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

A DAY AT THE RACES

Queen

 

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3.77 | 349 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars A day at the arena

A Day At The Races is in many ways a transitional album. While being a companion album to the previous A Night At The Opera bearing many similarities to that album, A Day At The Races was also where we saw the first signs of the direction the band would take with their next album, News Of The World. This change of direction is hidden somewhat behind the first few seconds of the first track which is a precursor for a song that comes later on the album, White Man. But as soon as the main riff of Tie Your Mother Down kicks in it is apparent that they are moving towards the kind of Arena Rock characterising We Will Rock You and similar later Queen anthems.

Indeed, the two album titles A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races are perhaps very appropriate pointing towards the fact that in their early days they had mainly been playing smaller venues and night clubs, while now they were moving towards playing larger outdoor venues in broad daylight (perhaps culminating with their performance at Wembley Stadium in 1986 available on DVD). Another apparent change from earlier albums is that on A Day At The Races all the songs are separated and do not flow into each other. Songs like Tie Your Mother Down, Somebody To Love and Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy are more hit songs than most earlier songs by the band, perhaps with the exception of songs like Killer Queen from Sheer Heart Attack and I'm Your Best Friend from A Night At The Opera.

The similarities with A Night At The Opera are as apparent as the dissimilarities. Long Away is this albums counterpart to '39 and The Millionaire Waltz is the counterpart to Bohemian Rhapsody. White Man fills the same role as Sweet Lady but also reminds of the Prophet's Song (but without the out-of-this-world a cappella section). Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy is the same type of song as Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon or Seaside Rendezvous. You Take My Breath Away does not really have a counterpart but it is an excellent song that would have fitted well on A Night At The Opera. Drowse is Roger Taylor's moments to shine and this is not his best but certainly not his worst either. It reminds more of Tenement Funster than of I'm In Love With My Car, but is not really similar to any of them.

The album closes with Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) which is partly sung in Japanese! This is one of the best songs on the album, together with You Take My Breath Away and brilliant The Millionaire Waltz.

The conclusion is that this is a pretty typical early Queen album with all the band's trademarks, and it is highly enjoyable! In my view it holds together slightly better than Sheer Heart Attack and much better than the incoherent News Of The World, but it is still mostly far behind the masterpieces of Queen II and A Night At The Opera. Still, it is a great album and the last great Queen album for a long, long time.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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