Queen
A Night at the Opera


5.0
classic

Review

by ZackSh33 USER (55 Reviews)
June 16th, 2016 | 18 replies


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: God Save the Queen

As a band, Queen simultaneously came of age and sharpened their skills during the age of glam rock in Britain, a period in music when being androgynous was common place, the costumes and guitar riffs were wild, and the instrumentation was nothing short of being over the top. In their native country, Queen competed for chart attention alongside the likes of Ziggy Stardust era-David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, and T. Rex, and shared a similar penchant for theatrics. But, as it turns out, Queen took as much influence in their sound from bands firmly in the burgeoning hard rock scene, including Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. It was by combining these two musical worlds together that Queen created their best known and career-defining album, A Night At the Opera.

At the time of its creation, A Night At the Opera was the most expensive album ever created – on paper, this could come as a relative shock to some given that the band had still had not reached their commercial potential as the glam era (and some would say their window of opportunity for further commercial success) was coming to a close by the time 1975 rolled around, but, it should come as no surprise that, aurally, A Night At the Opera sounds like a million dollars. From the building piano arpeggios at the beginning of the sharp “Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To…)” to the acoustic science fiction skiffle of “39,” to the closing sky-reaching guitar of “God Save the Queen,” A Night At the Opera is produced to the very limit without muddling any of the arrangements or dynamics. As was typical of Queen throughout their career, Brian May’s guitar playing stands out as the instrumental highlight, with producer Roy Thomas Baker layering and doubling his guitar tracks together to the point that the reel of tape being used was famously completely see-through. Needless to say, May’s theatric and melodic playing on this album are what air-guitarist’s dreams are made of. Of course, the real highlight of any Queen album is the incomparable Freddie Mercury, who was at the top of his game during this period. Mercury sweetly croons his way through the more accessible moments on this album; the sublime, “You’re My Best Friend,” and the operatic ballad “Love of My Life,” while showing the true range of his vocal talents during more progressive, hard-rock based songs such as the spit fire kiss-off “Death on Two Legs,” the driving “Sweet Lady.” But, Mercury really shines on the two epics on this album, “The Prophet’s Song,” and, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” songs that were more in line with their earlier work. Regardless of the tone of the song, every note that Mercury has the chance to sing is pure, melodic, and perfect, and it is difficult to think of a better overall, wide-ranging vocal performance in the history of rock than Mercury’s vocal contributions on this album.

Because of their glam rock influences, Queen was also substantially more camp, and more fun than other heavy metal and hard rock bands of their era, a fact which can be traced back to the album that proceeded this one, Sheer Heart Attack. On A Night At the Opera, there are many appearances of the camp sense of style that the band possessed – perhaps most famously during the operetta section of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but there are also many tracks on this album which take direct influence from music hall, including “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon,” and “Seaside Rendezvous.” Even the May-penned ukulele jam “Good Company” is certainly not meant to be taken seriously in comparison to his other work. All of these tracks add a much needed sense of depth to the album, and ultimately make the more serious songs hit even harder. You would think that all of these different styles of music on the same album wouldn’t work, but the sheer strength of each individual song, alongside some wildly innovative and, in retrospect, genius production techniques, make the album cohesive, despite it not being anything close to a concept album.

Since its release, many members of Queen have stated that if A Night At the Opera had failed commercially, the band may have called it quits, and we may have remembered them as nothing but a glam-rock one hit wonder. Luckily, the six minute manifesto, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” became as unlikely a number one hit as there ever has been, “You’re My Best Friend” became a radio hit, and Queen enjoyed many more years of success dabbling in various genres such as pure radio pop, dance, and rockabilly. As it turns out, A Night At the Opera, while not as seamless in construction as their previous three albums, ultimately became their most electrifying and memorable work, and holds up to this day because of the band’s fearlessness in exploring different musical styles, but also because of superb songwriting and arrangements, production, and fantastic individual performances from each member of the band. Long live the Queen.



Recent reviews by this author
Now (US) Now That's What I Call Music! 3Superorganism Superorganism
Tame Impala Currents B-Sides and RemixesNoel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Who Built the Moon?
Now (US) Now That's What I Call Music! 2Liam Gallagher As You Were
user ratings (1640)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
HarryManback21 (5)
A great and ambitious masterpiece...

Necrotica (4.5)
Bombast at its finest....

The JoZ (4.5)
...

gblackman (4)
Not to say A Night at the Opera doesn’t have its problems because it does but the good easily out ...



Comments:Add a Comment 
ZackSh33
June 16th 2016


681 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Comments and feedback always appreciated



This album needed a 5 star review.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2016


11719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very enjoyable read Zack, pos.



I agree with what you said about the antithesis created among the more playful tracks and the serious ones. Their placement is also not random as Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon and Seaside Rendezvous precede or come after the most heavy hitting songs of the album.

ZackSh33
June 16th 2016


681 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks manosg! It's pretty remarkable that songs like Seaside Rendezvous and Prophet's Song can sit next to each other. Shows how great of an album this really is



manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2016


11719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For sure. Personally, I would find it very hard to enjoy even slightly Seaside Rendezvous if it wasn't for Freddie. And the fact that it's nest to Prophet's Song is amazing.

TVC15
June 16th 2016


10023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can and will never understand why people on Sput hate this album. I'm really surprised this is the first 5 review for this album so major props for that

Digging: Soundtrack (Film) - Climax (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

adr
June 16th 2016


12006 Comments


there is only 27 ratings out of 1264 below a 3, but yeah sput truly hate this album lmao

Cygnatti
June 16th 2016


32824 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

that would mean that 2.136% of people think that this is subpar.

ZackSh33
June 16th 2016


681 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

idk if "hate" is the right word, but there are a bunch of folks on here who like Queen II more compared to this



Personally, I think they're both classics

ZackSh33
June 16th 2016


681 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@cygnatti you are the 2.136%!

Cygnatti
June 16th 2016


32824 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

#imaspecialsnowflake

adr
June 16th 2016


12006 Comments


band sucks as a whole tbh it's not only this album
checked "Greatest Hits" recently, it was ugh..

MrSirLordGentleman
June 16th 2016


12474 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

band rules tho so

Ebola
June 16th 2016


3597 Comments


Great review, pos. No idea why you got a neg, review is well-written.

e210013
June 17th 2016


2361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great job here Zach. You've reached the real point with your review. Practically all the most important things about the album were said by you.

What I only want to say is that I always loved the album. With it, Queen reached their highest point as a glam and art rock band. The album is lmost perfect with its pinacle with “The Prophet’s Song,” and, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody,”. My only personal doubt always was what is really my favourite album of them, "Queen II" or this one. In terms of prog I prefer "Queen II", but in terms of musical spectacle, "A Night At The Opera" is really their great masterpiece.

Pos.



manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 17th 2016


11719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good point e21. Queen II isn't just my favorite Queen but one of my all time favorites regardless of genre. From the iconic cover, to the contrast between the two sides (white vs black) and of course the brilliant bombastic "March of the Black Queen".

e210013
June 17th 2016


2361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I completely agree manosg. I forgot to mention the brilliant contrast between the two sides of the album. This is really another brilliant work of them.

TheIntruder
July 13th 2016


411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

An awesome album from an awesome band. Great review too. I agree with comments of e210013 and manosg. Pos.

ZackSh33
July 13th 2016


681 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks intruder!



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy