Album #7: Queen, "A Night at the Opera" (1975)

We have a special place in our heart for our first love.  We never forget those first loves, even though we often outgrow them.  Queen happens to be my first love - when it comes to albums, at least.  Their amazingly awesome "The Game" was one of those loves that I must have listened to over five hundred times through the course of about two years.  I would literally listen to that album twice a day, five days a week, almost without fail. 

But, as I got older, I put it behind me, and as I've become a more mature music listener, I have to admit the album can be kind of hokey.  I outgrew it, and put Queen behind me. 

Then, while talking to a friend in a college history class, I mentioned my old love of queen.  And he mentioned "A Night at the Opera" - and I shamefacedly admitted I had never actually given the whole album a listen.  He pressured me to check it out, so I wound up buying the album and listening to it that very night.

It opens with the unusually-aggressive (For Queen, at least) "Death on Two Legs", a spiteful song dedicated to Queen's former manager (one of the best lines, sung in the usual harmonic chorus that is Queen's trademark:  "Do you feel like suicide?  I think you should.").  And then it goes all over the place.  There are some of the weird, operatic songs that are very playful ("Seaside Rendezvous", "Good Company", "Lazing on a sunday afternoon");  there are the zeppelinesque arena rock tunes that originally put Queen on the map ("Sweet Lady", "I'm in love with my car", "The Prophet's Song"); and then there are lovely ballads ("you're my best friend", which actually outsold "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a single), super pretty songs involving harps ("Love of my Life"), and even the mandatory song about science fiction that makes absolutely no sense ("39").

Oh, yeah.  And its penultimate song is a little ditty called "Bohemian Rhapsody".  You may have heard of it.  Its generally been declared one of the best songs ever written.  It is, as far as I know, the only song to have ever made it to the #1 spot on the records charts in two seperate decades (once when the album was released, and then again when it was featured on Wayne's World). 

Fun fact about Bohemian Rhapsody.  The song was recorded on analog tape, and the band did so many parts for the song dubbed onto the master reel (each time, using up more and more of the spool of tape), that by the time the song was done, guitarist Brian May recalled that the spool (which is supposed to be be brown, sort of like on a cassette tape - you remember those, right?) was nearly transparent.  He figures there are perhaps seventeen guitar parts recorded on that song.  And, lesse here... at least four vocal tracks... and two piano tracks... and a drum track... and a bass track... and... 

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