Queen: Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera
(Hollywood Records)

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Piano rolling and chopping guitar madness opens all that is perfect about Queen’s A Night at the Opera. From that first tune, “Death On Two Legs,” a not-so-veiled attack from Queen’s lead singer/pianist at the band’s ex-manager, to the mega hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it’s evident to anyone who’s heard the original version of this masterpiece to hearing this new re-mastered two-disk version that Queen was opening up to a new level with their fourth album.

“I’m In Love with My Car” (one of my personal Queen faves) sees drummer Roger Taylor taking a sexy lead vocal.  The band’s tapestry-like vocals elevate “You’re My Best Friend,” which was the first single written by bassist John Deacon.  He plays both bass and the very distinctive Wurlitzer electric piano.  It is followed by the “sci-fi skiffle” “’39” on which Brian May sings, writes and plays acoustic guitar. There’s the infamous Mercury/Taylor imitation of wind and brass instruments on “Seaside Rendezvous” and one of the band’s longest songs, the Brain May tour de force “The Prophet Song” follows. “Love Of My Life” is here, the beautiful piano/vocal tune from Mercury.  (The second disk has the 1979 live version  released in South America featuring what would turn out to be a live Queen staple with the audience singing the verses so loudly that Mercury would stop singing altogether.)  “Bohemian Rhapsody” is here too, though I can’t add to what has been written about this Queen classic, except to say it sounds great on this version.

Disk two includes a lost “retake” from 1975 of the band’s debut album opener “Keep Yourself Alive,” the isolated operatic section from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a backing track isolation from “You’re My Best Friend” and “I’m In Love With My Car [Guitar & Vocal Mix 2011]”. All neat stuff, but I feel the extras are being padded out here to justify a second disk with the only pieces of any worthiness being a 1977 live version of “’39” and that live single of “Love.”

If you don’t have A Night at the Opera you should grab this version to better your education on rock perfection.

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