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Queen - A Night At The Opera CD (album) cover




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4.29 | 950 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars In reading the reviews of Queen's well-regarded Night at the Opera one can see many different opinions on whether this album is "prog," vaudeville, classic rock, or '70's pop-rock. The answer is that the album is a little bit of all of those. It's an enjoyable blend of Queen's bouncy throwbacks, hard hitting arena-rock, artistic extravagance, and flamboyant style. While I think the album is very over rated here on Prog Archives, Night at the Opera has some real gems that rightfully help it stand out among the rest of Queen's offerings, even if the album as a whole isn't really a master piece.

"Death on Two Legs" is a creative and noisy hard rock opener with lots of style that makes it easy to imagine Mercury strutting around in a neckerchief and phallic microphone baton singing his heart out. Same goes for "Sweet Lady," one of the forgotten Queen gems that sounds great but won't make it into the Greatest Hits. "I'm in Love with My Car" has appealing instrumentals but eye-rolling lyrics, making it a mixed bag. These are the only classic-rock songs to be heard, and the band plays them well and energetically.

Scattered throughout this album are four (!) playful and folksy songs that end up being homages to vintage sounds of earlier days (think barbershop). They're well produced, often with layers of vocal overdubs and a variety of guitar sounds; however, with the notable exception of "'39" they're little more than diversions that'll get your toe-tapping for two minutes while you're waiting for something more interesting to come up. Bouncy, fun, and forgettable.

"'39" is deserves talking about though. This is a warm acoustic ballad with an irresistible feel and lead vocals by May, whose voice fits very well here. The story and lyrics are beautiful, as is the lush production of the song. A standout track.

"The Prophet's Song" is the other big song here. It's a heavy, plodding, and dramatic song that, although qualifying as prog in the sense that its: A) long, B) weird, and C) ambitious, isn't all it's cracked up to be. It feels like an experiment that sort of misfires. The 2.5 minutes of experimental vocal overdubs haven't aged well, and May's guitar soloing doesn't impress. It's not bad, just not amazing.

What is amazing, however, is "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's a rare example of artistic excess that has all the right elements to make it a mega-hit and classic-rock staple. This song is over played and well known, and deserves it.

So in the end a very enjoyable experience. Certainly recommended for fans of the band or those thinking about exploring Queen beyond "Greatest Hits". I'm close to giving Night at the Opera 4-stars, but it's inconsistency in instrumental work and song writing makes it fit better as a good but not essential release. However, those who purchased this album just for "Bohemian Rhapsody" should find plenty more to enjoy.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |


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