A new Freddy Mercury release of Time, recorded in 1986, has finally emerged in June 2019. The song’s full title is Time Waits For No One.

New Freddy Mercury release of Time

The track was recorded for the concept album of the hit musical of the same name, and has emerged after two years of work by musician, songwriter and producer Dave Clark, a long-time friend of Freddie’s.

Time Waits For No One shows Freddie Mercury at his most compelling; a completely stripped-down performance, accompanied by just a piano, showcasing one of music’s most beloved and show-stopping voices.

The story behind the song

Time was the brainchild of Dave Clark, former leader of the hugely successful multi-million selling group The Dave Clark Five. 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 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; 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 fuelled by fabulous food, vodka and Cristal Champagne, courtesy of Freddie’s personal chef Joe Fanelli.

When asked by Freddie if he had anything else, Dave replied with an affirmative, offering the musical’s title track, Time. In January 1986, they returned to Abbey Road Studios to record the song. Dave wrote the song with John Christie, unbeknownst to them at the time at how the words “Time waits for no one” would be so relevant today. Starting off as a rhythm track, the session recorded 48 tracks of backing vocals (Freddie plus John Christie and Peter Straker), 2 x 24 track tapes locked together – which had never been done before for that amount of backing vocals at Abbey Road – with the final version of Time comprising of a huge production of 96 tracks.

Freddy Mercury video

The video for the song was filmed in three hours on a Tuesday at the Dominion Theatre and was quickly wrapped to allow the musical to prepare for that evening’s performance – it had opened earlier that month with Freddie attending opening night. Worried about capturing the full performance, it was a four-camera shoot, which was cut together quickly in order to turn it around for that week’s broadcast of the UK’s hit music TV program Top of the Pops. Going straight to video, not the original 35mm film it was shot in, the song was released on 6 May  of that year, and the original footage was consigned to the vaults.

Four decades on … 96 Tracks to 1

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 four-camera shoot and the unprocessed film which was being stored for a time at Rank Laboratories in Pinewood. A four-day lockdown in a special facility to pore through the negatives with his editor led to the discovery and production of this remarkable visual result.

Time Waits For No One is a tribute to the musical force of Freddie Mercury; and after four decades waiting in the wings, is a stunning eulogy to the Queen frontman, produced and directed by one of his closest friends.

What: New Freddy Mercury release of Time

Listen to the track: Here