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




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4.30 | 999 ratings

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5 stars Bombastic, expensive, amazing. A Night At The Opera flows like a well-chosen programme of classical music, only characterised by guitar riffs, vaudeville ditties, home-made jazz, thicker than thick vocal harmonies, and billions of overdubs. I love the diversity here, and the complexity of song structure that adorns a lot of the band's earlier records.

Of course, the dense, crazy style of composing rock that sounds like opera reaches a peak with 'Bohemian Rhapsody', which I really need not describe. It's not my favourite on the album though. That would be the hard-edged, piano-led opener 'Death On Two Legs', with it's King Crimsoneque tri-tone cello opening, and totally "fuck you" lyrics, uncharacteristic for the sweet Freddie Mercury. The little song that follows without a gap, 'Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon', is equally fun and enjoyable. The guitar solo is in a totally unrelated key; things like this just get overlooked with Queen when people focus on their showmanship and power chords. They are more musically accomplished than most prog bands.

The not so great tracks are basically 'I'm In Love With My Car', a bit of a throwaway thrasher from drummer Taylor, and 'Sweet Lady' from May, which is a good, Zeppelin-style rock song, but just not in the same compositional league as the rest of the album. A Night At The Opera is otherwise perfect, continuing with the slice of warm, electric piano pop, 'You're My Best Friend', Deacon's well- crafted single, and another 30s dixieland-style piece from Freddie, 'Seaside Rendevous', which is just lovely to listen to with all of those brass instruments (which are actually treated vocals). Mercury also lends his greatest ballad to the album, 'Love Of My Life', which has melodies to die for.

Meanwhile, Brian May spoils us with three of his best pieces, the stomping space-folk ballad '39', with beautiful chords and lyrics, the ukulele-led 'Good Company', with plenty of jazzy guitar effects, and great cadences, and forming the centrepiece of the album, the prog-rock effort 'Prophet's Song', which would be mediocre if not for that middle section, in which three a cappella Freddie's sing their harmonised hearts out. Stunning, and original, like the rest of the album.

'Bohemian Rhapsody' followed by a guitar-led rendition of 'God Save The Queen' is probably one of the greatest ways to end an album, which has already delivered more than necessary to be given 5 stars. Luckily, this evening's opera can be listened to again and again, which is what I have done, and will continue doing. This album is very special, with a warm feeling, faultless production, and enough creativity to challenge The Beatles. Worth all the hours they put in.

thehallway | 5/5 |


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