Dead On Time (3:22)

Cover of Jazz

From Jazz and 4 other releases

“Dead on Time”, written by Brian May, features some of the fastest and most aggressive guitar work by its author, as well as some equally complicated yet ferocious drumming by Roger Taylor. Performed at breakneck speed, it was considered by most fans to be an ideal live number, but was curiously never played in concert; May would only incorporate snippets of it in his guitar solos during the Jazz Tour. The song resembles “Keep Yourself Alive” from Queen’s self-titled debut album. Particularly the guitar play is similar to that of Keep Yourself Alive, although it’s faster in “Dead on Time”. In the last chorus, the words “keep yourself alive” are sung, and in the lyrics attached to the album, those words are written in capitals.

The song ends with the sound of a thunderbolt, followed by Mercury screaming “You’re dead!” The thunderbolt was actually recorded by May on a portable recorder during a vicious thunderstorm. Amusingly, the album’s liner notes credit the thunderbolt to God.
_____________________________

Brian May, 1982 On The Record:

Interviewer: Was it hard to build up the solo speed in “Dead On Time”?

Brian May: “I don’t think so. That was something I was quite pleased with, but really nobody else was. It’s something which nobody ever mentions very much. “Fat Bottomed Girls” I thought was okay, but fairly banal. I thought people would be much more interested in “Dead On Time”, but it didn’t really get that much airplay. The explosions at the end are a real thunderstorm which occurred when we were in the south of France. We put a tape recorder outside. “

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