1976 was a magical time, Gerald Ford was in the White House, the greatest ever underdog story,Rocky, had us flocking to the cinema and the regrettable disco era was still (sadly) in full flight. But all was not lost, because in the haze of platform shoes and jumpsuits shone a beacon of rock and roll sensibility: Queen –A Day at the Races. Like its predecessor, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races took its name from a slapstick-filled Marx Brothers movie, but this 10 track offering was anything but nonsense.
If there is a failing of this album, it is that it feels somewhat two paced, with cracking songs likeGood Old Fashioned Lover Boy and Tie Your Mother Down overshadowing seemingly lesser album tracks likeWhite Man and You and I. The old Doctors cliché of “Take two of these, and call me in the morning” applies strongly here, with neitherOpera or Races being stand out rippers on their own, but paired up, you are given a stark reminder of why Queen are still globally loved despite the fact that we lost Freddy almost a quarter of a century ago.
In the studio, Freddie loved the feel of the overdub - heck on Bohemian Rhapsody, the guys had to endure 180 of them. So when it came toA Day At The Races, he was at it again on his personal favourite (and the best track),Somebody To Love. A truly amazing piece where the band sang like a gospel choir, and just layered the voices on top of one another for maximum effect.
Revisiting Queen, it’s no wonder they were such a successful rock act. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who comes near the on stage theatrics or vocals of Freddie Mercury these days (though Adam Lambert’s recent efforts were commendable),Brian May deserves to be in the realm of any of the lauded rock guitarists of our time, and Roger Taylor could hold his own as drummer in any rock band. Apologies to John Deacon but then, no one ever remembers the bass player!
In the wash up, this was another highly listenable Queen album that had a little something for everyone. Even if you weren’t an ardent Queen fan.