Features 20151215211636

Queen Remixed – Mike Spencer: Fan Feature by Adam Unger

Queen Remixed – Mike Spencer

by Adam Unger

This article is the second part in Adam Unger’s ‘Queen Remixed’ series. For part one with John Luongo, please click here. 



Article based on Mike Spencer interview by Adam Unger - April 2012



Although they were not an active band for most of the 1990s, Queen continued to have chart success and a growing following. On the heels of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, Queen’s live performance of “Somebody To Love” with George Michael earned them another number 1 hit. 1995 saw Made In Heaven, their last proper studio LP, become their most successful album ever, reaching number one in the UK and going 5x platinum. The album produced five Top 20 hits, including “Heaven For Everyone,” which peaked at number 2. In 1998, “No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)” continued their momentum, reaching number 13 in the UK charts.

By the end of the decade, Queen were preparing their latest Christmas release. Greatest Hits III was a natural continuation of Queen’s hits collections. To fill out the album, some solo hits and a few “Queen +” collaboration singles were included. A new remix for “Under Pressure” was commissioned for inclusion, as well. One of the producers commissioned to rework the track was Mike Spencer.

Mike Spencer is a music producer and remixer from London, England. He is best known from his work with artists such as Rudimental,  Emeli sande  and Jamiroquai. His productions have achieved numerous multi-platinum sales awards, MOBO and Brit award wins, as well as Mercury Prize nominations.

About his “Under Pressure” Mix, Mike recalls, “I was commissioned for the remix because of my relationship with Parlophone Records at the time; I was doing various things for them. I'm guessing that other remixes would have also been commissioned as well, but happily mine was chosen for that release. I found the whole experience truly amazing.” 


Mike explains there were no boundaries or limitations in the direction of the mix. “There were no real guidelines, I was to do what I felt was right for the record. As it happens, since I was fan of the original recording anyway, I wanted to stay fairly faithful to its original sonic and its overall intentions. I simply tried to tune-in to what I believed the record would have sounded like had the band had access to the technology that I had available to me.”

“Getting a hold of the original master tapes for Under Pressure and sifting through the various performances was fantastic, as was identifying various parts that hadn't made the final cut of the original record. Somewhere in my archive I have a copy of the original multitrack which I'd quite like to check out again, but if my memory serves me, I seem to remember that somewhere on an unused track are versions of takes with Freddie and David singing some of their alternate parts.”

What many fans don’t know was that Mike had a very special guest one day in the studio.  “John Deacon made a couple of visits to the studio during the process.  He was great and really loved the treatment. I thought John was great, such a lovely bloke and really engaged with the mix and me.”

A few options presented themselves for the “Under Pressure” remix. Ultimately, an in-house mix by Joshua J. Macrae and Justin Shirley-Smith (with input from Queen) was chosen to be included on the album and be featured as its main single. “Brian did the ‘Rah Mix.’ I'm not certain why the ‘Rah Mix’ was chosen as the lead, but Parlophone were expecting to use my one as the main version; this is why it isn't too 're-mixy' for want of a better term. We all expected a number one but at the last moment there was a switch to the ‘Rah Mix’ - why, we may never know.  Had it been, I do believe we'd have had a number one for the millennium.  Nevertheless, I remain proud of the record and very proud of my connection to the band. I'm really pleased that it is of some relevance and has had a subsequent release.”

Since its initial CD single appearance, the “Under Pressure (Mike Spencer Mix)” was reissued on The Singles Collection 4 Box Set.



Mike Spencer Queen Discography:


Under Pressure (Rah Mix) CD single – Enhanced


Country: UK


Release Date: December 28, 1999


Catalogue Number: CDQUEENS 28


Label: Parlophone


1. Under Pressure (Rah Mix – Radio Edit) 3:53
 / Under Pressure (Mike Spencer Mix) 3:52 / Under Pressure (Knebworth Mix) 4:16
 / Enhanced Section



Singles Collection 4 Box Set


Country: UK


Release Date: October 18, 2010


Catalogue Number: 50999 909215 2 0


Label: Parlophone



Special Thanks To:
- Mike Spencer for his time and energy, Patrick Lemieux and Suzy Unger


Image by Adam Unger
 


For more information on Mike Spencer: www.mikespencer.com
 / www.discogs.com/artist/84775-Mike-Spencer / Twitter: @Mike_Spencer_

Adam Unger is the co-author of The Queen Chronology book, available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com and Lulu.com. He is owner and webmaster of QueenVault.com and has contributed articles to QueenOnline.com, including Queen Remixed – John Luongo,  B-Sides and The Elektra Edits.

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8 Comments

Queen Remixed – Mike Spencer: Fan Feature by Adam Unger

Ged

Yeah Queen in there hey days were four amazing & talented guys.
Each thriving on each others styles of music, to compliment each other on every track they ever recorded.
They are now only a shadow of themselves, and avoiding the recording studios as i believe going there with Adam Lambert would be a step too far and a car crash. Queen ( Brian & Roger) should have made an album with greats such as Cliff or Paul McCartney instead of wasting valuable time with Adam Lambert.
He makes Queen look cheap and trashy. Freddie had the style and flair and Lambert comes no where near Mercury's amazing voice.

DanZee

Interesting discussion, but keep in mind that Queen consciously moved from EMI to Universal because it felt EMI wasn't doing enough with its catalog. The band wanted to make money and use the album re-releases to generate publicity. Finding Adam was a huge gain for the group and a respectable amount of time has passed for fans to enjoy the songs again rather than be sad for Freddie. And by the way, bands make tons more money touring than from record sales, so you could blame Queen rather than Universal.

Amy

Hi everyone! 1st I'm head over heels in love with Queen and Freddie. I agree with nearly everyone's true feelings and thoughts as it pertains to Queens legacy.

Universal may be in it for the money but I really think ?Brian and Roger just love performing. I have to say here in the USA new young fans are becoming more familiar with Queen and just how perfect Freddie was.

Take the guy who won the Voice TV show. He sang Somebody to love and it broke records on I tunes. He went on about how he looked up to Freddie and has always been in awe of his talent. Anyway he's pretty young, too young, one would think to really understand Queen or How Freddie is the greatest voice ever. But, he does know and he sang that song and blew everyone away.

All of these things keep Queens name out where young people get curious. Most kids finally find who is the band that sings We will rock you & we are the champions.

For heavens sake Petsmart is using my best friend on national TV commercials in heavy rotation since 2015. Then there's weight watchers with another one bites the dust, and last year Lays potato chips using Crazy little thing called love, under pressure in a kids game and movie.

I love pro Basketball (theNBA) and you can't watch any game without queens music. They obviously have licensed we will rock you and people love it.
I myself am only 40 and I really young when I first heard Queen , my cousins who are 30 and under all know who Queen is.
I'm telling you all this "rehashed stuff has its place" but I understand what all of you are saying.

What your saying applies to Elvis too. But the truth is we are being protective, while others want more Queen and Elvis.
Bottom line they are just to legendary too become a joke, promise.

I would like to see the freakin Queen or Freddie Mercury biopic! If it isn't done well enough to win best picture and best actor then forget it! I'm still going to hope the movie is made and really ?Rocks the good old USA. We could use something to look forward too.

Sarah Kluge

but why they don´t start their own record label??? Why not? Other band also have their own labels, where they can release what they want!

Brian and Roger definetly don?t need the money so why they don`t do something interesting? some new solo project or something with new, unknown musicians and artists???

Because it`s all about the big, big money making! Universal is in music business what nestlè is in food industry! The big Money Machine...the monopolist...

and there is no place for quality...for unknown musicians...for creative experiments....

There is only place for Best Of Albums of "Mega Stars"...like Michael Jackson...Lady Gaga.... and so on... it`s clear why they work together with Glambert Lambert.... because he IS a product of Universal Music Company!

It´s so clear and it`s so sad. They Days of Queen are long away, only the Ghost off Freddie remains and influences great, but not well known musicians, like Valensia or Mostly Autumn and so on....

But Queen is gone, only the Marketing-Trade-Mark called "Queen" is present and milking the cash cow every day...

the same thing with Michael Jackson...he was with no doubt a great musician... he was faboules... but know he is gone...and what does the big music Company? Realeasing one "postume" album after the other! In Gods Name, is there just a little respect left for Michael and Freddie??? I think no! For the big Record Companys, only the Money rules...

sad...but true

Brian Praline

If everybody on this site believes that Queen and Queen alone are responsible for everything which gets released then that is naive and stupid to say the least.

Since the switch from EMI to Universal there have been far more reissues come out - since then we've had the 2011 reissues, The Studio Collection, all the various LP's reissues individually available, Deep Cuts 1-3, Forever, Live At Wembley Stadium reissue, Freddie Tribute Concert reissue etc etc - far more than in the EMI years. At the same time, old products have been discontinued so things like Live Killers, Queen Rocks, Greatest Video Hits and the like have been consigned to history.

It's clear that Queen are being driven to release new product by Universal, and sadly the quality of those releases are going downhill. And if it was Queen driving these substandard releases/reissues, then it is up to Universal to stop them - as Universal undoubtedly have the last say in what gets released.

Cory MacRae

Sadly I have to agree with the comments below. The "band" is no longer and as a fan for getting on close to 40 years I am finding it more and more tenuous to be rereleasing older stuff time and time again. I went to the Glasgow gig with Lambert and enjoyed it immensely, but felt it was more a tribute act in the way the Queen Extravaganza was.

Queen Forever was an utter joke of an album. Remastered? Remixed? Rehashed is more like it.

I think it is time to move on guys, we love you and always will but the link with Freddie is gone and only the memories remain now. Do something interesting, have fun, make music, just let Queen take its rightful place in the pantheon of the greats before the watering down gets to the point where it becomes a living joke.

Adrian Rich

I couldn't have said it better myself, Sarah. Glad someone pointed it out!

Sarah Kluge

other rock groups quit after their singer died...they know when to stop...queen go on to make money with freddies fragments... very sad...

Queen should have split up in 1995, after their Made in Heaven Album, and not make this laughable money making stuff like "Cosmos Rockin" or "Queen" + Glambert Lambert... This is not Queen...cause the "Queen" = Freddie is now in the other dimension!

So why "Queen +", "Greatest Hits III", "Cosmos Rockin", "Glambert Lambert", "Queen Forever", "Absolute Greatest" and all that shit???

It`s all about Money Making... and has nothing to do anymore with the music, with the spritit of what it came from!

It`s...simply to call it...mainstream....

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