The Countertop Chronicles

"Run by a gun zealot who's too blinded by the NRA" - Sam Penney of

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A Night At The Opera

Sorry bout the overabundance of Queen here, but I just wanted to stress that if your not familiar with this album, go out and buy it now!!!!! Here is a great review.
Review Written by Daniel Giambruno
A Night At The Opera - Released on 21st November 1975

Chart Info - UK: 1 (50 weeks on chart), USA: 4 (56 weeks on chart), Japan: 9 (52 weeks on chart)

It doesn't get any better than this. As far as I'm concerned this is the greatest album recorded in Rock History. Curiously, it was the first Queen album I ever had (technically speaking, it belonged to my brother though). It was recorded in a time when Rock Artists used to experiment with big and unusual sounds and whatever they recorded was an attempt to share a place with the Olympian Gods. Mind you, if it wasn't for this way of approaching music, we wouldn't have albums like Led Zeppelin IV and Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon among others.

The amazing thing is that A Night At The Opera hasn't aged either, it remains fresh and powerful and if it wasn't because it's so good (and obviously well known) you could believe we are listening to a current recording. Probably, Queen's reluctance to use synthesizers (in a time when synthesizers sounded like toys) has a lot to do with it. Freddie's voice and the sound of Brian's red special guitar have never been so abundant and balanced between them like they are in this album (with the exception, maybe, of Queen II.

Right from the beginning, the excellent Death On Two Legs lets us know that this is not your average heavy metal album, a blend of classical music and hard rock characterizes this song written by Freddie that would cause them some legal problems. Since the song is dedicated to someone whose name is never stated and with lyrics such as You suck my blood like a leech, You break the law and you breach, Screw my brain till it hurts, You've taken all my money - you still want more, ..., Norman Sheffield, by then owner of Trident Studios (company that paid them peanuts even after the success of Killer Queen and Now I'm Here) believed that the song was about him and threatened Queen with suing them. In order to avoid jeopardizing the release of the album, Queen agreed to pay him a substantial amount of money. Years later in the Live Killers version of Death On Two Legs, Freddie's introduction prior to the song would provoke some censorship beeps due to the nature of his words about the recipient of the dedication but apparently he took good care of not mentioning any name once again.

Another of Freddie's songs follows almost without a break right after Death On Two Legs, the short and burlesque Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon and with these two songs Queen already establishes the operatic spirit of the album. I'm In Love With My Car, one of Roger's classics, not only shows his passion for four-wheeled objects but it also becomes a source of inspiration for many Heavy Metal bands to come. All the fury of I'm In Love With My Car is immediately contrasted by You're My Best Friend, an easy to listen ballad written by John that would become his first super hit Another One Bites The Dust and I Want To Break Free.

Brian sings a science fiction story in his folk song '39, despite the excellence of this ballad, songs like this wouldn't be repeated in Queen's career and it would take more than a decade for Brian, the author himself, to do something similar, not as good though, in his solo album Back To The Light with the song Let Your Heart Rule Your Head, which in live performances would be blended with the opening of '39. Written also by Brian, Sweet Lady show us once more how Queen are capable to go from a peaceful piece of music to a furious heavy metal in a matter of seconds. Seaside Rendezvous is Queen in vaudeville style once again. A really amusing and enjoyable song where Freddie and Roger are in charge of the vocal orchestration of Brass and Woodwind.

In a completely different mood, The Prophet's Song is an extraordinary display of Queen's vocal capabilities and its apocalyptic lyrics are of a Biblical nature, a recurrent subject in Queen's career Jesus and All God's People among many others). Not knowing exactly where The Prophet's Song ends, one of the best songs of the album starts: Freddie's Love Of My Life. History hasn't been fair enough with this amazing ballad and some people only know the live version released some years later but if you want to listen to Freddie at his best (and Brian playing the harp) you must listen this studio version. Freddie would write similar songs in forthcoming albums but nothing exactly quite like it.
Brian swaps the harp for an ukulele in Good Company, another song that matches the classy old fashioned mood of the album and with it Brian gives more evidence of his storytelling skills.

Finally, Bohemian Rhapsody, more than a song an anthem. Queen's first piece of music to be included in the eternal jukebox. It is one of those master pieces that are impossible to describe with words because its musical value is not transferable, it is out there to be listened to and most people don't get tired of doing it.

With the videos for Bohemian Rhapsody and You're My Best Friend, this album inaugurated Music Video as a promotional tool for singles released thereafter. However, A Night At The Opera wasn't recorded having some sort of visual aid in mind and therefore, music and lyrics appeal to your senses on their own. I consider myself lucky of first seeing the Video for Bohemian Rhapsody a few years later than when it was made. Even when I really like it and it gives me a chance to see my favourites stars, it couldn't possibly match such an opus like Bohemian Rhapsody the song. I firmly believe that Music Videos are not necessarily a great help for good songs since these ones make you create your own ever changing pictures in your mind, pictures that are destroyed when the video is released.

The last song of the album is Queen's respectful version of God Save The Queen but its expected solemnity is still obscured by the magnificence of Bohemian Rhapsody, an anthem of a much wider kind. God Save The Queen would be useful in the future to close Queen concerts.

If you don't have A Night At The Opera go and buy it, even if you already have a copy of Bohemian Rhapsody in some compilation. There are songs that you'll only find in this album like Death On Two Legs and the studio version of Love Of My Life that are worth more than what you ever could pay for the whole album; make sure you're buying the digitally remastered version.

Produced by Roy Thomas Baker & Queen, engineered by Mike Stone & Gary Lyons, recorded at Sarm, Roundhouse, Olympic, Rockfield, Scorpio and Lansdowne Studios, England. Sleeve concept by Queen, art direction by David Costa.

Freddie Mercury : Vocals, Vocals, Bechstein Debauchery and more Vocals
Brian May : Guitars, Harp, Genuine Aloha Ukelele, vocals and Orchestral Backdrops
Roger Taylor : Percussion and vocals
John Deacon : Electric Bass, Double Bass and Electric Piano
No synthesizers!

I can't stress enough how good this album is. In its honor - here is another song lyric from it . . . the opening track - Death on Two Legs
Death on Two Legs (Dedicated To...)
Words and music by Freddie Mercury

You suck my blood like a leech
You break the law and you preach
Screw my brain till it hurts
You've taken all my money
And you want more
Misguided old mule with your pig headed rules
With your narrow minded cronies
Who are fools of the first division
Death on two legs
You're tearing me apart
Death on two legs
You've never had a heart of your own
Kill joy bad guy big talking small fry
You're just an old barrow boy
Have you found a new toy to replace me?
Can you face me?
But now you can kiss my ass goodbye
Feel good are you satisfied?
Do you feel like suicide?
(I think you should)
Is your conscience all right
Does it plague you at night?
Do you feel good feel good?

You talk like a big business tycoon
You're just a hot air balloon
So no one gives you a damn
You're just an overgrown schoolboy
Let me tan your hide
A dog with disease
You're the king of the 'sleaze'
Put your money where your mouth is
Mister know-all
Was the fin on your back
Part of the deal? (Shark)
Death on two legs
You're tearing me apart
Death on two legs
You've never had a heart (you never did) of your own
(Right from the start)
Insane you should be put inside
You're a sewer rat decaying in a cesspool of pride
Should be made unemployed
Then make yourself null and void
Make me feel good I feel good


Post a Comment

<< Home