Hello, TGWTG fans. JotaKa here speaking, actually continuing the series:
LANDMARK ALBUM REVIEWS
The show where one of us can collaborate with another music reviewer to look at an album that defined a group, a type of music or an era and helped inspire the music world.
Today’s Landmark Album is no other than A Night at the Opera by Queen.
Joining me today is Paul Shaffer without the sunglasses and twenty years older, NOTYETUSEDNAME!
JK: Thanks for letting me handle this one, NYUN.
NYUN: LOL! to be fair, Paul Shaffer is actually older than I am, and I’m glad to give you the reins for this review, my friend.
Although with a slow start, Queen really started popping up on the charts with Sheer Heart Attack, their third album. However, after some major sound changes, some pretty clever creative ideas and the biggest budget of his time, A Night at the Opera was born. At that time, Brian May said that if the new album made such little success as the others, Queen probably would’ve been disbanded.
In the UK, this album sky rocketed right into the first place of the charts and staying there for nine weeks. On the US charts, the album stayed in fourth and was the best position for a Queen album at that time. In basically all specialized media, it is considered a must have and is always treated with respect.
So, is this album worth the hype and accolades it gets? Let’s take a listen and find out.
To review this album, we’re going to be looking at 5 criteria: Music, Lyrics, Production Quality, Hooks you can’t get out of your head(in a good way) and overall cohesion of the songs for the whole of the album. Ratings on a scale from 1-blow this record up with a 12 gauge to 10-I want this album with me if I’m stranded on a deserted Island with only 1 choice of what to listen to for the rest of my life(well, OK, maybe not THAT great, but right up there).
Even though pompous and orchestral with the classic band arrangement and with a hell lot of piano, it’s in diversity that this album makes the run for the money: Hard Rock, Country, Progressive, Power Metal, Ballads.
JK: The music of this album pleases me on so many levels as it haves “’39” which is probably the best Queen song ever. Even when they try to ruin melody and music with a bridge on a song that is just they fucking around pretending to use instruments they strive to complete perfection. My Score – 10
NYUN: I love layered phrasing and harmonies taken to the next level, and Queen really delivers on this album. There’s a strong symphonic component that drives this work like an orchestral piece in the opera hall(as was intended, I’m sure). Freddie Mercury’s classical roots really dominate this, and he’s phenomenally good. I also like the variety using different genres within the album. My Score-10
Although Mercury was the main song writer with 6 songs of the whole twelve track album, everyone had a chance to chip in and each one of them had a chance to show what was working for them.
JK: Lyrically, this album also rocks. I mean, you can’t go wrong with classics as “The Prophet’s Song” and “Love of my Life”. Even songs made to look like complete made at the time songs like “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” and “Good Company” has clever lyrics. My Score – 10
NYUN: Lyrically-it’s extremely fun. These words just trill of the tongue and you feel proud you can do ‘em-like learning a complicated tongue twister and then bragging about it. My Score-9
Mike Stone was the recording engineer for this album and to say the most, he was a really liberal engineer, letting Queen do what the hell they want, like singing out of a bucket for “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” and doing a tap dance song with bottle caps. He also worked with Journey and Blue Oyster Cult.
JK: Although impressively well recorded, I got to say that most ideas that sounded farfetched really were at the time, and some effects were so crazy that they sounded bad later on the vinyl. My Score – 8
NYUN: I agree with you on this one. Sometimes experimenting works well, and sometimes it just sounds muddled. My Score-7
HOOKS YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD(IN A GOOD WAY)
What tune always comes to mind when you think Queen? Probably “We Will Rock You” or “We Are The Champions”, that were made after this album, so this album does not have the most earworm songs of all Queen’s career, but most of the songs on this album are ageless classics.
JK: This album is simply wonderful, but I can’t say that it is unforgettable as there are some more unforgettable songs on their repertoire. I mean, obviously I already catch myself going: “Mamma Mia Mamma Mia Mamma Mia Let Me Go! Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me… for me… FOR MEEEEEEE!!!!” but comparing with other earworms of the time and before, this definitely wasn’t the A Night at the Opera’s forte. My Score – 8
NYUN: Well, sure if you line this album up against Queen classics like We are the Champions, Fat Bottomed Girls and We will Rock you, it will come up short. However, In my 20 years experience taking song requests as a piano player, Bohemian Rhapsody is consistently the highest paid, most asked for Queen classic song that is requested. For that, I’m giving this one a 9
OVERALL COHESION OF THE SONGS FOR THE WHOLE OF THE ALBUM
Obviously not a concept album, this album was just a session where the members got together and played their best material in hands: and maybe by the act of god himself, the album flows out quite naturally, although some strange connections here and there.
JK: No, unfortunately, this album doesn’t work for me in one go. Maybe its biggest weakness is that with such a chaotic selection of songs, it doesn’t go with my mood, independent of what my mood could be: I’ll probably never be in the mood for “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” and “I’m in Love With my Car”. My Score – 6
NYUN: Yeah, I’ve got to agree with you here too. The differing feel to many of the songs don’t mesh together very well, and the Album suffers for it. Individually the songs are Brilliant-just not together. My score 5
JK’S FINAL SCORE OF OF A NIGHT AT THE OPERA BY QUEEN- 8.4
NYUN’S FINAL SCORE OF A NIGHT AT THE OPERA BY QUEEN- 7.8
JK: Thanks for doing this with me, NYUN. Always a pleasure.
NYUN: You’re welcome, JK. I love discussing music with you my friend. And thanks to TGWTG fans for giving us some of your time to read, as well. Did you like this album? We’d love to hear your opinions, too. Peace.
JK: Also, this is JotaKa, signing off. Again, suggestions are welcome.