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Album Talk: Queen’s A Night At The Opera

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The then-most expensive rock album.

It has sold over six million copies worldwide till date.

In 2018, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Certainly an album fit for a Queen, just that the Queen here happens to be a rock band.

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon formed Queen and in 1975 released what is regarded as one of the finest rock albums of all time, A Night At The Opera. The album broke Queen to a wider audience around the world and established them as true rock superstars. To this day, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ remains one of the best-selling singles in world.

To discuss this fantastic album, fellow cowboy and musipedia Narendra Kusnur and I invited our friend and artist Carlton Braganza for this week’s Album Talk.

Note: Language may be altered to suit the platform’s requirements.

queen

Me: I feel all the 4 were at their artistic peak while recording this album. It draws a lot of comparison with The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album. What do you guys think about that?

Carlton: I think it’s an insane album but it can’t be compared with Sgt. Pepper’s. ‘A Night At The Opera’ is a very centre album where they have taken risks on so many counts and its far away from the path that is mainstream and was sellable at the time. The album has varied styles of music like honky tonk, classical, ballads, hard rock, pop. It was a make or break album for Queen as they were on the brink of bankruptcy due to bad record label deals. Their previous album, Sheer Heart Attack, was a success but they were still penniless. If this album didn’t work they would have gone into oblivion.

Me: And probably renamed themselves ‘Dire Straits 2’.

(INSERT LAUGHTER TRACK)

Kusnur: Dire Straits wasnt born then so they would have been the first Dire Straits.

Me: Oh yeah!

 Listen to ‘Bohemian Rapshody

Carlton: The album is pretty disconnected, no 2 songs are the same. To use one word it is random and at the same time it’s a genius one. Queen managed, in isolation, to create every song which in itself is a masterpiece but when you listen to the full album, you wonder what the hell is going on! That’s fantastic in a way. The song ‘39’ is as far removed from‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which is superb.

Me: The album opens with a very Non-Queen or Freddie song, Death On Two Legs. It is called as Freddie Mercury’s hate letter to Queen’s first manager, Norman Sheffield, who almost got them to the brink of bankruptcy.

Carlton: One can feel Freddie’s anger in the song. There is no direct reference in the song but apparently during live shows, before performing the song Freddie would refer to him as “a real mother****er of a gentleman!”

Kusnur: Even the songs title has the words ‘Dedicated to…’

Carlton: Yes! Even the band seemed against Freddie being so ‘angsty’ in the song but they let him have his way. If you hate somebody, this is the song to dedicate!

Listen to ‘Death On Two Legs

Me: Cowboy, what is your take on the album?

Kusnur: As Carlton said the album has a lot of variety. Brain May has played some amazing riffs especially on ‘Sweet Lady’ and ‘Death On Two Legs’. Personally this is my second favourite Queen album, first being ‘The Works’. In terms of variety ‘A Night At The Opera’ is what I like. I can sing ‘Love Of My Life’ all through my life.

Me: They stopped playing it during their live performances in the 80s for reasons best known to them. It is quite strange as it is a sing along song for the crowd. Then you have ‘I’m in Love with My Car’ by Roger Taylor. It has lyrics like,

‘Told my girl I’d have to forget her
Rather buy me a new carburettor’

I mean what was Taylor thinking while writing this song!

Listen to Love Of My Life

Carlton: My picks would be, obviously, ‘Love Of My Life’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Apart from that it would be ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ which is a very easy going song.

Me: I would pick ‘Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon’.

Carlton: That is also a good song.

Kusnur: They have used a lot of effects on the song.

Me: Doesn’t the entire album have a lot of synth work?

Carlton: Ya it does. The album has an incredible amount of experimental sound.

Me: I feel the album is a mix of the British classic sound meeting Led Zeppelin meeting Jethro Tull. Even some Americana as there is a song where the guitar is made to sound like a ukulele.

Kusnur: That’s ‘Sweet Lady’.

Me: Like every other band these guys fought on a song too, You’re My Best Friend, which John Deacon wrote for his wife. Freddie refused to play the grand piano on it and the rest thought it was too soft. Cowboy your two picks from the album, ‘Love Of My Life’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?

Kusnur: ‘Love Of My Life’ and ‘Sweet Lady’. I have an issue with overplayed songs, so not ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Me: We all do! Carlton how many times have you sung it?

Carlton: Forever and ever and ever!

Which is the classic but overplayed song that you have a problem with?

Until next week, Adios Amigos!!!

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