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




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3.78 | 542 ratings

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4 stars It was now 1976 and Queen had the task of following up the massive popularity of "A Night At The Opera" and its major hit single "Bohemian Rhapsody." How exactly do you follow up a masterpiece? Well, with another masterpiece of course!!! In my opinion, "A Day At The Races" perfected the formula that Queen had begun, or should I say created, on their previous album.

The album opens with a short unnamed instrumental that leads into the awesome rock track "Tie Your Mother Down." A staple on rock radio, Brian May shines here, tearing through a killer solo before leading the band back into the final sections of the tune. This is followed by "Take My Breath Away", a mellow piano number, most closely compared to "Love Of My Life" from their previous album. This was a great live song as well, and possibly one of Freddie's greatest vocal moments. Next up is a mid-tempo number sung by Brian, "Long Away." The highlight of this track is a seemingly out of place heavy rock burst in the middle where Freddie takes over on vocals to break up the monotony. This would be a forgettable song if not for that short rock blast!

Now we find ourselves in the middle of "Millionaire Waltz", which is not surprisingly just that...a waltz!!! This is a wonderful song that winds it's way to a close without ever giving any indication that it was meant to be serious!! The fun of Queen was how tongue in cheeck they could be!! Listen for Brian's excellent electric waltz solo, ha!!!! "You & I" continues the album but remains the albums weakest song, only redeeming itself towards the very end where the music finally picks up and we remember this band can rock.

The next track "Somebody To Love" is probably the most recognizable track from this album and certainly one of the best. The only way to compare this is to say it was the follow-up to "Bohemian Rhapsody." It contains all of the same elements including the wonderful acapella intro leading into the slower piano lead verses; all throughout are short burts of vocal harmony that add to the song without being overbearing. Listen to a live version of this track and you'll see how important these backing vocals are. The track then winds it's way through a wonderful middle section where the vocals completely take over, accompanied only by Roger's steady tribal drum track, before finally ending nearly the way it began. An excellent addition to the Queen catalog.

"Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" in my opinion still ranks as an album low point, although it did quite well as a single. This is Queen pop in its purest form. "White Man" is something to talk about though...a highly overlooked track that remains of of the band's heaviest songs ever written. Written about the white man's abuse on the native indians, there are parts where Freddie seems to be angrily spitting the lyrics while Brian keeps an incredibly heavy rhythm behind him. The drums on this song are also fantastic, almost having that heavy, booming John Bonham quality to them. Roger shines with some great drum fills while Brian plays one of his best solos of the 70's.

The album ends with the rather odd Roger Taylor track "Drowse" and the Japanese love note "Teo Torriate." On "Drowse" Roger shows his somewhat unique writing style while his unmistakable raspy voice leads the way. You can always pick out the Roger song on any given Queen'll be the one that shouldn't belong but somehow does. "Teo Torriate" is another beautiful and overlooked song much in the same style as "Somebody To Love" but now with additional Japanese choruses and a kiddy choir!! This was a thank you from Freddie to the Japanese fans, probably some of the most die hard Queen fans in the world. The album ends with the same instrumental guitar crescendo that opened the album.

This is a great disc, and although the argument will always remain whether or not Queen or their material is prog or not, there should be no question about the quality and the beauty of Queen's music!!! Pick this disc up and you'll not be disappointed.

silversaw | 4/5 |


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