Freddie Mercury’s Prev. Unreleased ‘Time Waits For No One’: Watch

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A previously unreleased version of “Time,” recorded in 1986 by Freddie Mercury for the concept album of the hit musical of the same name, has finally emerged after two years of work by Dave Clark, the drummer and namesake leader of British Invasion group, the Dave Clark Five, a long-time friend of Mercury’s. Using the song’s full title, “Time Waits For No One,” the beautiful track was released today (June 20) via UMe, along with a new video.

“Time Waits For No One” features Mercury accompanied by just a piano, showcasing one of music’s most beloved and show-stopping voices.

Watch it below.

From the June 20 announcement: “Time” was the brainchild of Clark, one of the U.K.’s most prolific and celebrated musicians, songwriters and producers. 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 office 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”), who agreed to record the song at Abbey Road Studios in October 1985. Clark’s minimal band of four session musicians included Mike Moran, who had never met the classic rock legend.

Clark recalls of the recording session: “We got on great…if I didn’t like something I’d say, and vice versa…we were both aiming for the same thing: to make something special.”

When asked by Mercury if he had anything else, Clark offered the musical’s title track. In January 1986, they returned to Abbey Road Studios to record the song. Starting off as a rhythm track, the session recorded 48 tracks of backing vocals (Mercury 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 – and the final version of “Time” comprising of a huge production of 96 tracks.

The video for the song was filmed in three hours at the Dominion Theatre and was quickly wrapped to allow the musical to prepare for that evening’s performance. Worried about capturing the full performance, it was a 4-camera shoot, which was cut together quickly in order to turn it around for that week’s broadcast of the U.K.’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 May 6 of that year, and the original footage was consigned to the vaults.

Clark had always remembered that performance of Mercury at Abbey Road Studios. 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 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 Moran to record a new piano track, restoring the huge potential of this historical performance at the latter’s studio in Buckinghamshire, Clark 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 Clark didn’t want to just cut old footage together. He had the negatives from the 4-camera shoot and the unprocessed film which was being stored for a time in Pinewood but returned to Dave after his 2014 documentary, Glad All Over: The Dave Clark Five and Beyond.

Watch “Time Waits For No One”

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