The Gospel According To Barry Mitchell.
Quite recently, Barry kindly performed an inpromptu Q&A with some of our Queenzone readers. As Barry was the bassist with Queen before they entered any recording studio, his memories of the band are quite a keen snapshot of the period. (This also demonstrates that all those illegal MP3 downloads claiming to be pre-John Deacon are nonsense - as Queen never recorded in any studio - without John).
Here, I have distilled his answers into some sort of coherent feature, which hopefully sheds some new light on the Eponymous Queen debut album.
Again, my thanks to Barry, who took the time to answer these questions.
Q: Setlist - Live, Ewell Technical College, London, 9 January 1971?
A: If my fading memory serves me right the set consisted of these songs; Keep yourself alive, Doing alright, Liar, Great king rat, Modern times rock and roll, Son and daughter, Hangman, And of course the rock`n roll medley
Queen: Unreleased, Live, Ewell Technical College, London, 9 January 1971
Freddie Bulsara: Vocals
Brian May: Guitar
Roger Meddows Taylor: Drums
Barry Mitchell: Bass
Supporting Kevin Ayers And The Whole World Band, Flying Fortress and Genesis.
Ken Testi recorded the entire set on a Grundig tape recorder, but only the Rock and Roll Medley remains.
A flyer for this concert is briefly viewed in the official “Genesis - Archive” video
Keep Yourself Alive, Doing Alright, Liar, Great King Rat, Modern Times Rock and Roll, Son and Daughter, Hangman
Rock and Roll Medley: Jailhouse Rock, Stupid Cupid, Bebopa Lula, Big Spender, Bama Lama Lama Loo
Q: When you were with the band, was there any talk at that time of going into a studio with you? It would be interesting to know what the extent of the band's ambition was at that time
A: I dont ever remember any talk about recording. We were really focused on getting a full set of material together for live shows. However there was an obvious desire to take the band forward. Particularly on the part of Freddie (no surprise there).
Q: In terms of the material that you guys were playing - in sound checks and rehearsals etc - what were you playing? Was it all original Queen material or were you trying more cover versions? Were you playing Smile material still at that stage?
A: I think it was mostly Smile material, some of it might have been written after Smile. I dont really know to be honest.
Doing All Right
Q: Doing All right must have sounded very different in those early days. Without piano it must have been a guitar-arranged version closer to the Smile version than the final piano version we can hear on Queen. Any memories on the development of that song?
A: It was probably the first song that I worked on with the guys, and we did it much the same way that Smile did it. Any development of it came after my departure.
My Fairy King
Q: did you guys ever work on songs that didn't make it to shows or later- albums? Did you ever contribute any songs but they weren't used? Or maybe someone else brought a tune and it wasn't considered good enough to be played?
A: I don’t remember any songs that we worked on not making it. I do remember a song that was not ready for performance by the time I left, My Fairy King.
Q: My Fairy King, was it already completed? if so, was it a guitar version or a piano version? What do you think about Fred's piano abilities back then?
A: No, Fairy King was just the germ of an idea of Freddie’s. Back then I had no idea that Freddie played any instrument.
Q: Did you write the bass line to "Liar"?
A: Liar sounds much the same as when I played it.
The Night Comes Down/Jesus
Q: Do you remember if songs like The Night Comes Down or Jesus were included in the set at least once?
A: I don’t believe so. I do recall working on Jesus at rehearsals I think.
Modern Times Rock ‘n Roll
Q: Do you remember if Roger sang
"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."