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Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Like it or not, Queen is here to stay, we must leave behind the questions whether they are Prog' or not because nobody is sure, I'm one of the persons who believe they were not a formal Progressive Rock band because of their high POP and Glam influences but there's no doubt that they had some Prog' material in their first albums but overall excellent music that combines different genres influences and even eras, and that's what really matters.

I'm sure most people will run and review A Night at the Opera because of Bohemian Rhapsody, which IMO is one of their highest achievements if not the higher, but as a solid and versatile album, I stay without doubts with "A Night at the Opera" almost a masterpiece that goes from Gospel and Blues influenced Prog to Vienna Waltz and Japanese melodies, simply outstanding with no fillers at all (Well, maybe Drowse).

There's another subjective factor that increases my preference for this albums above some others probably in the same or a higher level and it's because Somebody To Love was my first approach to Queen's music.

In the late 70's Radios and TV stations were property of Disco Music bands, so some Movie Theaters programmed concerts by Frágil (Peruvian Prog' band) and after the concert they gave us one extra hour of classic rock band videos that never reached our TV. One of my favorite videos was precisely the one in which a strange looking fellow in Ballet outfit with an incredibly beautiful voice sung this mysterious and bluesy song.

So very soon I bough my first copy of A Day at the Races, even when my proghead friends warned me about the dangers of Glam Rock and never was disappointed, loved this album from the first listen.

The album starts with a strange guitar intro by Brian May that seems to announce something really adventurous but "Tie Your Mother Down" suddenly turns in a good hard rock oriented song that doesn't offer anything really new except for the excellent bass and drums work by John Deacon and Roger Taylor.

The second song is "You Take My Breath Away", a classical ballad by Queen but the merit of the song is that they create a nostalgic atmosphere without falling in cheesiness (something that happens very often with less talented bands), Freddie Mercury is not only outstanding in the vocals (as always) but also very correct with the piano, a good chance to show his incredible vocal range, good chorus at the middle of the song, very beautiful track.

"Long Away" is one of the rare chances in which Brian May takes the lead vocals and I believe that if it wasn't for Freddie, Brian would have made good frontman and vocalist, the choirs by Freddie and Roger are spectacular, simple song but pretty effective.

"The Millionaire Waltz" is a apparently simple song played in Austrian Waltz tempo, with an amazing rock explosion in the middle of the track soon interrupted by the piano playing a repetitive chord but enhanced with Brian's guitar unique sound, but it's really a pretty complex track and very well elaborated. Never knew if this song was product of Freddie's sense of humor, but despite his intentions (which I don't know) the song is very good.

Only Queen can manage a simple and poppy tune like "You and I" and create such a solid track, all the band is impeccable and the mixture between piano, choirs and hard edge guitar is extremely beautiful, always loved this song especially for the incredible arrangements which combined with a simple and poppy track create a wonderful song.

Now it's the turn for my all time favorite Genesis track "Somebody To Love", a love song with clear blues influence but managed so well by the band that sounds almost as a new genre very close to progressive without falling into the excesses of Fusion, but that's not all, the choirs by the members resemble a complete Gospel choir with only the voices of the band members overdubbed several times. The vocals are the highlight of the song, even when the music is extremely beautiful the vocal work alone makes it worth, extraordinaire!!! Queen at their peak.

"White Man" is one of the weakest tracks of the album, too musically predictable for the capacity of the musician and composer involved (Even though the lyrics are more complex and politically influenced), not bad but a bit boring.

"Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" is another track in which the band shows their humorous side, creating a Vaudeville atmosphere, nothing pretentious but again they hit the head of the nail even when joking.

"Drowse" is a Roger Taylor track and that's the only important thing I can say about it, because sounds as a product of another Queen era, should never be included in this album.

The album is closed by the haunting and incredibly beautiful "Teo Torriate (Let's Us Cling Together)" where they mix the classical sound with an almost imperceptible oriental atmosphere only evident when Freddie sings part of the lyrics in Japanese. Very good closer for an excellent album.

There's an edition with two bonus tracks (1991 re-mix of Tie Your Mother Down and Somebody to Love), but in the case of the classics I only worry for he original versions.

Being that Drowse and White man are weaker than the rest of the tracks, I can't give 5 stars to A Day at the Races, but at least deserves 4 solid stars that should be 4 ˝ if this was possible in Prog Archives.

Report this review (#40875)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#41070)
Posted Sunday, July 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Often linked to its predecessor both about the title and the cover, this album is clearly a downstep from ANATO. It is very over-rated in the Queen dicography , but since so closely tied to its predecessor , I think most Queen fans forget to judge this album on its own merits.

No obvious prog epioc , plenty of pleasant pop tunes , some are rather outstanding in vocals harmonies (Somebody To love ) but is this really fitting in the Archives? Who cares , right! still a great album aimed at selling millions to male teenagers (Tie Your Mother Down), surfin and gliding on the Bohemian Rap wave , but there are many fillers here.

Still worth a spin , but hardly essential. For fans only! But I did give it that third star.

Report this review (#43820)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The truth is that A Day at the Races looks like A Night at the Opera but it doesn't matter.Classical Queen album and surely masterpiece!as every Queen it contains many different songs!For example compare White Man With The Millionaire Waltz,they are very different songs but both of them are incredible!!!!You take my breath away......................oh my god What a ballad!somebody to love rocks and the you and i are the Highlights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Enjoy it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Report this review (#65639)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars ...just one star for "somebody to love" and one for "tie your mother down"..This is not what I mean for a prog album, and also for a rock album...there lots of songs that seems to be put in the cd casually, they don't come from author's passion...they seems to be here just to full the album...Only the guitar of May and the voice of Mercury (one of the greatest singer ever) express some feelings sometimes...
Report this review (#65640)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars No Bohemian here.....

But still indelibly Queen, terrific vocal harmony, and Queen sound. This album is so underrated because the album doesnt have a standout classic, all songs are evenly fine....

Poppy progressive rock but so what :D

Report this review (#67358)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars I first heard Queen while listening to Radio Caroline in the early Seventies, it was Seven Seas Of Rhye, I was delighted about Freddy Mercury his great voice and sparkling piano and the exciting electric guitar work by Brian May. Soon I became a huge fan of their harder-edged art-rock sound, for me their first album is one of the greatest rock albums of all time, it can compete with Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath! The album A Day Of The Races had to solve the same problem as Mike Oldfield with Tubular Bells or Pink Floyd with Dark Side Of The Moon, how to make successor after a worldwide successfull and acclaimed album? Well, in my opinion they did very well, this is a very varied and tasteful record: a great and catchy guitar riff in the propulsive rocker Tie Your Mother Down, romantic piano in the mellow You Take My Breath Away, exciting shifting moods in The Millionaire Waltz (with that very distinctive guitar play by Brian May) and pleasant piano, vocal harmonies and bass in the swinging You And I, of course Brian May gives it an extra dimension with some fiery guitar runs, what a killer guitar player, so much R&R! My highlight is Somebody To Love, (of course) it has not the level of Bohemian Rhapsody but it's a great, very typical Seventies Queen song: the vocal harmonies, the piano sound, the tension between the tender and bombastic parts and the eagerly awaited, always top notch guitar solo by Brian May. A year later I witnessed Quee live during their News Of The World tour but that was also the last album I bought from Queen because they gradually lost their harder-edged side, for me it became too much pop-oriented.
Report this review (#85792)
Posted Friday, August 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars what's more remarkable about Queen is that in all their studio albums, each and every song could stand on its own...they are all so much different from one another that you never get bored listening to them... that's what's happening here too.. you have 'Tie Your Mother Down', grabbing you from the neck from the beginning of the album, 'You Take My Breath Away', abeautiful sensitive ballad, like the ones that only Freddie could compose, 'Millionaire Waltz', a prog classic, 'Somebody To Love' that sends me high and high, 'White Man', that set the ground for epic/power metal, 'Toe Torriate', this choral gem and basicaly all songs are indicative of Queen's best era...
Report this review (#86549)
Posted Friday, August 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the previous succes of A Night At The Opera Queen was left with the impossible task to surpass their masterpiece. No worries, they had the skills and the idea's, but in comparison A Day At The Races will always remain in the shadow of it's immortal predesessor, still a very good album.

Starting with a deep gong and guitar symphonificated intro the album goes off in full flight with the great Tie Your Mother Down, a guitar based rock piece. After the grand opening we find ouselves in the beautifull You Take My Breath Away a slow classical sounding love song, which for the real music lovers really takes your breath away. awsome, listen and judge yourself. Brian May expands on his ideas for "39 from their previous album and adds a nice folk like rock song which leans heavy on the relaxed guiter parts, and makes for an enjoyable listening.

Of course the little joke can't be left out, freddie found himself being a millionaire overnight because of the smash hit Bohemian Rhapsody was, so naturaly there is a song to celebrate it. A fabulous rock/walz in the typical Mercury vein was written, dominated by drums and a great guitar part, but mainly driven by Mercury's voice. A great rock song, which stands it's ground between classics like Bohemian and Somebody To Love, though both are better songs on the whole.

You and I is the Deacon song from this album, as ussual very nice. The next song in line is the well known Somebody To Love, one of the 8 great Queen songs (the other 7 you may fill in yourself, plenty to choose from) a love song, gospel hard rock.

White Man shows where the intro and outro of the album really comes from, a for Queen's standard involved political song, some North America Indian drum rhythms really great and fairly heavy, with great guitar and pounding bass and drum. Followed by the last in line of Mercury's vaudeville type of piano inflicted pop songs Good Old Fahioned Loverboy. Drowse is a must have heard song, written by Roger so it's more raw in nature than the other more polished pieces, great guitar works and very well sung by Roger.

The album finishes with the Japanese Thank you song, Queen was well respected in Japan and so they made a song with some Japanese lyrics in it, the translation is also present in English in the song. basically it is a slow ballad, ending as the album began, with some fabulous guitar extravaganze (not heavy, just sweet) but great moments are present in this song. A bit comparable with Who Wants To Live Forever, so it seems all soft and dellicate, but some undercurrent heavyness is part of the song.

After the not-enough-praised previous album Queen managed to get their next album in to the same quality standard. Not as brilliant as it's predecessor but still a worthy addition to any record collection.

Very Much Recommended.

Report this review (#92027)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#97754)
Posted Thursday, November 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A Day At The Races was not as strong an album as the classic predecessor A Night at The Opera but nevertheless it sold millions of albums all over the world and continued to catapult Queen to even greater heights. ' Somebody To Love' to this day is one of Queen's most notable singles, even George Michael singing it so many years later at live gigs.Other highlight tracks would be the opener ' Tie Your Mother Down' and the closing 'Teo Torriatte'. A good album that was never going to eclipse A night Of The Opera but still good enough to maintain Queen's increasing momentum and popularity.
Report this review (#103358)
Posted Saturday, December 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "A Day At The Races" is another excellent album from Queen as a follow-up of the ground-breaking "A Night at The Opera". With the world success of "Bohemian Rhapsody" as major hit, Queen strived to maintain their position in rock music industry scheme. The result was really good. All songs contained in this album are excellent right from the opening to the end. With a hard driving rocker "Tie Your Mother Down" (4:46) as opening track, Queen maneuvered the music into a drastic break with a truly mellow track "You Take My Breath Away" (4:40). The band also adventured into the dance kind of music through "Millionaire Waltz" (4:52). The great choirs can be enjoyed through "Somebody to Love" (4:57) which reached excellent reputation as hit. For my personal taste, I like "White Man" (4:56) because it has excellent drumming. "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" (2:54) is a good example of how Queen combines pop music style with rock in good melody line which makes the band's unique characteristic. No other band which has this kind of music. The album concludes with excellent ballad: "Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)" (5:51).

As far as rock music concerns, this is an excellent album that must be in your collection - without any doubt at all.

Report this review (#120998)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Queen Marx time

There were many obvious clues with this release that it was intended to be "A night at the opera, part 2". The further use as a Marx brothers film name for the title, the similarities of the album titles, and the fact that the sleeve appeared at first sight to be a negative image of that of the previous album are just some of the more obvious hints.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual music, that is where the parallels end. Let me say straight away that I do not wish to imply that this is anything other than a competent and enjoyable album. It is not however anything like as innovative and pioneering as its predecessor. Gone (forever?) are the pop prog classics such as "The prophet's song" and "Bohemian rhapsody", to be replaced by a straightforward collection of ten unconnected pop songs. "A day at the races" is much more akin to 10CC than it is to early Queen.

Freddie Mercury of course adds a couple of his classics. "Good old fashioned lover boy" and "The millionaire waltz" with their retro feel and camp lyrics, and "You take my breath away", one of Freddie's most sensitive ballads, single handedly make the album essential. Roger Taylor's excellent solo track "Drowse" is surprisingly downbeat, but in the middle 8 he does a fine impersonation of Roger Daltrey. May's opening "Tie your mother down" builds the tension wonderfully before bursting into one of the band's hardest rock numbers ever. My personal favourite is "Long away", a nicely understated song which features May on lead vocal.

With all four band members contributing one or more songs, the quality and diversity of the product is undeniable. Songs such as Freddie Mercury's "Somebody to love" and Brian May's "Teo Torriatte" are excellently produced and impeccably performed works. The former features some appealing choral type vocals but when pared back to its most basic form, the song is prosaic. Likewise "Teo Torriate" is a sensitive but undistinguished composition, brought to life by the anthemic, sing-a-long nature of the chorus. This was the first album by Queen to contain songs which I had completely forgotten about over a period of time. "You and I" and "White man" have the hallmarks of a Queen song, but they lack substance or character.

In all, a highly enjoyable album, but the first indication that the band were moving away from their innovative and experimental phase and into a more straightforward style. Perhaps the lure of the rewards from great chart success was all too strong.

Report this review (#126081)
Posted Saturday, June 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Queen - one of the most well know bands in history of music

This album is so underrated because the album doesn't have a standout classic, all songs are evenly fine...., to me is one of their best. Here they continue the tradition they left on previous one in the same manner. A classical Queen album.

After the previous succes of A Night At The Opera Queen was left with the impossible task to surpass their masterpiece. No worries, they had the skills and the idea's, but in comparison A Day At The Races will always remain in the shadow of it's immortal predesessor, still a very good album. So a 4 star album to me, very enjoyble, just listen to You and I, super.

Report this review (#136684)
Posted Friday, September 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another Marx Brothers title (I am found of these guys, the Brothers, I mean).

Queen has now reached stardom. So, how the hell can they cope with this? By releasing a better album than A Night? Or using the same recipe and presume that it will be received as well as its glorious predecessor.

The latter option is of course more comfortable. No risk.

Same great and wild opening song as Death On Two Legs with Tie Your Mother Down. A beautiful and melodic sweet song like Love Of My Live with You Take My Breath Away. So far, so good. But a bit of repeated work, right?

A Night At The Opera is not my fave album of the band. Too many average to even poor songs were stretched along the album and prevent it to be a masterpiece IMHHO. The history is repeating here as well with Long Away. Even if it is a May song, it is the weakest one of this album (on par with the closing Teo Torriatte.

On the contrary, The Millionaire Waltz (Mercury, of course) is brilliant. Varied, fresh, unpredictable, gorgeous, melodic, rocking, theatrical. Ever heard of this before? Yes, it has more Bohemian flavour as some other song featured on this album. My fave here. By several miles...

And amazingly, You And I is another powerful pop track. A usual combination of great piano and sumptuous vocals; but who would doubt about this genuine Queen quality? My fave Deacon composition ever.

Somebody To Love is of course another highlight of this album. Reminiscent of the fabulous Bohemian Rhapsody. Fabulous vocals and great choir work (based on the 10CC technique used in the extraordinary I'm Not In Love). The problem being that this song tries to compete with these two gigantic pieces of music and is just shy of them of course.

The band is distilling some good hard-rock song with White Man. May is again rather convincing as a guitar player but even more as a song writer. It will appeal to any hard-rocking oldies as I am.

The difference between A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races is the following IMHHO : the former holds two magical numbers (The Prophets Song and Rhapsody) but several useless short tunes. This one doesn't hold any of these two, but on the other hand it is more consistent. No such masquerade as Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon or Seaside Rendez-Vous. Even if Drowse is the poorest Taylor song so far.

This is anothe strong Queen effort. Four stars, but don't expect any prog in here. Maybe for their next album?

Report this review (#158980)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#165309)
Posted Saturday, March 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#176998)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What are you planning to do to my mother??

Queen's fifth album is a step away from what they'd been doing up to this point. Although it proves to be a good sister album to A Night At The Opera, this is the album where Queen started going more for the concise rock songs than the experimental approach that they'd taken leading up to this point. While this is where Queen starts to get really well known in the rock world (well, moreso on the last album, this one just builds off it) this is also where they more or less turned away from the progressive tenancies that they had going. A very good album, this has a lot of Queen's better known songs - just don't expect anything progressive like March Of The Black Queen or The Prophet's Song.

The album is still very good with the short songs. It seems that the band really got a hold of melodies and put them to use in well thought out pop-rock songs, many of which can be found on may radio stations and compilations even today. Fan favorites that are played live these days even without Freddy at the helm include the rocking, rebellious opener Tie Your Mother Down and the always popular (in the rock world) Somebody To Love. As stated before, this is where Queen really started to go song for song, as there's no short interludes or tracks that link together to form a kind of suite. Each song stands on it's own as a good piece. Drowse is the song on the album which gets voice by Roger Taylor, and what a job he does! This one isn't heavy like some of the other songs he voiced for the band like I'm In Love With My Car or Tenement Funster, but it makes for a zoned out relax-fest with Taylor's smooth vocals harmonies.

The slower songs on the album do tend to drag a bit though. The second (and longest) song on the album, You Take My Breath Away is a delicate ballad which is at times far to silent. Coming right after the powerful opener as well this song seems to be wildly out of place. The closing Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) is a better stab at a slow piece, but it doesn't measure up to some of the more impressive pieces on the album.

Still, there's some utterly fantastic moments on the album that really make it worth it. The previously mentioned Drowse is an easy standout, as is the soft-yet-still-pressing Long Away and the powerful White Man with it's malicious instrumental sections and it's accusing lyrics.

Like many of the Queen remasters, this album comes with some remixes. Tie Your Mother Down and Somebody To Love each get some treatment, but to be totally honest there's no use in listening to them unless you're such a big fan that you really feel the need to.

All in all a very good rock album but for prog heads only to be gotten if you're into the band. There's nothing here like there is on the last albums that will blow your head clean off your shoulders, but if you enjoy good rock and roll then this one will satisfy. 3 stars out of 5 for a prog collection, which is semi-unfair because it really isn't a prog album. Recommended for those who want to rock and roll.

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Posted Thursday, September 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars For me, this album means shift from classic rock sound to more art rocking music. When compared with "Night", I'd rather choose this one. OK, it lacks Bohemian Rhapsody, which stands for them all, but even this one has a lot of strong ones. Like a "The Millionaire Waltz". Let's face it, I love waltz rhytm. Combine it with Queen sound and instant catcher for Marty is born. /////To feel like a millionaire, once we were young...///// then we have, not fillers, but not so promiment tracks.

Don't take me bad, they are enjoyable and very good to listen, but nothing can beat my waltz. Did I said nothing ? Well, one can. "Good Old-fashioned Lover Boy". This tiny track has even guitar solo inside, which is quite a strange. Then "Somebody To Love" is another more significant.

And all of them, some are just a little bit better.

Report this review (#225423)
Posted Thursday, July 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars "A Day at the Races" is Queen's answer to "A Night at The Opera" that transcended Queen history with its masterful 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

So this album is the act that follows, a difficult task, given the status of the previous album. It begins with a backwards musical section and then the killer 'Tie Your Mother Down' crunches out, a song that became a live staple for the band and an excellent opening track showcasing Mercury's inimitable vocal style.

'You Take My Breath Away' is a soft ballad like a dull lullaby and I never did like these Queen ballads.

'Millionaire Waltz' is a strange fractured tracks with trademark Queen harmonies. There is even an odd waltz like lead break and it moves from minimalist piano to duel guitars, sounding like a bourgeoisie dance hall song at times. Innovative and complex structure and takes off towards the end.

'You and I' is a piano led track with medium paced drums and bass and multilayered harmonies.

'Somebody to Love' is a famous Queen anthem with very layered bombastic harmonies and it builds to a majestic conclusion, once again a fan favourite and often sung on a live set.

'White Man' is one of the highlights with excellent structure and strong guitar melodies and riffs.

'Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy' is terrible Mercury and piano lyrical nonsense that is corny to the max but thankfully only short.

'Drowse' has some cool guitar slides and is very different where May takes the vocals I believe.

'Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)' is one of the better ballads with piano, and features some foreign language creating an intriguing song, though it is as self important, pomp and bombastic as other ballads. It feels all a bit dated and kitsch like 'We are the World', uplifting but corny in the style. At the end a backmasked musical section bookends the album.

So it does not live up to its predecessor's reputation, but it is not too bad with some of the best Queen tracks in their history.

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Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars While this is not the worst of the Queen albums, this may have been the most disappointing. Their first four albums are all works of wonder, with intricate hard rock, some softer ballads, but always at least a hint of darkness. Maybe it was having a huge hit in the MOR single You're My Best Friend from the previous album "A Night At The Opera" that convinced either the band or the record company executives to soften Queen's sound, but whoever is to blame, it took hold here. And here is where Queen started down the path that would have their songs featured not on hard rock radio stations, but on the ones that featured Teri Garr in their TV ads.

Don't get me wrong, the guys could still play. Songs like Tie Your Mother Down and White Man (which almost sounds like a Kansas rocker) are strong hard rock tunes, but both lack the inventiveness and feel of the great early Queen rock songs.

And there is the heavily overdubbed vocals that Queen had been known for. But this time, instead of usig them to simulate an operatic chorus, as they did in Bohemian Rhapsody, they chose the simple path of simulating a gospel choir in Somebody To Love. And the majority of the rest of the songs seem to want to simulate early 20th century foppish pop. The band does this well, but to me it is much more regressive than progressive.

At least they haven't started singing stupid songs about women with fat butts. Yet.

2.5 stars. I guess since they made much worse albums than this, I'll have to round it up.

Report this review (#347165)
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Queen - A Day at the Races (1976)

Queen is one of the few bands that almost all people seem to like. Some like them for their up- tempo classics, some for the amazing vocals of Mercury, and others for their intelligent song- writing. And though Queen has many high-quality songs, they have few albums that can be called flaw-less. A Day at the Races is one of those albums, it has only two real slip-ups.

Tie Your Mother Down is a classic glamorous rocker, You Take my Breath Away is an intense ballad, Somebody to love a classic hit with an original approach, White Man a strong rockin' political effort, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy; yet another very intelligent classic and the strong ending 'Les us Cling Together. An impressive list of good songs, but I've skipped Long Away, Millionaire Waltz, You and I and Drowse. These songs are of less interest to those who are interested in the sophisticated song-writing and great arrangements of Queen.

Conclusion. Perhaps I'm having a bit of trouble with giving a decent rating here. Queen definitely is prog-related, but their glamorous approach is sometimes a bit to cheesy for me. Somehow I don't feel like this is very important music for collectors of music per se. Three stars, but a very strong classic rock album with a lot of their 'hits'.

Report this review (#419035)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is very under-rated I think, well at least HERE, because people consider it one of Queen's best albums, second only to ANATO, apparently. But I also think Queen II is better (their best album).

The main complain about this album is that it's a "copy" of it's predecessor. Well, I don't find this a bad thing, not only because ANATO is IMO one of the best albums ever, but also because Queen was always experimenting with their music, in a good way (their 70's stuff) or in a bad one (Hot Space), so I don't consider it a crime if for one album, they didn't do so.

The album has some outstanding songs, the best one I think is "The Millonaire Waltz", an epic following the line of "My Fairy King", "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "The March Of The Black Queen" , from their previous records. "You Take My Breath Away" is another great song, a dark ballad with an awesome intro and one of Mercury's best vocal performances.

"Good-Old Fashioned Lover Boy" and "Somebody To Love" are one of Queen's most famous songs from the 70's and are the other songs written by Freddie Mercury in the album. They're both awesome, Mercury was on fire in this album as regards songwritting as he wrote 4 of his best songs.

The other member of the band that wrote 4 songs was Brian May, "White Man", although sometimes consider the weakest point in the album, is a great hard-rock song. "Teo Torriate", which has some Japanese lines in the chorus is one of May's best songs. "Long Away" follows the line of "39', a nice ballad, although nothing spectacular and the last one, "Tie Your Mother Down", which it's not a bad song, but I think it's too generic.

John Deacon and Roger Taylor wrote the two remaining songs, "You And I" and "Drowse" respectively. The first one is a great ballad, and Deacon's best song after "Spread Your Wings" IMO, "Drowse", on the other hand is probably the weakest point in the album, although it's not what you could call a "bad" song.

I highly recommend this album.

Report this review (#419369)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A Day at the Races ? 1976 (3.6/5) 12 ? Best Song: Somebody to Love

Night at the Opera had a sequel, didn't you know? It was released the very next year, with a strikingly similar album cover, and the titles say it all, don't they? They were interconnected records intended to be taken together as a sort of two-pack. I can see that, what's more classic era Queen when it gives you a good time? Well, it is a good time, but is it an amazing time? Who knows. This swirling torrent of circumstantial existence in which we organically reside is an objective world, and our silly, inane opinions are anything but objective. They're, well, opinions, for lack of a more scientific term for it. I could be like Prindle and just replace any words I don't like with references to genitals. That works, though, because he's a funny son of a bitch most of the time.

But I digress, isn't 'Tie Your Mother Down' just a snappy hard rocker that hearkens back to their first couple Cds? It does, doesn't it? It's the same general stance on music as the previous release. It's a series of hard, metallic rock songs with heavily processed and overdubbed vocals paired next to Brian May's dirtily thick guitar tone that comes in at the right times, but I often ge the feeling he was a underappreciated member of the group. The songs are much longer in general, where as Night was a series of very short pop songs with Prophet song and Bohemian Rhapsody jutting out for miles, Day is a series of more fluidly rolling songs, losing much of the playful atmosphere and in its place is a serious attempt at solid melody writing. 'Somebody to Love' is the big hit, and I love the song, but personally I have difficulty enjoying 1960's pop tributes like 'Long Away'. The piano also plays a much larger role than before, almost coming off like an Elton John cd, which, based on his quality output around this time, isn't really an insult. I just have a few issues with the song's melodic sense. They attempt being more serious, but 'You and I', along with a few others, comes off sounding particularly aimless. Still, it's another fine album that surprised me. I half expected coming into this and hating the band even more than I did before. Perhaps I've grown soft.

Report this review (#445876)
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars A Day At the Races is a clear step down from A Night At the Opera - and I've gone on record here as saying that A Night At the Opera is a rather overrated collection of a few great tunes padded out with excess filler. Here the quality is a bit more consistent at least, in that none of the songs are quite as useless as the most forgettable tracks on Opera, but at the same time the album simply has no songs to put on a par with Death On Two Legs, Bohemian Rhapsody - or, hell, even You're My Best Friend or I'm In Love With My Car. The closest the album comes to an iconic moment is Somebody to Love - an awful, overhyped, overplayed and overpompous anthem - and the best track is probably Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, which is around on a par with one of the more bearable vaudeville moments on Opera. Truly disappointing.
Report this review (#552357)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9.5/10

While many may see A Day at the Races as a mere copy or an unworthy successor to the superb A Night at the Opera, I am of those who see the album as a masterpiece in its own right. Yes, there are obvious similarities with its predecessor (starting with titles - both were taken from the Marx Brothers films), plus some common elements, but overall this is an album with its own personality.

While his successors News of the World and Jazz represent the transition from the sound of the Queen from the 70s to the 80s A Day at the Races already has some features in the future. Away go the short interludes - the focus is on songs of average length. As a result this album is less progressive than their previous. but make no mistake: the music is still amazing!

A Day at the Races presents a kind of cycle, starting with sounds taken from two other songs from him. When you think Tie Your Mother Down remains that introducing Japanese / psychedelic music actually begins, a guitar riff a la Led Zeppelin to play this amazing song, structurally simple but opens the album with power.

But all the rage and heavy weather of the first song to get back with what I think is one of the most beautiful songs ever written that the Queen: You Take My Breath Away. Remember when we first albums and Mercury May those interludes composed short (just over one minute) in the form of ballad? Yeah, this song here can be described as one of those extended songs, but still retaining the beauty, gentleness and genius of yore. Long Away is also a sort of ballad, but more energetic and sung by May. The Millionaire Waltz is one of those songs that the band say: please do not take me seriously! , A kind of Bohemian Rhapsody to laugh, but it's a great song, enjoy it! You and I are probably the weakest song of the whole disk, but it's still nice to hear.

Somebody to Love is possibly the best-known work on the disc, and can not help but be charmed by this powerful vocals of only four men! Drinking from the influences of gospel music they create a masterpiece beautifully ornate and elegant! (funny how these adjectives are so commonly used when it comes to the Queen). White Man is another highlight: the letters speak of the oppression suffered by American Indian and melodically it is one of the heaviest the band, thanks to strong effects on the guitars. Good Old-Fashioned Boy is a pretty nice track that is the shortest here reminds me of a Sunday Afternoon Lazing in and You're My Best Friend's previous album, and Drowse is a very underrated gem sung by Taylor (not so aggressive as his other songs), excellently guided by the slide guitar of May (I love it). The album closes with the beautiful Torriate Teo (Le Us Cling Together), a tribute band to their Japanese fans. I do not know if this is ironic or not, but just the only thing I do not like this song is the chorus sung in Japanese, but otherwise it is wonderful, and finish with the same effects that began Tie Your Mother Down - so creates a cycle, perhaps the most progressive element of this album.

As you can see, I really enjoyed this album. While many see it as the "last" album Queen of the essential progressive point of view I have faith that the subsequent productions have something to offer me, click me tune this band is progressive or pop - I do not care. 5 stars

Report this review (#681225)
Posted Saturday, March 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars A classic Queen album from 1976 that pairs along with the stronger A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. WHile not quite as consistently good there are still some great numbers here: "Tie Your Mother Down", "Somebody to Love", "WHite Man", and "Teo Torriate". However, a good number of weak tracks like "millionaire Waltz" and "Drowse" keep this from being more than a 3 star album. Above average for the band, but not on the level of the first 2 albums. I don't listen to this very often, not as much as QUEEN II, for sure, but when I do, it brings back pleasant memories of the kings of Glam Rock.
Report this review (#733633)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "A Day at the Races" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK rock act Queen. The album was released through EMI/Parlophone in Europe and Elektra/Hollywood in the US in December 1976.

"A Day at the Races" is in many ways the sister album to "A Night at the Opera (1975)". Stylistically the cover artworks of the two albums are very similar but more importantly the eclectic music style of "A Night at the Opera (1975)" is very much continued on "A Day at the Races". There are elements from theatrical/progressive rock, hard rock, pop and cabaret music on the album. The incredible vocals/backing vocals/choirs are the greatest assets of the music but like the case has been on every preceeding album the instrumental performances are also on a very high level. The compositions wether they are of the more challenging or of the more easily asseccible kind are all very well written. They can be both epic, tongue in cheek humourous, sweet or hard rocking. The latter is certainly the case with album opener "Tie Your Mother Down" but also "White Man" is a pretty hard rocking track. Tracks like "The Millionaire Waltz" and "You Take My Breath Away" represent the more thetrical/progressive part of the band´s repetoire.

In terms of quality I think "A Day at the Races" is a slight step down from "A Night at the Opera (1975)". But only a slight step. This is still a high quality release deserving a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating.

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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've always loved Queen's albums more for their variety than anything else. Which is possibly why this one has always been the album out of all of their best albums from "Sheer Heart Attack" to "Jazz" that rates the lowest. Yes it has some great tracks on it, but I miss the variety more than anything on this album, and it was just recently that I have realized this.

The best songs on here are "White Man", "Long Away", "Teo Torriatte" and "Drowse". The others I find too predictable for Queen and sounding too formulaic in Queens style and sound. There really isn't anything new in the remainder of the tracks, like they were copying what worked for them before. Since I consider the way they can take any style of music and turn it on it's ear and make it sound new and exciting the thing that makes them progressive, then that is why this album suffers in my opinion. Just pick up a copy of "Night at the Opera" and "News of the World", the albums that came before and after this one respectively. Listen to how much variety is on these albums and how each and every song sounds new and different and you'll see what I mean. Variety to a lot of people means inconsistency, but to me it makes the album exciting and unpredictable. That's my problem with this album. Not that it should be ignored, because there might be other reasons why you like Queen, but my reason is because of the way they made you never quite sure what was going to come next.

Anyway, there you have it. I call it good, but non-essential. But that's just my opinion and now I've told you why I feel that way. 3 stars.

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Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Pretty much everyone who likes rock music likes Queen, at least enough to sing along to this album's only hit "Somebody to Love." However, few of those casual fans know much of anything about the band's body of work that isn't played on the radio. A Day at the Races is one such album: it contains one or two songs that will show up on a classic rock FM station, and a collection of other tracks that slip into history. While this album isn't a buried treasure, there are a lot of fun and sometimes interesting tunes to discover.

Queen covers a ton of ground with this album. Songs evoke moods of playfulness, romance, lament, sentimentalism, aggressiveness, etc., all performed in the band's characteristic style. Unlike some Queen albums, and many prog albums, A Day at the Races feels like a collection of songs that stand by themselves, so I'll review it in the same way.

"Tie Your Mother Down" is a rip-roaring opener with an irresistible chorus and drive. It's also the only song on the album that resembles hard rock. It's a lot of fun but disposable rock-n-roll.

"Take My Breath Away" is a lush and tender ballad with layers and layers of Freddie Mercury vocals and only a piano and brief guitar as accompaniment. It's artistic and experimental, but not completely effective. "Long Away" sounds like a Beatles tune, so if you're into that you might like it - it's not for me.

"Millionaire Waltz" is the standout track for me. It's jaunty, playful, well arranged, and creative. In 5 minutes we transition through anachronistic melodies and dynamic vocals, growing to a fierce crescendo that is probably the most powerful moment of the entire album. A creative and enjoyable song that ends with a beautiful and sentiment.

"You and I" is another standout, which while conventional overall, has wonderful phrasing and dynamics. "Somebody to Love" is the incomparable hit of the album, and rightly so. This track is one of Mercury's shining moments, heck, it's a shining moment for the entire band. May has a great solo and the rhythm section creates a dynamic and sweeping feel. A great song - and karaoke nightmare.

"White Man" is a bottom-heavy riff machine, with angsty lyrics and aggressive playing, made more so when surrounded by the playful and sentimental songs that abound throughout the rest of the album. It's a unique entry for the group.

"Loverboy" takes a lot of flak, but it's probably my favorite song on the album. I love it's bouncy, barbershop feel, and lyrical content. It's the kind of song that puts one in a good mood, despite being silly. I sing it to my dog.

"Drowse" is a lamentful and atmospheric song with Taylor taking lead vocals. Unfortunately it locks in a bland tempo, feel, and dynamic, making it among the weakest and empty tracks on the album.

"Teo Torriatte" is the anthemic closer, and while endearing in its lyrical content, falls flat due to a sappy delivery that feels contrived to get as many waving lighters in the air as possible during an arena show.

So all in all a good, but not great album that fans seeking to explore more about Queen will enjoy. However, it won't turn anyone into a Freddie Mercury fanboy.

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Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Despite being ridiculed in the past for their campy brand of humor, Queen really struck a chord with audiences and critics alike when their 1975 masterpiece A Night at the Opera was released. The album seemed to go about the typical Queen formula of bombast and genre-mixing, but had a more cohesive vision and overall sound. The musical picture was completely in focus instead of the inconsistency of previous releases, and thus the public seemed to give it their highest praises. Naturally, this led to certain questions on everybody's minds: what will the next record be like? Will it be similar or throw things up a bit? Will the songwriting style be altered? Well, on December of 1976, everybody's questions were answered. Rather than entering completely new musical territory, A Day at the Races trims some of its predecessor's excess while introducing a few new sounds to keep things fresh. Even then, it still manages to be a superb follow-up.

The typical Queen sound is present in every way here; you'll still hear the multi-layered vocal harmonies, the Vaudevillian sense of humor (hell, this album's title is even taken from a Marx Brothers film), and so forth. However, things are a bit more humble and stripped down musically this time around. For instance, after the one-minute guitar intro by Brian May, "Tie Your Mother Down" storms in to kick the listener right in the face with its aggression. The guitar work is raw and goes back to traditional rock and roll roots, adding up to a sound that's less bombastic and more focused. "You Take My Breath Away" is in a similar vein, but as a ballad. For the majority of the song, it's just Freddie Mercury and his piano; a very melancholic melody is being played beneath Mercury's passionate vocals. Soon enough, more vocal "layers" pop up and the piece becomes more textured as it progresses, but the song's first impression is so subtle and quiet that it's pretty intriguing for a band like Queen.

However, the moments of Queen's traditional progressive rock sound are where this album really shines. I think it's a safe bet that most people have heard, or at the very least heard of, the ballad "Somebody to Love"; with the gospel-like vocal harmonies and waltz-like piano composition, it's still one of the great Queen classics. However, one underrated piece just so happens to be "The Millionaire Waltz." Starting with one of John Deacon's most technically challenging bass lines hanging underneath some lighthearted piano melodies, the song is very effective at varying its dynamics to create a certain sense of atmosphere. About halfway in, the song explodes into a clash of guitar riffing and soaring vocals; however, this disappears about as quickly as it came. Nonetheless, it's a very nice addition to a fantastic power ballad. Finally, there's the quirky strut of "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy"; the song is every bit as fun and suave as the title suggests. The vocal harmonies are very carefully placed to give a joyful mood to the swift piano melody. The musicianship is as tight as ever, but the band members give each other room to breathe when it comes to solo spots and solid musical foundations. There are some darker moments on this record as well; I already mentioned "You Take My Breath Away," but "Long Away" also comes to mind as a very sad tune. Brian May's chord progressions give off a melancholic, almost nostalgic tone as he sings his lyrics of loneliness and isolation. Definitely more of a downer, but a great song nonetheless.

So is there anything bad about this record? The only negative aspect of it is that it lacks the overall vision that A Night at the Opera had. A Night at the Opera was similarly loaded with great songs, but the overall album flowed a bit better than this one. This album doesn't really feel like an album as much as just a collection of songs; the benefit of this, however, is that it's easier to pick out a song that you really enjoy and listen to it at any point in time. Overall, this is easily one of Queen's strongest albums. It isn't quite as solid as A Night at the Opera, but it comes really damn close.

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Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink

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