Recently an old friend of mine from high school had a rant on Facebook about how he hears to much Journey and Queen in the media these days, especially on the radio and in television ads. He went on about the commercialization of Queen songs, Bohemian Rhapsody in particular, and about how they, “sucked back then, and 30 years later they still suck”. It was the type of post that got a lot of responses, both positive and negative. So, I thought in his honor I’d submit as this Week’s Runner, Queen’s 1975 landmark album A Night at the Opera, and yes it is the album that contains their avant-garde hit single Bohemian Rhapsody.
This record reiterates my speculation that the “album” is a lost art form. The single, Bohemian Rhapsody, when taken out of context from the rest of the record becomes a joke in Wayne’s World, or on YouTube when sung by a drunk guy in the back of a police car. But, when heard here as the final cut on side two of this album, it fits like a glove, and makes perfect sense.
In the 70’s, Queen was well known as the “Zeppelin” of the Glam Rock movement, combining heavy, Heavy Metal with outrageous over the top dress, theatrics and highly harmonized sound scapes. Today, with the emergence of shows like Glee and Smash, and the popularity of movies like Moulin Rouge, Fame and Chicago, it isn’t any surprise that this band (Queen) would come back in style (if in fact it ever went out). They were pioneers blending ostentatious theatrics, beautifully ornate music and hard rock to create videos and a “Killer Queen” live stage act.
A Night at the Opera is a concept album very much like Sgt. Pepper was 10 years earlier. With layer upon layer of guitar and vocal tracks this vaudevillian exposé is a tribute to the burlesque of the 20’s and 30’s, friendships, love, and of coarse sex, and tragedy. All neatly tied together on two sides of vinyl in the album format. When I listen to it, I wish it were a double LP because it is so finely crafted, well written and preformed. I wish it would go on forever. I highly recommend this one from start to finish.