A Night At The Opera – Queen

Released November 21, 1975 this is Queen’s fourth studio album and the most expensive ever recorded at the time. It is a concept album that mixes varying musical styles such as dixie land, hard rock, progressive, music hall, and ballads. It was their first album to go Platinum in the U.S. and gave them their first UK #1 single with “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Jason: What is your history with Queen?

Brad: Well, I’ve always liked them since I was a little-

Jason: -’cause I’ll tell you mine. I have never been a fan. Some songs are okay but overall I never loved them.

Brad: I know you don’t like them because over the past 21 years together you grumble every time I try to play them. To the point that I don’t play them while you’re around.

Jason: Ha. Okay let me tell you something. My dad likes Queen and would play the greatest hits (or some compilation) a lot in the car. Therefor I was a captive audience and my least favorite Queen song ever is on this album. You know what it is…

Brad: “You’re My Best Friend”…which is one of my favorites

Jason: Yes, it makes my skin crawl. It’s so cheesy and dumb. It’s like a Randy Newman song, who I also can’t stand.

Brad: Every time I’ve ever played that song you can’t help but tell me how much you hate it.

Jason: What I am hearing here is that you know and I never need to mention it again. I think that is fair.

Brad: Yes. You never need to say it again. I get it.

Jason: Part of my charm is my tenacity and complete unwillingness to let things go or let people forget my opinion.

Brad: “Charm”.

Jason: Now let’s talk about what we liked about this album because I didn’t outright hate it.

Brad: I’ve always loved most of this album. I think the blending of genres is incredible and really gutsy. This album could have been a huge flop but it is a brilliant success

Jason: It is really audacious to say “We are making an album with dixieland, symphonic suites, jazz, hard rock, and a callback to 1920s flapper music. Oh and an operetta.” And it works. Mercury was a musical genius for sure.

Brad: Yes. I’m so glad to see Freddie & Queen’s music get a new life on the music charts after the success of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie. Freddie deserves to be remembered. Such a legendary talent.

Jason: They had a resurgence thanks to the Wayne’s World in 1992 movie and now 25 years later they are back on the charts again. And thanks to that movie we all (think we) know the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Brad: The biggest thing I noticed while listening to this album at least 10 times over the past couple weeks is that it sounds so good. I don’t know anything about recording music or sound engineering but this album sounds as if it could have been recorded today. 

Jason: Yes, the engineering was good. It was the most expensive album at the time and and I guess it paid off. You said that you have always loved most of the album, what do you like and not like about it?

Brad: The song that I’ve always somewhat disliked is “I’m In Love With My Car”. In fact, I will go as far as saying that I hated that song until recently. It is so cheesy and over the top but not in a way that I like. It almost seems like a joke. But my feelings for that song have evolved a bit. I don’t mind it when I listen to it now. It almost makes me smile. 

Jason: It’s a weird song for sure  but it kind of works as a hard rock anthem. The worst song is “The Prophet’s Song”. It’s complete garbage. They just harmonize “Now I know! Now I Know! Now I know! Now I Know!” for like 5 minutes. And it’s over 8 minutes long. WHY?!

Brad: I like that song although I could use a couple less “Now I know”s. But it is funny that every time I’ve listened to this album in anticipation of this discussion, I think “Jason will hate this song”.

Jason: You know me so well. Coming into this I only knew two songs the aforementioned “Best Friend” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Brad: I’m not surprised. “Love of My Life” is such a beautiful song. It gives me chills. I also love Brian May’s “’39”. It sounds like it could be a cover of an early folk song.

Jason: “’39” is pretty good, I agree. I am surprised that isn’t covered more often. Good for Queen for experimenting with new sounds and genres. 

Brad: I had no idea until this week that “’39” tells a very sci-fi story about a group of explorers who go on a year-long mission and then return to find that 100 years has passed.

Jason: It is? They are clever to bury unique and strange lyrics and meanings into songs that don’t necessarily convey that on the surface. I also learned that in the odd “Seaside Rendezvous” at :51 into the song the jazz breakdown was made entirely by May’s and Mercury’s mouths. Not real instruments. They just mimicked, tubas, kazoos, oboes etc.

Brad: I just read that too! Thank you Wikipedia.

Jason: Yes, everyone donate to Wikimedia to keep Wikipedia up and running so we can keep getting interesting and questionable facts.

Brad: This is another album that I really need to get on vinyl so I can play while you’re not around. 

Jason: I approve of this (the playing it when I am not around part.) So what grade will you give A Night At The Opera?

Brad: I give it an A-. I really enjoyed re-listening to this one. I’m mentally preparing for your grade.

Jason: I am between a D+ and a C- and here is why. It’s not for me. I don’t like Queen never have, never will save for a handful of catchy songs none of which are on this album. But also I really, sincerely appreciate the musical genius of them and Freddie and the pure gumption they had to make this magnum opus. So…. I’ll go with a C-. Yay for them but I never want to listen to this again. Am I still your best friend?

Brad: I have no further comments.

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