Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Why is A Night At The Opera so good?

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Biggzy10 user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 01 May 12, 18:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Recently, I did a listen through of the classic album and once again realized how beautifully well done the album is. But I questioned why? Why is this such a damn good album and consider one of Queen's greatest pieces of work? I have my own thoughts but I'm curious as to why you guys think its so well done.

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Posted: 01 May 12, 19:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Because it was their creative peak - a culmination of five years of growth.

They had developed their sound through the last three records. The debut album revealed the building blocks, Queen II saw them bring their grand ideas to life, and Sheer Heart Attack was an attempt to make their ideas shorter and more accessible. But ANATO was the grand statement.

It was stylistically diverse. The first five tracks showcased all four band members as excellent songwriters and three of them as strong vocalists. The arrangements were complex, yet easily digestible.

Bohemian Rhapsody was a game changer. What more can be said about it? It is one of the greatest pieces of music composed in the last fifty years. A brilliantly complex composition, yet completely accessible. A feat rarely accomplished in popular music.

A Night At The Opera revealed Brian May as a composer trapped in a guitarist's body. It was orchestral music arranged for rock band. His dixieland jazz band in Good Company and arrangement of the national anthem revealed him as far more than a mere rock guitarist.

Brian's tour de force was The Prophet's Song. While BoRhap is a cornerstone of popular music, The Prophet's Song is an equally vital contribution to the evolution of rock music. Love Of My Life is by far Mercury's best ballad. Side two alone encompasses every trademark that made Queen who they were.

Every artist has their creative peak. This was Queen's. Some Queen fans will cite other records like Queen II or A Day At The Races as being better records, but it's usually a case of fandom where they'd like the lesser-known records to have more exposure. But the reality is - ANATO is the complete picture.

Never were they more focused, more determined, and more in tune with their craft than the summer and autumn of 1975.

There. What's your take?


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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Posted: 01 May 12, 20:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

That is a superb summation of their genius work.

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Posted: 01 May 12, 20:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think the band, particularly Freddie, felt very proud of the work they had accomplished on the album in a similar way as The Real Wizard. They just felt more focused and more ready to get in the studio and make some magic happen. They were riding the high road after Killer Queen with Sheer Heart Attack became pretty popular and started making Queen's name well-known, and then Bo Rhap was released and Queen looked unstoppable. As TRW said, all four members got some time to shine; Freddie and Brian were as usual the primary songwriters, with Brian singing lead on not one but two songs, but Roger and John were also certainly there. I'm In Love With My Car is probably the best loved song with Roger on lead vocals, and You're My Best Friend really helped boost John's confidence as a songwriter after being inactive on the first to albums and just a short number on SHA. Freddie seemed convinced that ANatO would be their defining moment in statements shortly after it came out, and in many ways it probably was.

However, Wizard, I kind of resent your little comment that people say QII and ADatR are better records because of fandom. As much as I love Opera, I legitimately believe that Queen II is better, and I simply enjoy listening to it a little more than A Night at the Opera; it has nothing to do with wanting to expose more obscure albums. Judging this is obviously very subjective, so no one can be write, so stop pretending that you're write. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just saying this.

Rant over. G'night.


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Posted: 01 May 12, 20:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Does anyone else agree that Queen produce their best work under bad circumstances? Roger Taylor has stated that if ANATO flopped, that the group would have split. The four were all broke and their careers were in a bad spot. The whole bad management thing.

Innuendo, another album that I consider one of Queen's best works, was also under the shadow of Freddie dieing. The question of if their careers would continue was there again.

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Posted: 01 May 12, 21:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Waunakor, when you say "As much as I love Opera, I legitimately believe that Queen II is better, and I simply enjoy listening to it a little more than A Night at the Opera;" you may be right. But, and this is a big but, everyone's personal opinions would trump consensus using that logic. So Adam Lambert's "Look at my Glambulge" album that's hit the streets recently might have fans who "legitimately believe that 'Look at my Glambulge' is better, and I simply enjoy listening to it than Queen II and ANATO combined." Doesn't make it right though. Each group has a consensus "defining" album, for the reasons that The Real Wizard listed. For Queen, it's ANATO. March of the Black Queen may be a better song than Bohemian Rhapsody, but if nobody knows it, it's a great obscure song, much like Queen II is a great obscure album. Great tunes, but they hadn't hit their stride yet.

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Posted: 01 May 12, 21:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

So, you're saying that since Queen fans as a whole pick ANatO, that makes it the most right choice for their "defining" album, or their "best" album? I suppose that's fair enough, although it still doesn't change my opinion that Queen II is better. I was just resenting Wizard's explanation of why fans like me like those more obscure records better. Also, it may not be the most accurate sample, but if you look at the polls on this site, QII beats ANatO by a fair margin.


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Posted: 01 May 12, 21:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No, I'd say "the rock world", whoever they may be, would say ANATO is the defining album. My favourite musician in the world, Nuno Bettencourt, says his fave Queen album is Queen II. I wouldn't argue with him. But again, it's consensus from the world. Maybe Flash Gordon is the greatest sci-fi film ever. Consensus would be Star Wars (not a big movie buff so not saying Star wars or Falsh are sci-fi genre) is better than Flash Gordon. It's like people (including Brain May) saying ANATO was their Sergeant Pepper. Not their Meet the Beatles, or Revolver, because whoever makes consensus has deemed Sgt. Pepper to be the defining Beatles album, right or wrong.

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Posted: 01 May 12, 22:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Good reply imbecile.

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Posted: 02 May 12, 03:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The Real Wizard wrote:
Because it was their creative peak - a culmination of five years of growth.
They had developed their sound through the last three records. The debut album revealed the building blocks, Queen II saw them bring their grand ideas to life, and Sheer Heart Attack was an attempt to make their ideas shorter and more accessible. But ANATO was the grand statement.
It was stylistically diverse. The first five tracks showcased all four band members as excellent songwriters and three of them as strong vocalists. The arrangements were complex, yet easily digestible.
Bohemian Rhapsody was a game changer. What more can be said about it? It is one of the greatest pieces of music composed in the last fifty years. A brilliantly complex composition, yet completely accessible. A feat rarely accomplished in popular music.
A Night At The Opera revealed Brian May as a composer trapped in a guitarist's body. It was orchestral music arranged for rock band. His dixieland jazz band in Good Company and arrangement of the national anthem revealed him as far more than a mere rock guitarist.
Brian's tour de force was The Prophet's Song. While BoRhap is a cornerstone of popular music, The Prophet's Song is an equally vital contribution to the evolution of rock music. Love Of My Life is by far Mercury's best ballad. Side two alone encompasses every trademark that made Queen who they were.
Every artist has their creative peak. This was Queen's. Some Queen fans will cite other records like Queen II or A Day At The Races as being better records, but it's usually a case of fandom where they'd like the lesser-known records to have more exposure. But the reality is - ANATO is the complete picture.
Never were they more focused, more determined, and more in tune with their craft than the summer and autumn of 1975.
There. What's your take?

Agree with almost all of that. A really good summary of why ANATO was their creative peak, and also why it's probably my favourite album -- up there with SHA. However, I disagree about Prophet's Song. I've never read any artists citing it as an inspiration so I don't know how it is adjudged "equally vital contribution to the evolution of rock music" (happy to be proved wrong though). Herecy I know, but I find the vocal interlude to be self indulgent and, at one point in particular, very grating to listen to. A long instrumental section replacing the vocal interlude in Prophet's Song would've made ANATO a perfect album. Well, that, and some cowbell.


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Posted: 02 May 12, 04:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

... because they were testing themselves for A Day At The Races, wich was better ;)
hey, at least to me !!


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Posted: 02 May 12, 06:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I pretty much agree with TRW (most of the times)... although I think "Sheer Heart Attack" is the band's best work (Roger concurs), a real triumph, overcoming many obstacles, working fast, going into their back catalogue, Freddie going overboard...ANATO has something which marks it as a classic..."Fred's Thing" (love how RTB says that in that early take)a.k.a. Bohemian Rhapsody...
moreover, crucially, it's a band giving it their all, with sth to prove to themselves, their old and new management...and it certainly is a solid "british" l.p., with everything from radio-pop to prog-rock, camp songs to sci-fi lyrics...
and the best opening lines of a Queen album (mind you, there is nothing accidental about the phrasing as BM once noted)...
"You suck my ..."

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Posted: 02 May 12, 06:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's ADATR for me. I agree with Holly2003 about The Prophet song too, I loved the track when it first came out, but a bit too self indulgent for me.
I also think YTMBA is a better song than LOML. Drowse and You and I better than the two songs they wrote on Opera too.
As for Sweet Lady, great verses, ruined by a very weak chorus.
Also as ADATR was produced by the band themselves I think that this also makes me believe it is their finest album ever.
My top 5 albums in order are. 1. A Day At The Races. 2. Queen II. 3. Sheer Heart Attack. 4. The Game. 5. A Night At The Opera.


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Posted: 02 May 12, 06:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's ADATR for me. I agree with Holly2003 about The Prophet song too, I loved the track when it first came out, but a bit too self indulgent for me.
I also think YTMBA is a better song than LOML. Drowse and You and I better than the two songs they wrote on Opera too.
As for Sweet Lady, great verses, ruined by a very weak chorus.
Also as ADATR was produced by the band themselves I think that this also makes me believe it is their finest album ever.
My top 5 albums in order are. 1. A Day At The Races. 2. Queen II. 3. Sheer Heart Attack. 4. The Game. 5. A Night At The Opera.


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Posted: 02 May 12, 07:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I still don't agree that ANATO is an exceptionally good album. IMHO, the album as a whole is inferior to both SHA and ADATR - I personally think ANATO is so popular simply because of Bohemian Rhapsody.


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Posted: 02 May 12, 13:16 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Im sorry, but I do not understand how you can have The Game in the top 5 Queen albums. Lyrically and musically it is inferior to many other Queen albums, in my opinion.


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Posted: 02 May 12, 14:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Queen 2 is better.


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Posted: 02 May 12, 14:16 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thanks for that. Very enlightening.


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Posted: 02 May 12, 16:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thomas Quinn wrote:

"I personally think ANATO is so popular simply because of Bohemian Rhapsody."

Could be, but I think the album from a songwriting, production and musicianship POV is the greatest representative of the genius of Queen. Sweet Lady may be hated, but there is more amazing guitar work, and musical personality in the end section than many bands have in their catalogue. The Prophets Song may be indulgent, but lyrically, it has as much meaning or more today ("love is still the answer") than it did 35 years ago. Not to mention the beauty of Love of my Life, the majesty of GSTQ, it goes on and on. For me, it represents everything they were trying to achieve on the first three albums, and got it right on the fourth.

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Posted: 02 May 12, 17:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Even ff Bo Rhap were out of ANATO, it'd still be their top album in my opinion: '39, Good Company, LOML ... basically everything sans the stupid 'cheese' line on SL is absolutely magnificent.

I disagree with Brian being a composer trapped in a guitarist's body: he's both, simple as that; and not only that: he's also a singer, arranger, producer, etc.

ANATO hit the nail on the head in terms of creativity, performance, chemistry, success, timing, diversity, influence, etc. While Freddie was by far the chief force behind that album (in terms of songwriting, production, arrangements and performance), they all had valuable input and they all contributed their best.

A lot of Queen albums have some or many of those features, but IMO none of them has all of them combined (e.g. Queen II has no input from John as songwriter, Races is a bit less creative -IMO- as it's a sequel, etc.).


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.