuendo, the late stuff really, when I talked about the illness - just my personal taste, I don't like the way he sounds. 

As for your question, yes, no problem at all - he could have done the whole 79-80 setlist in the Magic Period, I see no problem as far as the Game goes. And there were very early songs, such as Liar and In the Lap of The Gods, that he always handled very well live - Liar sounds great in some of the Works gigs and In the Lap is thrilling in the Magic Tour, so. I think he would have handled Save Me just as well as Love of My Life, same goes for Play The Game.

I think except for some Hot Space songs, such as Action This Day and Staying Power, he would have handled the songs quite well. I think he puts some very impressive performances in the Magic Tour, and when it comes to the subject of hitting notes and so on, the Works and Magic Tours are the way to go: it's all very high-pitched compared to previous performances, and songs such as It's a Hard Life were at times performed, like in Birmingham, better, to my taste, than in the studio album. Same goes for Liar in the Works Tour, some very interesting performances. He was becoming a better musician too, so even if his voice suffered a lot, the beauty of the lines, the choice of notes, the cleverness behind the singing was very impressive. 

There are songs he just never managed to handle live: Killer Queen is the most obvious example. Despite being a hit, they omitted the last verse, which is the hardest to tackle for the singer, and played it ridiculously fast, elimitating all the tenderness of the song. Freddie's falsettos usually - though it got a bit better in the Works and Magic Tour, for instance - sounded horrible live, though, so that'd be probably a reason - he was poorly trained and I think quite insecure on stage, despite all the showmanship.      

Anyway, I liked his live singing, though not for the reasons people usually like it. 

I'd go for the News of The World Tour, but then I'm hugely biased because it's my favorite Queen album. :)) 

Regards! 



I think it's my favourite abum as well.

The few versions of Killer Queen I've heard doesn't dound that well... except when they played it in a medley (without the last verse, as you siad...).  But I think it sounds great... makes you wish they had played the whole song...

I think he hardly ever did falsettos live, actually... I don't know anything really about this, but shouldn't to sing with falsetto be easier...?.




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Posted: 02 Mar 09, 22:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think Freddie's voice was starting to strain in The Works tour. Sure he sang songs wonderfully, and he used a bit of trickery to get everything sounding great - but at some performances it's obvious to see he was either very tired, worn out...or just suffering from something, AIDS, nodules, smoking, whatever the case.

Liar, It's a Hard Life, I Want to Break Free, among some of the songs that seemed to really be affected, even though sparingly throughout the tour, as some performances were fine.
I wouldn't go so far to say it was horrible, as it was [ in my opinion ] possibly due to the fact that they toured relentlessly  for Hot Space, and the songs on Hot Space seemed to give Freddie some trouble.
And interesting enough almost all songs were dropped after the HS tour [ save for Under Pressure, and Staying power - the latter almost always gave him some trouble ] but when it came around time to sing older stuff, Somebody to love, and The Game songs during HS tours sounded fantastic.




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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 00:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



N0_Camping4U wrote:

but at some performances it's obvious to see he was either very tired, worn out...or just suffering from something, AIDS, nodules, smoking, whatever the case.


At that stage AIDS didn't come into it.  That was something that only started to manifest from '87 onwards.  It was definitely the cigarrettes doing it.







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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 00:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Crisstti wrote:

I think he hardly ever did falsettos live, actually... I don't know anything really about this, but shouldn't to sing with falsetto be easier...?.


Surprisingly, no it isn't.  Well, there are some folks who can pull it off but it depends on the kind of voice you have.  It's a difficult sound to produce on a loud stage when you have trouble hearing yourself.  Making it sound good is another kettle of fish altogether.

I'll always appreciate his Wembley performance of "In The Lap of the Gods" all the more, for the fact that he did bother doing some of the falsetto at the start.  Heh.







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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 03:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Zebonka's Tiny Ding-a-ling wrote:



 



Yara wrote:



There are songs he just never managed to handle live: Killer Queen is the most obvious example. Despite being a hit, they omitted the last verse, which is the hardest to tackle for the singer, and played it ridiculously fast, elimitating all the tenderness of the song.



It's funny, I've never really thought about why KQs last verse was omitted... this makes perfect sense. It was never one of my favourites live either.

I'm not a huge fan of Magic tour... possibly because I played LAW to death when I was younger. I think each song had too much of a planned feel. Each gig sounds very similar too... and i don't just mean set-lists. Each song recital sounds very similar in each concert during 86 (IMO).
That said... I loved the way STL changed from 82 to 85... and would loved to have heard how he may have performed it in '86. i first thought it sounded a little lazy in the works tour... but having heard a couple of superb renditions of it during 85 Japanese gigs, I think it had a wonderful upbeat and joyful ring to it. When he sings "I'm Okay, I'm alright"... he sings it so playfully. Fantastic stuff! It's truly amazing how different the same song can be sung an how he gave it a fresh slant year in year out. (9th May 85 is one of my favourite gigs).







Somebody to love was indeed a song whch Freddie sang with many variations. And he sang many amazingly beautiful intros. You mention Tokyo 9/5/85 and that show is just stunning. It's one of those shows I can listen to over and over again. The shape of his voice was fantastic and what he did with that was very creative and wonderful. The intro to Somebody to love, impromptu,... so many outstanding moments.


And the thing with Freddie is: he was such a great musician. A nice melody came so easily to him. At times his voice was shot but even then he could sing a certain line... and I would absolutely love it!
For example: I was listening to Tokyo 24/4/79, more specifically It's late and suddenly he sang some lines so wonderfully that it made me jump around in excitement:-)








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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 04:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

What I really like about Queen is that studio and live Queen are 2 different animals. And the band members themselves were very clear about that. The live show was not them trying to play the songs as close as possible to the studioversions but it was a total show. There are several things that I find very clever that almost seldom get mentioned. For example the way they built their show: Freddie's big entrance, then 2 fast, energetic songs, Freddie greeting the audience and getting them all excited, a slower song, a medley, building to the next climax, some accoustic songs, then the next climax, etc. They absolutely knew what they were doing, how they could make maximum impact.
Freddie doing sing alongs with the audience, he always gave them just not enough time to sing the line he just sang and he went crescendo. And the result was the audience singing louder and louder:-)

I'm absolutely sure Freddie could have sung better live but I think we would have lost more than we gained! Now, he combined being a great singer with being an incredible entertainer and showman. And as I said in my other post, even if his voice wasn't in the greatest shape, he could at times still do wonders with it. I would recommend everyone to listen to many shows without thinking about the albums and to just enjoy the version from that specific gig. Of course there are many versions of songs not noteworthy but there are plenty of wonderful moments too.

I agree that Killer Queen wasn't always great, but sometimes Freddie sang that one wonderfully too( London 10/12/80 or Oakland'80). One of the things I regret is that we do not have more good recordings of some tours where Freddie's voice was in good or great shape(NOTW'77, Crazy tour, US'80). I really hope new things from those tours will surface.


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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 05:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree. An EX recording of 4/12/1979 Newcastle would be a dream. I think that must be Freddie's best vocal performance caught on tape.




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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 05:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Interesting to read:)

I disagree with Yara regarding his voice during Innuendo and later.

I think it is a different voice but it grabs me. You hear his pain and still, he is performing to give everything he has. The Show Must Go On is a nice example but also Dont Try So Hard and Mother Love.

Besides that, the whole Barcelona album is breathtaking! Guide me Home is so amazing beautiful.


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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 06:03 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote







Zebonka12 wrote:





It was definitely the cigarrettes doing it.



Would he have had that same rawness and power in mid 80s if it hadn't been for cigarettes?






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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 07:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Rick wrote:

I agree. An EX recording of 4/12/1979 Newcastle would be a dream. I think that must be Freddie's best vocal performance caught on tape.

Oh yes, that would indeed be a dream! When reading Greg's Queen live book the most interesting part for me was that they have recordings of several Crazy tour gigs(2 Manchester nights, Liverpool 2nd night, Brighton, maybe also Alexandra palace). I don't understand why they can't release Hammy'79 on DVD coupled with another Crazy tour gig. It would not only make Queen fans happy, it would show the world how amazing Queen in concert could be.









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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 07:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Sunshine wrote:

Interesting to read:)

I disagree with Yara regarding his voice during Innuendo and later.

I think it is a different voice but it grabs me. You hear his pain and still, he is performing to give everything he has. The Show Must Go On is a nice example but also Dont Try So Hard and Mother Love.

Besides that, the whole Barcelona album is breathtaking! Guide me Home is so amazing beautiful.

The show must go on is for me the ultimate Freddie moment. The power, the range, the expression in his voice. It's all there!

And Barcelona, do you have the big set with the rarities discs? for some time I was addicted to those discs:-) Hearing Freddie creating his works is just awesome. The Barcelona disc shows how motivated Freddie was to create something magical with Montsy, and in my view he did.








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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 07:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



on my way up wrote:



 



Sunshine wrote:



Interesting to read:)

I disagree with Yara regarding his voice during Innuendo and later.

I think it is a different voice but it grabs me. You hear his pain and still, he is performing to give everything he has. The Show Must Go On is a nice example but also Dont Try So Hard and Mother Love.

Besides that, the whole Barcelona album is breathtaking! Guide me Home is so amazing beautiful.


The show must go on is for me the ultimate Freddie moment. The power, the range, the expression in his voice. It's all there!

And Barcelona, do you have the big set with the rarities discs? for some time I was addicted to those discs:-) Hearing Freddie creating his works is just awesome. The Barcelona disc shows how motivated Freddie was to create something magical with Montsy, and in my view he did.







No unfortunately, i play Barcelona to death as well....what a great way to wake up with:)

I'd love to hear those tapes but i cant find them anywhere:(

TSMGO brings tears in my eyes...







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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 08:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Zebonka's Tiny Ding-a-ling wrote:

Would he have had that same rawness and power in mid 80s if it hadn't been for cigarettes?


Power, he always had.  It was really the tone, the colour if you will, that was changing in his voice.  Cigarettes had a huge impact on that of course but then if you look at his voice once he'd stopped smoking (I'm thinking of The Miracle here) he really had the best of both worlds - that big, mid 80's sound, and the potential to do very fiddly, lyrical lines.  The Innuendo and Made In Heaven tracks are another thing altogether because he'd gotten quite ill by then.







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Posted: 03 Mar 09, 10:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm not sure about the power thing to be honest, his earlier concerts don't seem to be powerful if you compare them to most of the 80s concerts. His voice did get stronger in that respect but as others have said he loses his delicate tone to his voice.

I really enjoy the Kopenhagen 1978 show (best Spread your wings till the crazy tour) The Crazy tour is probably Freddie's best overall and its amazing to watch Freddie getting ever more daring with those high notes during the Newcastle 4th show to the point where by Now I'm here he was going pretty much hitting every single high note. Most of the 1980 shows are amazing, the first leg of the South America tour is IMO the most under rated tour, he has some stunning shows there, the highlighting being the C5 Freddie hits in WATC. The 82 European tour is divided into 2 really, the first half wasn't too stunning but from about Frankfurt onwards his voice became stunning again. The 84 tour saw his voice become powerful but he suffered, possibly because of a rather tight tour list. The highlight of 1985 has to be the first two shows from the Japan leg where his voice seems to be very open, its like the high notes aren't any real effort and there is no strain, almost completely in contrast to the magic tour. Saying that the first 7 dates or so of the Magic tour are great, and indeed Stockholm and Leiden are up there with some of his best 80s shows.


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