I’ve really been looking forward to today. I’ve had these two records cued up in line for the turntable for weeks, and, with the day off and getting ready for the night shift, I was able to sit back, relax, and give these things some attention:
Two wonderfully complimentary albums from Queen: A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races.
The four words that I kept thinking were: layered, complex, campy and brilliant.
Night starts out strong with lyrical daggers thrown by Freddie Mercury toward an unnamed target in the song Death On Two Legs… segues seamlessly into Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon and spirals out of control into the Roger Taylor classic I’m In Love With My Car. The one thing you notice midway in to this opening set is that this record is a studio wizard’s wet dream! Dynamics are building up and falling down while sounds are panning full speed left and right.
The studio elements really knock your socks off when applied to the bands vocals, sometimes multi-tracking into seemingly into 100 part harmonies. A great example of these techniques is on the first song from side B, The Prophet’s Song. Mercury’s multi-track and overdubbed canon here was breathtaking.
Night finishes out with Bohemian Rhapsody which, according to Wikipedia, is the 3rd best selling single ever, and Brian May’s homage to the Hendrix Star Spangled Banner, God Save The Queen.
Night was reportedly the most expensive album ever produced at the time, 1975, which still amazes me that this thing is almost 40 years old.
Day came out the next year and it finds the band building on the studio magic perfected on Night. The record hits harder out of the gate with the arena rock anthem Tie Your Mother Down.
Other than the big hit Somebody To Love, the songs here are less classic rock radio friendly, but still wonderfully complex and engaging. I especially enjoyed the hard rock song White Man for the bad assed May guitar sound he manages.
Mock vocals, harp, backmasking, Japanese lyrics, vaudeville, ukulele, these records have it all.