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




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3.78 | 497 ratings

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4 stars By most people's opinion this is just a pale attempt to copy its successful predecessor. The title and the cover are similar, and some of the song's structures reminds a listener of certain tracks on "A Night A The Opera". But this album is much, much more than a copy. Perhaps it's lacking that sense of floating and conceptualism, and few tracks here are just the fillers, unlike it's predecessor, where all the songs are way above the average. On the other hand, this non-conteptual work is nicely rounded with the opening and closing theme, providing at least an illusion of floating and continuity.

The weakest two tracks, fillers really, are "Long Away" and "You And I", but even here the QUEEN's trademarks are presented well, excelent guitar work, beautiful layered vocals, and their skill to write lovely ballads. There are one or two unpredictable, heavier moments in the middle of the ballads, ranking them higher than average.

"Tie Your Mother Down" is your typical hard-rock/boogie-woogie number with nasty lyrics and sliding guitar solo too similar to LED ZEPPELIN's "Heartbreakers". However, it's the best possible candidate for an opener, and indeed the song was heavily utilised as an opener on their live gigs untill 1986., when it was replaced by fresher "One Vision".

Another ballad, "Teo Toriatte" contains mixture of English and Japanese lyrics and children's choir. A typical light-the-candle-for-the-peace-in-the world-ballad but not cheesy as this type of song could usually be.

The rest of the album? All the gems. "You Take My Breath Away" is most beautiful song Queen ever did. Calm, spiritual, gentle, a real craftmanship. One of Brian May's finest moments is here: multilayered guitars that sound like a beast's roar, but these growls are actually so quiet, like the most gentle string orchestral passage. Beyond description. "The Millionare Waltz" is lovely snobbish multipart composition with some fine piano and guitar licks are mimicking typical Strauss' moments. Nice details. Their hit "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" is most progressive-related pop-beat ever written. I have to admit that I didn't like this tune a lot, but after years of possessing this album, I finally discovered the charm that was hidden from my eyes (ears) all these years. Now it's one of my favourites. It's so silly, but it's gorgeous. When I hear it, I can't help myself; must nod my head. Oh, and not to forget the most expressive guitar solo that May ever did. Compared to this, Jimi's wah-wah weepings sound like a monotonous sine wave when heart stops beating. "Somebody To Love" is a well-known Queen's soul classic, and it's not worth describing it. All four aforementioned gems are of interest for a progressive rock fan, but however there are two more tracks worth exploring: "White Man" and "Drowse", both with excellent lyrics, but untypical Queen's efforts. The first one is very heavy, guitar-driven, raw-power song with lyrics slapped into your face, it sounds almost like a grunge prototype, while the second one is repetitive (but not boring) slide-guitar work, with Taylor's vocals about getting older. Very underrated track.

When we do the summary, we have four excellent prog rock songs, two excellent ones thay wouldn't fit under the prog rock umbrella, and the rest consists of above-average rock & ballad-rock fillers. It is important to mention that this excellent prog songs are holding the balance for the whole album, and I can't force myself to rate this album with less than four stars.

clarke2001 | 4/5 |


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