Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Freddie's live voice

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Kahle33 user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 19 Jul 12, 07:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

First I want to say that Freddie is my idol and I don't want this to sound like I am bashing him. On his worst day (Japan 1979) he has better vocals than most people on their best day.


But I could never understand why he sings most of the high parts of the songs down an octave during live shows. A good example is the ending to "Somebody to love". Amazing on the album, but he never sang it live in that fashion. Or even small high parts (high part in caps)

"We are the champions my friends and We'll keep on FIGHTING till the end"

"Momma life had JUST BEGUN but now you gone....."

He'd always sing it down an octave. Now there are a couple explanations I've come up with for this: 1) Its recording tricks and he couldn't hit those notes (highly doubt that since he has hit high notes live on occasion and the recording session of We are the champions shows him hitting it really high) 2) During recording he is putting his best voice forward and simply can't do that live everynight without injuring himself. 3) He wants to change things up at the live show (I doubt this)


Of course you could also say he had throat problems in the late 70's, but in 1990 he was still able to blow minds with "The show must go on". So that doesn't seem like the ultimate problem.

So why does he sing songs lower live?


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Posted: 19 Jul 12, 10:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

normally if you listen to bootlegs that are done towards the very beginning of a tour, freddie sounds in perfect shape, and sings songs for instance that line in Bohemian Rhapsody, pretty much like the original record. But if you listen and compare to right at the end of a tour, for instance the japan 76 ones his voice cracks like mad at the songs because theyve been touring for months


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Posted: 19 Jul 12, 16:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie suffered from vocal nodules which caused him vocal instability in live settings. Nodules can really mess with your vocal stamina, register switching, and can cause random vocal breaks (even in lower pitches).

He had to be realistic: If you are singing high-ranged songs night after night, it's going to take its toll on your voice (especially if there's something already impairing the vocal cords).

In the studio, he could focus more on breathing and can do multiple takes until he's satisfied. In a live setting, you only get one chance.

There's numerous recordings out there that have Freddie sounding amazing and pars his studio stuff (Crazy Tour, 1981 shows, Live Aid, etc), then you get the recording where his voice is toast (Japan 1979).

Which makes live shows fun to listen to (you don't know what's gonna happen next)!



I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury
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Posted: 19 Jul 12, 17:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

how do you explain that Freddie's voice has dramatically changed from April 79 (japanese concerts) to August 79 (saarbrucken)?

I don't believe just because the Freddie's voice rested for 4 months, because at the beginning of the live killers tour did not have the crystal and clear voice that he had from Saarbrucken to milton keynes...

at that time something must have happened to his voice..

little foetus user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 19 Jul 12, 17:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie sounded already quite tired at the end of the American tour at the end of 1978. He had only 3 weeks off before the European Tour so his voice did not have time to rest. And it was even worse in Japan.

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Posted: 19 Jul 12, 19:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I was wondering, is the 1979 tour the cause why Freddie started smoking? to strengthen and improve his voice.. or did that come from experience of singing for 10 years? I'm assuming he said to himself that there's no way that something like that (for example, Japan 1979) happens to his voice ever again.

Gregsynth user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 19 Jul 12, 20:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie rested his voice after the Jazz Tour (though he did start the recording sessions for Live Killers overdubs and the first couple songs on The Game). He also probably started working on his vocal technique and took some sort of singing lessons (either formal or informal). There's no way his voice would improve by vocal rest alone. Saarbrucken was a test for his "new voice," and made it through the set sounding very strong throughout, and was hitting notes cleaner (his mix and head registers became much stronger).


I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury
bootLuca user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 20 Jul 12, 03:16 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I also think the same thing or something very similar... but who is that has "taught singing" to freddie mercury? :-)

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Posted: 20 Jul 12, 08:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

its like with athletes. they are injured more than never and over the years their bodies get weaker and can not perform like they once could as same as Freddies live voice


Black Queen marches
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Posted: 20 Jul 12, 08:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



bootLuca wrote: I also think the same thing or something very similar... but who is that has "taught singing" to freddie mercury? :-)

I found this interview where Freddie talked about his singing:

Interviewer : You suddenly hit some high notes on this Album, which some of them are pretty astounding.

Freddie: I know, I used the Demis Roussos' method : you get a pair of pliers under the frock and go 'crack'.

Interviewer : You haven't had any operatic training then ?

Freddie: No, not really. I just listened to Montserrat Caballe a lot, you know. No, no not at all. I just have a range depending on what mood I'm in just goes up and down and I think with this Album I've had a little bit more freedom, because I've had more songs. So I've had, you know, a bit of scope to actually try some of my sort crazy ideas. Let's see.

http://queen.musichall.cz/en/interviews/freddie-mercury-the-bigger-the-better-85.html

on my way up user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 20 Jul 12, 08:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie is a bit unlucky in terms of bootleg/roio representation since some of his worst tours have plenty of recordings (Japan '79, Works '84) while some of his strongest tours have very few recordings (Crazy tour, NOTW US'77, US'80).
Imagine having 5 more (good-sounding) Crazy tour recordings... We'd immediately have more recordings to prove Freddie could be mind-blowing live.
That said, while there is a fair amount of average or even pretty weak shows (compared to his studio performances), there's also lots of shows where he sounds incredible (European 1980 shows, 1981 South-America, NOTW 1978, Euro Hot Space 1982)


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Posted: 20 Jul 12, 09:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

There's also an element of voice protectionism going on as well. Why blow your voice on the third song trying to hit the high note when you've got another hour or so to go?

Vocal mistakes and errors and cock-ups do happen in the studio, but they're edited out. A song is sung, re-sung and re-sung again in the studio, sometimes over many weeks. If he blows his voice in the studio he'll just go away and rest if for a couple of weeks.

If his voice goes on stage he's looking at upsetting thousands of people not only on that show but future ones on the tour.

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Posted: 20 Jul 12, 16:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I hate this whole argument. Who in their right mind thinks that Freddie ever went into a studio and nailed the vocal first time then went home? The recorded vocal was done LOTS of times before an acceptable take was recorded.
Check the Bo Rhap master for an example.
Now moan and bitch about his live vocal not being 100%
Now think about the bootleg tape you are listening to and remember he has been doing this for the last million nights in a row.
Grow up children.

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Posted: 21 Jul 12, 05:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It was a different world then than today!There was no voice correction,'Autotune' or whatever.Freddie had to pace himself during a big tour,you couldn't just go on and do a hundred shows then like you could today.If you watch the Montreal 81 shows he is on fine form,mainly due to the break in dates,I feel.I saw the Stones a few years back towards the end of their tour and Mick held back on the notes,and he had nothing like the range of Freddie!

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Posted: 22 Jul 12, 11:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I say if you want perfection then just listen to the record! Live singing and entertaining is what Freddie was all about and so what if he did not get perfect notes

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Posted: 26 Jul 12, 16:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Gregsynth wrote: ... He also probably started working on his vocal technique and took some sort of singing lessons (either formal or informal). ...


Do we have any documentation of this anywhere?


"You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely." - Ogden Nash
Gregsynth user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 26 Jul 12, 16:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No, but the audio bootlegs give pretty ample evidence that his voice strengthened up between the tours!


I always knew I was a star And now, the rest of the world seems to agree with me-Freddie Mercury
The Real Wizard user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 27 Jul 12, 11:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'll have to second that. The difference between May 6 and August 18, 1979 is nothing short of staggering.

In between, there's a piece of Queen history that few have taken note of:

John Lennon recording Twist & Shout with a hoarse voice has gone down as a legendary recording session, but the setting for Crazy Little Thing Called Love isn't much different. Mercury was able to achieve the Elvis effect because his voice was hoarse. He was more of a baritone, so he's reaching for notes that would normally be in his comfortable range. No live version could match it.


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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people on streets user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 27 Jul 12, 16:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

http://blog.voicewize.com/2011/06/20/steroid-use-in-the-voice-care-of-singers-when-is-it-appropriate/

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Posted: 27 Jul 12, 18:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie was very good at being self-taught. It's hard to evolve that much without singing lessons from a qualified voice coach, but not impossible.


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.