Freddie Mercury and Mike Moran worked on potential Barcelona material ‘Rachmaninov’s Revenge’ which was the working title for what became ‘The Fallen Priest,’ when Tim Rice wrote the lyrics for it. This recording predates “The Duet” from the Garden Lodge Tape, between them you can hear the song taking shape.
This song was written by: Freddie Mercury, Mike Moran and Tim Rice and appears on Freddie Mercury: The Solo Collection
The Barcelona album was recorded over an 18 month period between January 1987 and July 1988, at both Townhouse studios in London and Mountain studios in Switzerland, and was produced by Freddie, Mike Moran and David Richards.
In August 1986, Queen was nearing the end of their highly successful ‘Magic Tour’ and they had three shows in Spain. Anxious that the three dates in Barcelona, Madrid and Marbella would flop, Promoter, Pino Sagliocco, convinced Freddie to do a press interview ahead of the first show – something that the singer rarely did – and the result was three massively successful nights.
It was during that interview for the Spanish Arts TV programme Informe Semanal, Freddie discussed his passion for opera, and in particular his love of Montserrat Caballé’s voice. Oblivious of his interviewee’s penchant for opera, the host was suitably taken aback. The message, however, did not go unheard, and word got back to Montserrat. Queen Manager, Jim Beach and Pino Sagliocco, started working to set up a meeting, and ultimately Freddie’s dream became a reality seven months later (March 1987) he would finally meet up with the legendary Montserrat Caballé.
“I introduced Freddie to Montserrat’s voice in 1981. We went to the Royal Opera House to hear Luciano Pavarotti singing. But as soon as Montserrat started singing, Freddie ignored Pavarotti. Freddie went to a couple more of Montserrat’s concerts in New York, but he never wanted to meet her. I don’t think he wanted his image of this amazing diva destroyed. He imagined Montserrat would be a grand opera character, the same way everyone imagined Freddie was a rock & roll animal.”
Director, David Mallet said: “I think Freddie was frightened of being snubbed, too. He had a fear Montserrat would ignore him and he wouldn’t know how to come back from that.”
In terms of songwriting, 1987/88 was something of a prolific period for Freddie. A number of ideas he began during the Barcelona sessions were never finished, and those which were, underwent significant changes along the road to perfection. Working titles such as Rachmaninov’s Revenge, Vocal Exercises and Freddie’s Overture gave way to The Fallen Priest, Exercises In Free Love and Guide Me Home, and another idea, the exotically titled Africa By Night, evolved into All God’s People, and although far progressed, was shelved only to be re-worked later by Queen for the 1991 Innuendo album. Ultimately, in October 1988, the Barcelona album emerged as an immensely impressive body of work.
Here’s the early version of Rachmaninov’s Revenge
The picture is Freddie Mercury with Mike Moran in Mountain Studios, Montreux, during the recording of ‘The Miracle album,’ 1988.