A dramatic, previously unheard version of the Freddie Mercury ballad “Time,” re-titled “Time Waits For No One,” was released on Thursday morning (June 20). The moving track from the late Queen frontman was recorded in 1986 for a concept album inspired by the British musical Time, which featured Sir Laurence Olivier and British pop icon Cliff Richard. The sci-fi, multimedia rock musical opened on the West End at the Dominion Theatre in April 1986 and was conceived by former Dave Clark Five leader and Mercury friend Dave Clark, who spent more than a year working on the new version of the Mercury track, according to a press release.
“‘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,” reads the release. “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.”
The session included piano by Mike Moran, who went on to work with Mercury on the song “Barcelona” years later. “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,” said Clark in the statement. After Mercury asked Clark is he had another song, Clark offered up “Time” in January 1986, which led to a return to Abbey Road Studios, where they recorded a version featuring 48 backing vocal tracks for the stuffed 96-track final version.
Feeling there was something else there, Clark returned to the original recording of just Mercury and Moran in the spring of 2018 and brought the keyboardist in to record a new piano track, stripping out everything but Mercury’s powerful vocals. “We might as well be deaf and dumb and blind/ I know that sounds unkind/ But it seems to me we’ve not listened to or spoken about it at all/ The fact that time was running out for us all/ Time waits for nobody,” Mercury sings on the track.
Watch “Time Waits for Nobody” below.