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Queen - A Day At The Races CD (album) cover

A DAY AT THE RACES

Queen

 

Prog Related

3.78 | 365 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Queen Marx time

There were many obvious clues with this release that it was intended to be "A night at the opera, part 2". The further use as a Marx brothers film name for the title, the similarities of the album titles, and the fact that the sleeve appeared at first sight to be a negative image of that of the previous album are just some of the more obvious hints.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual music, that is where the parallels end. Let me say straight away that I do not wish to imply that this is anything other than a competent and enjoyable album. It is not however anything like as innovative and pioneering as its predecessor. Gone (forever?) are the pop prog classics such as "The prophet's song" and "Bohemian rhapsody", to be replaced by a straightforward collection of ten unconnected pop songs. "A day at the races" is much more akin to 10CC than it is to early Queen.

Freddie Mercury of course adds a couple of his classics. "Good old fashioned lover boy" and "The millionaire waltz" with their retro feel and camp lyrics, and "You take my breath away", one of Freddie's most sensitive ballads, single handedly make the album essential. Roger Taylor's excellent solo track "Drowse" is surprisingly downbeat, but in the middle 8 he does a fine impersonation of Roger Daltrey. May's opening "Tie your mother down" builds the tension wonderfully before bursting into one of the band's hardest rock numbers ever. My personal favourite is "Long away", a nicely understated song which features May on lead vocal.

With all four band members contributing one or more songs, the quality and diversity of the product is undeniable. Songs such as Freddie Mercury's "Somebody to love" and Brian May's "Teo Torriatte" are excellently produced and impeccably performed works. The former features some appealing choral type vocals but when pared back to its most basic form, the song is prosaic. Likewise "Teo Torriate" is a sensitive but undistinguished composition, brought to life by the anthemic, sing-a-long nature of the chorus. This was the first album by Queen to contain songs which I had completely forgotten about over a period of time. "You and I" and "White man" have the hallmarks of a Queen song, but they lack substance or character.

In all, a highly enjoyable album, but the first indication that the band were moving away from their innovative and experimental phase and into a more straightforward style. Perhaps the lure of the rewards from great chart success was all too strong.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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