Queen - A Night At The Opera

Queen – A Night At The Opera


This is the career defining album ‘A Night At The Opera’ (ANATO), and of course the real game changer being the global smash hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Written by: Explorer

ALBUM: A Night At The Opera
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: Reissue Details

LINEUP: Freddie Mercury – vocals’ * Brian May – guitars, vocals’ * Roger Taylor – drums, percussion, vocals * John Deacon – bass guitar, electric piano double bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Death On Two Legs * 02 Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon * 03 I’m In Love With My Car * 04 You’re My Best Friend * 05 ’39 * 06 Sweet Lady * 07 Seaside Rendezvous * 08 The Prophet’s Song * 09 Love Of My Life * 10 Good Company * 11 Bohemian Rhapsody * 12 God Save The Queen



The start of 1975 saw Queen riding the crest of a wave with the international breakthrough success of the album ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and single ‘Killer Queen’. So you would have thought that all was rosy in the Queen garden, not so. The band were seemingly locked into a terrible management deal and surviving on a weekly wage of around 20 a week, whilst their management swanked around in Rolls Royce’s and leading a far more extravagant lifestyle than their talented charges.

Even getting money for new instruments proved nigh on impossible. So the band decided that this year was to be a real make or break period for them. They started actively shopping around for ways of removing themselves from their management deal and took advice from some of the management heavyweights around at the time, Peter Grant of Led Zeppelin fame being one of them.

They finally settled on Elton John‘s Manager John Reid, who told them he would sort the management side of things out and for them to go off and make the best record they could possibly make, the result being the career defining album ‘A Night At The Opera’ (ANATO), and of course the real game changer ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

The Songs

At the time ANATO was touted as the most expensive album ever made, and listening to it back then it is easy to see why. ANATO is packed full of sublime songs with an unerring sense of detail given to every last one of them. Six studios were employed to produce this opus, with, at times each band member working separately to achieve the glorious end result.

The album kicks off with Queen in heavy rock mode with ‘Death On Two Legs’ which was a vicious riposte to their former management with Freddie spitting out the lyrics with real venom and hatred, before we get a real 180 and head off into the realms of British Vaudeville with ‘Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon’.

‘I’m In Love With My Car’ sees Roger Taylor handling vocals on a rip snorter of a rocker which is an ode to all the boy racers. ‘You’re My Best Friend’ follows and is a gorgeous slice of pop. Written by John Deacon who up ’til now had only offered a short song for ‘Sheer Heart Attack’. Deacon went on to become somewhat of a secret weapon for the band writing some of their later bigger hits.

The remaining trio of songs on side one see Queen dipping their toes into folk with ’39’, no frills ‘out and out’ rock with ‘Sweet Lady’ and British music hall in ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ the latter being an exercise in how to use voices to imitate woodwind and brass. If all that wasn’t enough to get ones juices flowing, there was even better to come on side two.

‘The Prophet’s Song’ has Queen in full-on prog mode with tales of seers and sages, and is topped off with an amazing acapella section which when used in a live setting was jaw dropping. At over 8 minutes this was Queens’ longest song and also one of their very best. ‘Love Of My Life’ is a ballad which we all now identify with Queen and in particular Freddie Mercury, again in the live setting this song took on a new lease of life, and let’s not forget you get Brian May on Harp, how many times can you say that in a rock review?

‘Good Company’ is pretty much Brian May’s baby as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is Freddie’s, here Brian conjures up a jazz band out of his legendary homemade guitar, as an exercise in how to utilise the studio this takes some beating. But beaten it was with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. There is little or nothing I can add to what has already been said about this song except to say that it still sounds as fresh and vital as it did those 40 years ago. Once heard, never forgotten.

The album finishes on their own take of the British national anthem and is still used as a closer to their shows. The playing and production is, of course of the highest quality. Producer Roy Thomas Baker also deserves a mention as he seemed to be the perfect conduit to bring all of Queen’s ideas together, over the preceding years he had developed an understanding of what the band wanted and suited Queen’s approach beautifully.

In Summary

ANATO cemented Queen’s place in rock folklore, of course on the back of the incredible success of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and it’s groundbreaking video, and also as well the legendary Christmas Eve concert broadcast live for the BBC, which has finally seen the light of day with the superb ‘A Night At The Odeon’.

Regular readers of this site will know that ‘Queen II’ is my favourite album, period, but ANATO and ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ run it bloody close. Throughout those heady days of the 70’s Queen’s inventiveness seemed boundless, for me anyway it was a shame that they traded this in for a more safer, commercial sound. But I digress. Back in 1975 this album was astonishing and is still today, the sheer scope and diversity literally takes your breath away. Quite, quite brilliant.


Entire Album (Select Tracks)

Playlist: Queen - A Night at the Opera (Full Album)
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