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




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3.78 | 536 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
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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.

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |


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