Queen "A night at the opera" poll

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sear, Dec 16, 2020.

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  1. Ernold

    Ernold Look up the number

    I think it's very clearly about Freddie's personal feelings and his struggles to come to terms with things, but of course I could be wrong.
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  2. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Senior Member

    I always thought that as well. The title and the final words are very telling.
    Freddie even said the song was "about relationships".
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  3. Zach Johnson

    Zach Johnson Forum Resident

    Toronto, Ontario
    Side 1 is a 3/5...Side 2 is a 5/5...So I'll go 4/5.

    My 4th favourite Queen album behind the first two and A Day at the Races.
  4. 131east23

    131east23 Person of Interest

    I think the best song on the album is The Prophet's Song. I love the way it opens side two. Here was a band that really thought hard about track order, album sides. The Prophet's Song is a fairly serious song, a foray into prog rock, as I never really think of Queen as prog, even though I consider them to be concept oriented. The entire first side is a real gem... talk about world building, it really transports you to another time, has this sentimental vibe without being sappy. The humor in the album, well most bands couldn't pull this off as they would be laughed at, instead we get the inside joke, wink, wink, and enjoy it. Overall, side 2 isn't quite as good as side 1, but for me, the best song on the album starts side two so I go along for the entire ride. I did not disparage Bohemian Rhapsody in my remarks - it's a great song, but had another band tried something like that it would have been relegated to a Dr. Demento staple. Again they pull it off - overblown, crazy, even campy, but somehow all in good taste and incredibly meaningful. These four guys are masters in the studio on the scale of Steely Dan. Also, as time has moved on and Bohemian Rhapsody has become an everyday occurrence for all of us, and Queen has grown in stature, the thing we forget is that Bohemian Rhapsody is a song that they could never really pull off live. I was disappointed, just a bit, in 1980 when I went to see them live as they rolled the tape and left the stage for a while only to come back, finish and take a bow. But the entire album is a 5/5.
  5. carlwm

    carlwm Forum Resident

    Indeed, but I'd be curious to know how many people managed to spot that before Freddie opened up about it in interviews and the like. There's so much going on within the song, it seems so much more than just an introspective whinge about the writer's feelings.
  6. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Senior Member

    Heck even if you were disparaging BR, that is OK. I just was curious what your favorite song was and why.
    I agree with you. I like the Prophet Song and Death on Two Legs more than BR. Although I think that the choral interlude in The Prophet's song is too long for me. Dare I say it but the guitar coda recapitulation thingy does not do much for the song either. That and the choral interlude takes away some of the power of the song IMO.
    Prophet's Song is definitely in the Prog category IMO as are many of their other songs.
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  7. Ernold

    Ernold Look up the number

    I don't think it is even remotely "an introspective whinge", and I don't think one can possibly say that "Freddie opened up about it in interviews", as that's one thing that the man simply never did. He was notoriously private and taciturn. He said almost nothing about any of his lyrics.

    The reason I think it is about his personal life is that almost every line, even in much of the opera and rock sections, makes sense in the context of that interpretation. It's very much a song of self doubt (constantly addressing his mother), a certain degree of despair ("I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all"), and an eventual fatalism/acceptance ("any way the wind blows"). The rock section tackles the topic from a perspective of anger and frustration ("so you think you can love me and leave me to die?"), rather than fear and melancholy. The opera section, far from being a frivolity, is a nightmarish vision of religious punishment ("will you let me go?").

    We can hear similar doubt and uncertainty in Lily of the Valley and In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited from the previous album, and I'd argue that they deal with the same issues, but it all reaches a sort of head on Bo Rhap, and we know that it was at this time that his relationship with Mary fell apart, romantically at least.

    Tellingly, we never hear this sort of anguish in any of Freddie's lyrics again. We hear him sing of love and heartache, yes, but not existential despair. And from 1977 onwards, it is clear from songs like Get Down Make Love and Don't Stop Me Now that he was finally pretty comfortable with himself.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2020
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  8. Baphomet

    Baphomet The Wanderer

    I preferred Queens earlier albums, Queen 1 and Sheer Heart Attack.

    I"m a Rock fan, my favourite songs on this album are...

    Death on Two Legs
    I'm in Love With my Car
    The Prophet's Song

    And Bohemian Rhapsody is often voted the greatest ever song in UK polls.
  9. Emerald Bar

    Emerald Bar Forum Resident

    A Night At The Opera is truly a masterpiece and deserves its plaudits. The song-writing, performances, production and its sheer audacity are all breathtaking. A band at the peak of their powers.
    The greatest album ever, as far as I'm concerned.
  10. mwheelerk

    mwheelerk A mindislikeaparachuteItdoesn'tworkifitisnotopen

    Gilbert Arizona
  11. Neonbeam

    Neonbeam All Art Was Once Contemporary

    Planet Earth
    Not taking criticism especially well, are we? Zero need to make such a fuss about it. You said something, I commented. It does happen you know. "Insecure"? "Immature"? Hmmmm.... I wonder who you could be talking about. :whistle:

    Probably best to get back to "A Night At The Opera".
  12. Ernold

    Ernold Look up the number

    Nope, not what happened. What happened was that I said something, and you attempted to proclaim that I hadn't a right to say it - a rather different thing entirely, matey.

    The conclusion that I, and no doubt others, drew was that my opinion sadly upset you, so you attempted to call it 'offside', but in doing so, made yourself look decidedly childish, just as your animated emojis do.

    But by all means carry on.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2020
  13. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    My favourite Queen album by far.

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  14. Andrew Russe

    Andrew Russe Forum Resident

    Watching A Night At The Odeon at the moment.

    It was interesting reading people's thoughts on "masterpiece".

    In the case of Queen, for me, on record, everything was leading up to this album in the first part of their career.

    Live they were always doing their thing, building up reputation, stage act, momentum, following, etc... But what they were really doing is putting on the best show they could. They were a live band who wanted to make records and have hits. They never really changed live, the show just got bigger and bigger. I was at the last gig - it was the same joyous bombastic rock and roll candy-floss as this 1975 Hammersmith Odeon show. Different hairdos, costumes, and waistlines, and we in the audience knew our lines a lot better... but it was the same show with different songs.

    In the studio, though, I've always felt they were "finding themselves" while trying to capture some cool tunes on record. And get those hits, they wanted hits (I think this is important to note - some acts chased hit singles, some turned their noses up to it... Nothing wrong with either approach, both methods create what I think of as good music. But Queen were definitely a "pop band" in that they wanted hit singles... )

    Here's how I perceive(d) the early run of albums
    1. Queen - a band's first album, including demos etc. stunning for what it is (if you like this kind of music! I do, always will)
    2. Queen II is mighty cool but not, on record, what they were to become. Took me a long time to appreciate this album (I joined later at age 12 with Bohemian Rhapsody the Christmas No1 in the UK)
    3. Sheer Heart Attack they found out how to capture the sounds they were reaching for. They had an almost No1, and they'd created what they must have thought would be their career-long anthem/set-closer.
    4. A Night At The Opera - they put it all together, and created this sublime "thing". They recorded an album as a music hall "bit of everything" package. They thought it would bomb or be a huge success. With it they conquered the UK, established all four of them as songwriters. knocked it out of the park, so... yeah it's their Masterpiece for me. Queen II is very special, Sheer Heart Attack is a personal favourite, A Day At The Races, musically and soundwise, is AT LEAST as good as Night At The Opera (my favourite Queen song is Millionaire Waltz), but the impact just wasn't as great.
    I've always looked at it as they kinda knew, when Night At The Opera and its singles were received like they were, that they'd achieved what they'd first set out to do.
    The obvious thing to do was "do it again". And I do feel they did it better on the next album. Years later, I prefer listening to Day At The Races.
    But I suspect trying to do another like that turned out to be not as satisfying, and I don't recall it repeating the burst of recognition they'd had (I was still young, not a dedicated music fan).
    So they realised they had to evolve if they wanted to keep having hits - and they still wanted hits - and they were able to do it successfully.
    But nothing ever quite had the "complete package" impact like Night At The Opera.

    Looking at them purely as sets of music, listening now 45 years later, I might come up with a different answer. But these were ALBUMS released by a pop act. They were created as two sides both with a definite start and finish. They were carefully (or not so carefully) packaged in covers with imagery. They were released and had an impact (or not). An album is the sum of all that, including the "impact" - what it did to us.

    From that perspective, I have to call Night At The Opera their masterpiece. It doesn't matter that I may have listened to it too often or got fed up with hearing some of it. Depending on mood, I might hold others as favourites (II, Sheer, News, or The Works), but this one has to be the Queen masterpiece for me, I can't argue with it.
  15. Juggsnelson

    Juggsnelson Senior Member

    Long Island
    I voted very very good....and Queen are my favorite band. I just cannot get into Good Company at all. Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon, Seaside Rendezvous and I'm In Love With My Car are enjoyable but slight. I love Death on Two Legs, Prophet's Song and Sweet Lady. The two big hits are both great. '39 and Love of My Life are both good. As far as albums go I think I enjoy Queen 2 and A Day at the Races more. The Game is no slouch either.
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  16. ChoonyFish

    ChoonyFish Forum Resident

    Manchester, UK
    No. Musically, they are still rock tracks. Not old time music-hall whimsy.

    Exactly. Couldn't have put it better myself.
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  17. Ernold

    Ernold Look up the number

    I will always maintain that Opera's reputation is based primarily on Bo Rhap.

    The rest of the album does not in any way exceed, develop or improve upon things they had already done on Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack. Deacon's writing was improving, but that's about it.

    That's why I will always say that Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack are more interesting albums.

    I also prefer Races, which may be my favourite of all their albums, but I can see why others do not.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2020
  18. Sordel

    Sordel Forum Resident

    There are no skippers on the album for me but I'll grant you that “God Save The Queen” is superfluous and “Sweet Lady” is probably the weakest of the songs. “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon” and “‘39” are both 5/5 classics in my book, but you could argue that “Lazing” is only so utterly great because of the way that it fits with the songs on either side of it. In fact the programming of the album is one of its biggest strengths.
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  19. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Essex, UK
    A lot of people seem to love Day at the Races, but for me it was a disappointment. It was the first time they didn't move on. It's a standing still album, a mirror image to Night at the Opera. Some of the tunes are good, but as an album it feels like a rerun.
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  20. Ernold

    Ernold Look up the number

    You see, I'd argue that they didn't "move on" with Opera...

    This narrative that Races simply repeats Opera gets thrown about all the time, but it doesn't hold up as well as people think, and again, you could very easily say that much of Opera is a rerun of things they had already done on Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack.

    In fact, even Bo Rhap itself is very much along the lines of The March of the Black Queen, and so on. A Night at the Opera was not a huge step forward, artistically, and it is simply its general myth that makes people claim otherwise.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2020
  21. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

    Ottawa, Canada
    That's definitely one of my fav Queen songs on any album. :cheers:
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  22. Ernold

    Ernold Look up the number

    There is nothing wrong with it, and I like it in many ways, but I'd sooner have both Tenement Funster and Drowse.
  23. Zach Johnson

    Zach Johnson Forum Resident

    Toronto, Ontario
    The cover is a mirror image, but I don't feel like the music is. There's no song on A Day at the Races that directly reminds me (or sounds like a copy) of something from A Night at the Opera. Plus, a song like 'Somebody to Love' is quite unlike anything they'd done before, with its gospel feel. If they hadn't gone with that cover and another Marx Bros. title, I believe there would be far fewer comparisons between the two.
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  24. mbd40

    mbd40 Steely Dan Fan

    Hope, Ar

    Sweet Lady sucks, but the rest is top notch Queen. Death On Two Legs, Bohemian Rhapsody, You're My Best Friend, Prophet's Song, 39, Love of My Life, the little ditties such as Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon that are throwbacks to the 1920s. Great album. I even like I'm In Love With My Car.
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  25. Ernold

    Ernold Look up the number

    Exactly correct. Well said.
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