Flick of the Wrist
|"Flick of the Wrist"|
|Single by Queen|
|from the album Sheer Heart Attack|
|Released||21 October 1974|
|Format||Vinyl record (7")|
|Label||EMI (UK), Elektra (US)|
|Producer(s)||Roy Thomas Baker, Queen|
|Queen singles chronology|
"Flick of the Wrist" is a song by English rock band Queen, released as a Double A-side with "Killer Queen" in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, the United States and most other territories. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack.
Freddie Mercury never explained whether the unpleasant character in the song was based on anyone in particular. It has been speculated that the lyrics describe manager Norman Sheffield, based on the fact that the song "Death on Two Legs", written the next year in 1975, was confirmed to be about Sheffield and what Mercury perceived as his unfair treatment of the group. While "Death on Two Legs" was written after the band's contract with Sheffield and Trident Studios had ended, "Flick of the Wrist" was written and recorded amid this strained relationship. The song includes Freddie Mercury singing octave vocals throughout the verses, and the chorus features a call and response style section between the backing and lead vocal parts. When Brian May returned to work having recovered from his hepatitis, he had not heard the song before he recorded his guitar and backing vocals.
As it appears on the album, "Flick of the Wrist" is the middle song of a three-track series of songs which seamlessly overlap, segueing from one to the next: "Tenement Funster", "Flick of the Wrist" and "Lily of the Valley". Each song was recorded separately and later mixed together to form the unbroken stretch of music. Because of this structure, the record company had to select points to separate each track on CD re-issues of the album. "Flick of the Wrist," in this way, starts with the crescendo ending of "Tenement Funster" and ends abruptly before the last line of the song "...baby, you've been had." This last lyric appears at the beginning of the next CD track, "Lily of the Valley".
The original, non-segued master recordings of "Tenement Funster," "Flick of the Wrist" and "Lily of the Valley" were used for certain single releases, such the Japanese 3-inch CD single re-issue of Queen's first EP ("Tenement Funster"), the Dutch AA-side version of "Flick of the Wrist" (see below) and the 1975 US-only re-issue of "Keep Yourself Alive" ("Lily of the Valley"). Thus, a standalone version of "Flick of the Wrist" is available.
All the single versions and edits are from the original album recording.
The Dutch AA-side version features the complete song without the seguing, overlapping sections from "Tenement Funster" and "Lily of the Valley".
The UK AA-side version features almost the same complete version as the Dutch version, but with a few notes edited at the beginning. This version also features on the 1991 Japanese 3-inch CD single of "Killer Queen"/"Flick of the Wrist."
The US AA-side version (the same as issued in Canada) has a much more pronounced edit at the beginning, with the first 18 seconds of the song absent. It ends with a fade-out over the segue into "Lily of the Valley," where the latter's opening piano is heard.
The UK's 1987 3-inch CD single re-issue starts with the crescendo segue which ends "Tenement Funster." It ends with a fade-out before the song is properly over, missing the last line "Baby, you've been had."
On 16 October 1974, Queen recorded a BBC session at Maida Vale 4 Studios in London, England. One of the songs recorded was "Flick of the Wrist". This performance features parts of the original album backing track with new vocals by Freddie Mercury and a new guitar solo by Brian May, differing entirely from that which appears on the album.
- Freddie Mercury - lead and backing vocals, piano
- Brian May - electric guitar, backing vocals
- Roger Taylor - drums, percussion, backing vocals
- John Deacon - bass guitar