Queen: A Night At The Opera (1975)

Hey, I'm not going to sit here and pretend to be a big Queen fan.  If you've been perusing these write-ups and have a general sense of my taste, that's not gonna fly.  For most of my life, I've been perfectly satisfied with a Greatest Hits-sized allotment of Queen, maybe 100 minutes of truly essential songs, and could pretty much take or leave the albums.  (Unfortunately, the appeal of Queen among my more lunk-headed classmates, immortally depicted in Wayne's World, put me off a bit.)  The only album I spent much time with upon its initial release was 1980's The Game, which had a more contemporary vibe than most of their work.

Still, I do go through phases where I'll sit through the full albums and give 'em another shot.  When Queen underwent a reissue campaign a few years back, adding some sonic sheen to the albums (and bonus tracks), I gained some greater appreciation for a lot of their work.  (On the other hand, this became more problematic when my parents, who used to recoil in horror when I cranked "Killer Queen" in the house as a kid, were excited about the Freddy Mercury film.)

So while I can't profess to have a "favorite" Queen album, insofar as that suggests there's one I really like from start to finish, I can't deny there is some emotional resonance with A Night At The Opera.  "Bohemian Rhapsody" was the first single I ever bought, because I was nine years old when it was released and if you were nine years old in 1975 "Bohemian Rhapsody" was pretty much the coolest thing on the planet.  (Plus, its extended length made the 99-cents investment more palatable, even if that meant I had to give up that week's purchase of Wacky Packs and Legion of Superheroes/Justice League comics.)

Beyond that one song, I'd say about half the album is pretty great.  I still love "You're My Best Friend," another great single when I was a kid which holds up tremendously well even if its charming earnestness makes it a guilty pleasure of sorts.  I actually preferred a lot of Brian May's stuff to Mercury's; "'39" is a terrific, folky little ballad (similar in style to May's even better "Long Away" on the next album, just about my favorite Queen song ever); and "Good Company" has a certain charm as well.

On the whole, I tend to prefer to campy, glam-infused songs here (i.e. "Seaside Rendezvous") to the more proggy hard rock numbers (I'm less partial to the abrasive "Sweet Lady" and the sprawling "Prophet's Song"), and "Love Of My Life" is way too sappy for my taste.  But it's hard not to appreciate the sweeping variety the album offers, even if I will probably always enjoy the band in smaller doses.  While I will stand by my homemade hits compilation (can't really do without "Keep Yourself Alive," "Killer Queen," "Fat Bottomed Girls," "Hammer To Fall," etc.), this is still one of the few albums I (mostly) find pretty damned entertaining.

Here's that "Bohemian Rhapsody" video you've seen a billion times:
 ...and the video for "You're My Best Friend":
And here's a live take on "'39":



Comments

  1. I love that album...can you repost (here in the comments) the old 75 best albums of all time list? thank you.

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