Thursday, July 21, 2016

When Music Mattered - A Night At The Opera (1975)

There will never be a band as versatile and eccentric as Queen ever again in rock history. And if another band does try to be as versatile and eccentric as Queen, then they will never be able to pull it off like Freddie and the boys did. If you want to listen to a record that convinces you repeatedly that you are listening to a compilation album made up of several different bands, then check out A Night At The Opera. There has never been, and never will be, an album like this in rock music ever again.

One of the reasons that Queen's musical catalog is so versatile is that every band member was encouraged to write material and make their own musical ideas come to life. There was no primary filter like other bands have or had that condensed songs down into a common sound that fans could identify. Brian May wrote songs that were very different from Freddie Mercury's. But when Brian May had a song idea, Freddie Mercury would work with Brian May to get the sound May wanted. Mercury and the other guys in the band never pushed a song in any direction unless the writer asked. It is that diversity that made Queen so appealing to so many people, and it is that diversity that makes A Night At The Opera a classic.

There are some very unique songs on this record including the 1920s inspired "Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon" and Roger Taylor's "I'm In Love With My Car." Brian May uses a variety of guitar effects to get that vintage trombone sound, while Freddie Mercury seems right at home playing ragtime piano. Roger Taylor gives an uncomfortably passionate performance in a song that is indeed written for and about his car. The song "39" is a high-spirited song about space travel, and the album ends with "Bohemian Rhapsody."

The song "You're My Best Friend" is John Deacon's only contribution to the record, but it remains one of the most popular Queen songs of all-time. Queen's ability to bring their talents together to enhance a band member's songwriting idea instead of mold into something they would have written themselves is something that is unique in the world of rock and roll. There were no egos in Queen, and the result is some of the best rock music ever created.

Another fun aspect of Queen is that they named two of their albums after Marx Brothers movies. A Day At The Races and A Night At The Opera were two hit Marx Brothers comedies that obviously made a significant impact on Queen. Neither of the albums have anything to do with the Marx Brothers movies, nor do they have anything to do with races or operas. Although, it does seem appropriate that "Bohemian Rhapsody" would be featured on an album called A Night At The Opera.

If you have never heard A Night At The Opera, it deserves at least one listen, even if you are not a Queen fan. The music on this record is diverse and entertaining, and it is extremely easy to appreciate. Give this record a listen and, even if you don't become a Queen fan, you can at least say that you heard one of the most eccentric records in rock history.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III is a music fan who loves Queen and the Marx Brothers. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him an email at georgenroot3@gmail.com.

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