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




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3.77 | 533 ratings

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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.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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