My love of Queen began in 1991, when, in the aftermath of Tottenham Hotspur’s FA cup final victory against Nottingham Forest, I ran around the house singing We Are The Champions at the top of my voice. In fact, my first real musical experience also came via the same band, when later that year, I sat in my bedroom, listening to Queen’s Greatest Hits on a cassette my Dad had copied from the CD (in 1991, CD players cost about 3 years’ wages, and, being a clumsy child, I was banned from using it).
For some reason, as I’ve got into music more and more over the years, I’ve turned my back on Queen. This year, in the 41st week of my pledge to listen to and review albums I’ve never previously heard, I thought it was high time I revisited this great band. And what better place to do it than their most highly rated album A Night At The Opera?
This album sees Queen at an extremely experimental stage of their career, and, as a result, it’s a mixed bag. There is little consistency here, and although the variation in styles and instruments has to be admired, it’s a hard album to listen to and enjoy in its entirety due to the tediously lengthy The Prophet’s Song, and throwaway I’m In Love With My Car.
Perhaps it’s a case of too many songwriters spoiling the broth, for the individual compositions by Mercury, May, Deacon, and Taylor don’t sit well with one another and prevent the album from having any cohesion.
Undeniably, it’s Mercury who steals the show with the album’s standout tracks Bohemian Rhapsody and Love Of My Life, and although the former has been overplayed and overhyped, its opening section is still one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever committed to record.
5 albums in 3 years may explain why all the songs aren’t as strong as they might be, but this album is still worth a listen, if only for Mercury’s spectacular vocal performances.