Blast From The Past!
Queen – ‘A Night At The Opera’ (1975)
As a young ‘un, when it comes to the world of rawk, I’ve had to scrabble together a decent collection in a short amount of time in order to confidently call myself a fan. Thankfully, I had a stroke of luck a few weeks back, and bought some Queen MP3’s off eBay, rounding my sum total of their albums from five, to a healthy (??) twenty-eight. But before this windfall, a good friend sent me a copy of ‘A Night At The Opera’, most famed for featuring the classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. And in my opinion, this album embodies everything that everybody loves about Queen, in one shiny, loud, flamboyant, hard-rocking microcosm. Ground-breaking of its time, it’s now become my favourite Queen album, and possibly my favourite album full stop, thirty years later. One of the most wonderful things is, Roger and Brian get a chance at stealing the limelight vocally, which happened less and less throughout their
The auto-friendly ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ is a very manly, boy racer inspired offering from Roger, with the familiar operatic harmonies draped across the very rocked-up backing, probably seeming out of place to the untrained Queen ear. The highlight of the album arrives at track five, with Brian May’s ”39′ – one of my favourite songs of all time. His voice is perfectly suited to this all-acoustic track,
telling an old time story (which I’ve always had a soft spot for), which the band do so well (think ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’). A sweetly emotional song, wistful and delightfully different to the rest of the album.
‘The Prophet’s Song’ is another of my favourites from this album (I’m making it sound like a Greatest Hits – although only two tracks from the album made it onto any of the Greatest Hits albums, even if they all deserve it). At over eight minutes long, it’s not for the impatient first listener, but it’s certainly worth it. Set in ancient times, again with that old fashioned feeling, it almost makes rock biblical (ironically). You can tell Freddie revels in this song, sounding his best, with brilliant apocalyptic lyrics – “the earth will shake, in two will break, and death all around will be our dowry”. So, it’s not the jauntiest song on the album, but you can so easily get lost in a medieval dream. Speaking of jaunty, ‘Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon’ is the epitome of the word. Short and sweet, it gives connotations of pure Englishness. Maybe a jolly young man in a pinstriped suit, skipping past London zoo. Or something. The marvellous ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ gives another taster of this later on, telling the tale of a romantic… umm… seaside rendezvous! There’s saxophone, tap dancing, whistling AND piano, which all make for ripping good listening. That’s where the camp side of Queen really comes out of the closet. Har har.
The first of the two recognisable songs on there is the wonderful sing-along ‘You’re My Best Friend’; always a favourite with fans of all ages. The second is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, placed near the end for a grand finale, and a good head-banging sesh as soon as that memorable riff kicks in.
Words simply cannot do this album justice. If you’ve read this, just buy the damn record, because what I’ve said only expresses one thousandth of its greatness.