Hear a Previously Unheard Freddie Mercury Song, “Time Waits for No One,” Unearthed After 33 Years

Fred­die Mer­cury, now gone for more than a quar­ter-cen­tu­ry, seems to have become a star again in the late 2010s. It has hap­pened in not just the Eng­land where he grew up and first hit it big with his band Queen, but in Amer­i­ca (where Queen took longer to catch on) and indeed most of the rest of the world as well: the release of the Mer­cury biopic Bohemi­an Rhap­sody last year renewed inter­est in him even in South Korea, where I live, and where any­one of the age to have lis­tened to Queen’s “Bohemi­an Rhap­sody” at the time of its release would have need­ed to pirate a copy. All this has nat­u­ral­ly prompt­ed a return to the stu­dio vaults in search of more Mer­cury mate­r­i­al, the lat­est find from that expe­di­tion being “Time Waits for No One.”

Astute fans will rec­og­nize the song as a ver­sion of “Time,” the title song Mer­cury record­ed for the 1986 sci-fi musi­cal by Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five. Elab­o­rate­ly pro­duced with 96 tracks in total, the ver­sion that came out at the time did well enough, but “Clark had always remem­bered that per­for­mance of Fred­die Mer­cury at Abbey Road Stu­dios from 1986,” says Mer­cury’s web site.

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.” And so, three decades lat­er, Clark brought Moran back into the stu­dio to re-record his piano part for Mer­cury’s orig­i­nal vocal track.

Like every big song of the 2010s, the stripped-down “Time Waits for No One” (the orig­i­nal title of “Time”) need­ed an impres­sive video to go with it. Mer­cury, who died in the mid­dle of the first music-video era, would sure­ly appre­ci­ate the way that the inter­net has restored a cer­tain vital­i­ty to the form. Clark, who still pos­sessed the neg­a­tives from the orig­i­nal “Time” video shoot, used the mate­r­i­al he did­n’t the first time around to cre­ate a pre­vi­ous­ly unseen Mer­cury per­for­mance to go with this pre­vi­ous­ly unheard — or at least not prop­er­ly heard — Mer­cury song. Like few rock singers before him, Fred­die Mer­cury under­stood the impor­tance of the star­tling, the elab­o­rate, and the oper­at­ic to his craft. But it takes a rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple pro­duc­tion like the new “Time Waits for No One” and its accom­pa­ny­ing video to reveal just why he has endured in a way so many of his con­tem­po­raries haven’t.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sci­en­tif­ic Study Reveals What Made Fred­die Mercury’s Voice One of a Kind; Hear It in All of Its A Cap­pel­la Splen­dor

What Made Fred­die Mer­cury the Great­est Vocal­ist in Rock His­to­ry? The Secrets Revealed in a Short Video Essay

A Stun­ning Live Con­cert Film of Queen Per­form­ing in Mon­tre­al, Dig­i­tal­ly Restored to Per­fec­tion (1981)

Lis­ten to Fred­die Mer­cury and David Bowie on the Iso­lat­ed Vocal Track for the Queen Hit ‘Under Pres­sure,’ 1981

Scenes from Bohemi­an Rhap­sody Com­pared to Real Life: A 21-Minute Com­pi­la­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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