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




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3.77 | 516 ratings

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2 stars Even with the frills stripped away, QUEEN did a great job in out-pomping most other bands. Gone are the extended progressive workouts, the crazy camp approach to things, replaced by a serious assault on the world's album charts. While there is still the occasional reminder that this is a special band, this album is so much less than we ought to have been given.

'A Day At The Races' begs to be compared to its predecessor: the choice of album title and cover guarantees that. Publishers do have that sort of clout. However, while 'A Night At The Opera' was by turns progressive, poppy and vaudeville, this album is quite a different beast: rock tinged with the remnants of a progressive outlook. It's an average album, worthy of the occasional spin, but no more - unless, of course, it's part of your nostalgic childhood.

'Tie Your Mother Down' sounds like it's going to be an all-out QUEEN assault, but it turns out to be strangely lukewarm. 'Take My Breath Away' is a beautiful vocal exercise, but hardly bears repeated listens. 'Long Away' is a gentle track, something I could imagine THE SEEKERS putting together in a spare moment. At least with 'Millionaire Waltz' QUEEN extend their vision a little, even if it is overlong. 'Somebody to Love' is nice, but ought we not to be expecting far more from one of the wildest and most creative talents in rock? 'You and I' sums up this album: sweet, inoffensive and completely irrelevant.

And so it goes.

Listening to this is like rummaging through a lucky dip, hoping to find something with an interesting shape or sparkle. It's as though FREDDIE and the boys found the vamp switch and turned it down to 1. A great strategy for widespread popular acceptance, but I can imagine many people who, like me, were left scratching their heads at the subdued fare offered here. The ingredients are still there - intricate vocal harmonies and MAY's special guitar - but though this sounds like QUEEN, there's only so much that can be done to dress up sub-par compositions.

No moments of drama, no pop standards, nothing essential to the QUEEN canon. Go about your business, nothing to see here.

russellk | 2/5 |


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