Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Lester's Album Discussion Thread - A Day At The Races

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Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 02 Dec 05, 12:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I decided to skip A Night At The Opera, just because I'm crazy like that and because I really want to talk about my favorite album.



1. If you don't own the album, do not contribute. I want this to be a discussion, and posts by somebody saying only "I like 'Keep Yourself Alive' on Classic Queen, is that on this album?" or something to that nature contributes nothing to the discussion.

2. As most people have been quick to jump down the throats of foreign posters about their English, I can only ask that those not familiar with the language do their best. For those who speak English as their first language, there really is no excuse. Try to formulate your thoughts so that everyone can enjoy them. No speaking in tongues, please.

3. You don't need to like the album - these aren't appreciation threads, these are discussion threads. If you don't like the album, don't be afraid to say so! Everyone should be responsive to constructive criticism, so if the album isn't one of your favorites, explain why in a decent manner instead of just saying, "This album sucks because of X song."

3a. Disagreements are encouraged. Well, okay... not exactly encouraged, but don't be afraid to disagree with someone as long as you disagree in a dignified manner.

BAD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "WHAT?! 'THE KISS' IS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST SONG RELEASED BY QUEEN! YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT, YOU JACKASS! ANYONE WHO LIKES 'THE KISS' LIKES BOILS ON THEIR FACE AND BEING TORTURED BY TOADS BITING THEIR FINGERNAILS! A POX ON YOUR FAMILY AND ANYTHING YOU SHOULD SPAWN, YOU HEATHEN!"
Poster A: "..."

GOOD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "It's not that great, in my opinion, but what do you like about it?"
Poster A: "I like the segue from 'Execution Of Flash' and the orchestration. Freddie's vocalisations are just great."
Poster B: "Hmm. That's exactly what I don't like about it."

*Posters A and B share a beer and become best friends*

4. No numerical ratings, please. Discussion threads do not equal giving something a grade. If this was called "Let's rate the albums", that would be different, but I want people to discuss the albums. There's no point in listing your favorite songs without giving some kind of insight.

5. These will be posted whenever I damn well please. I know I initially said every two weeks, but sometimes inspiration strikes and you gotta post, man. Or sometimes I get so damn busy, I'll just forget about it and all that.

6. For other discussion threads, check out:
Queen (first album): http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=569759
Queen II: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=587802
Brian May's solo albums: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=575007
Sheer Heart Attack: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=648592


Let's get crackalackin'.

Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 02 Dec 05, 13:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

As I said above, A Day At The Races is undoubtedly my favorite album, tied with Queen II. I can't decide which I like better, so I won't, but I find that every song on Races is perfect. It's almost like they honed their songwriting talents into creating forty minutes of absolute perfection, and the whole of the album is really aural sex. Every moment of it still sounds fresh and unique, even twenty-nine years after it was first conceived, yet has unfortunately been seen as the bastard stepchild, overshadowed by A Night At The Opera, 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and News Of The World.

I must say that there is not a weak track on here. Even the oft-maligned 'White Man' I find to be absolutely dynamic, and I feel that this was the last real album of classic Queen, before they became a stadium rock band. There have been comparisons to its predecessor, and while I can hear hints of A Night At The Opera in the songs, I think the band consciously went out of their way to make an album that wasn't anything like Opera. 'Millionaire Waltz' is the obvious follow-up to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (not 'Somebody To Love' as most have suggested, though the band are trying a new genre of music with gospel), and, apart from the production techniques, that's about the only comparison I can think of.

'You And I' is a great pop song, stronger in every way to 'You're My Best Friend', while 'Drowse' picks up where 'Tenement Funster' left off, and is really one of Roger's most clever and well-written set of lyrics. Brian delivers the goods for his songs, turning in the rollicking 'Tie Your Mother Down', the lugubrious 'White Man', the sublime 'Long Away', and the spectacular (and emotional) 'Teo Torriate'. Freddie seems to prefer taking a backseat to the other songwriters within the group, though his contributions are still strong: 'You Take My Breath Away' is almost the cousin to 'Love Of My Life', except with a more stripped back arrangement yet with just as many multitracks; 'Somebody To Love', then an unrealized classic with nobody knowing just how great of a live track it would become; 'The Millionaire Waltz', of course; and 'Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy' with its throwback to the music hall / Vaudeville style that Freddie loves so much, becoming the last song in this vein that he would write until 'I'm Going Slightly Mad' nearly fourteen years later.

As songwriters and arrangers, the band have matured greatly, and this album is a joy from start to finish, bookended by Brian's impressive M.C. Escher-inspired guitar orchestrations. The only thing that lets down the album was its choice of singles: 'Somebody To Love' was the perfect and most obvious choice, but 'Tie Your Mother Down' was far too raucous for the hit parade. Instead, 'You And I' should have been released, and it would have been a very big hit, no doubt. 'Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy', while a modest single hit for the band in the summer of '77, should have remained an album track; it wasn't necessary to release three singles.

Regardless, it doesn't mar this terrific album, as it's not meant to be listened to as a collection of singles, but should be listened to, like most of Queen's early albums, as a collective whole. In a way, I'm glad they didn't continue making records like this, as there's no way they could come close to topping this album.

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Posted: 02 Dec 05, 17:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

TYMD, though fantastic at live venues, should not have been a single. However I don't think that You And I would have been more popular than the aforementioned track. A lot of John's songs, for some reason, are heavily underrated by the critics.

I personally do not see a connection between Tenement Funster and Drowse, though. It's very interesting that you say the albums are connected, but I fail to see it. With each album it seems like they grow up and release more of their potential. It's a shame that they seemed to stop doing extravagent (sp?) subtleties in their tracks. I sometimes feel like this is the last album where their "all or nothing" policy was in effect. If you listen to this album on headphones, you're going to hear some really amazing work. Headphones on later albums like The Game or A Kind Of Magic don't have that quality anymore, IMO.

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Posted: 02 Dec 05, 17:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I should have clarified, I suppose, regarding 'Tenement Funster' and 'Drowse'. What I meant was that lyrically they're more mature than some of his other things, but I wouldn't call 'Drowse' a cousin to 'I'm In Love With My Car'. While 'Car' is an excellent song to begin with, it's a bit overrated in my opinion, and doesn't hold a candle to 'Drowse'. So I suppose with the more melancholy, lyrically mature side of things, 'Drowse' is more like 'Tenement Funster', while 'Car' is one three minute sex joke of double entendres.

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Posted: 02 Dec 05, 17:48 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"I must say that there is not a weak track on here."

Nothing to add! Only one Queen album without weak tracks, fillers, or something from fan lists of "worst Queen track ever", not any track to skip like we're doing with some on NATO or Innuendo (which both are supposed to be highlights of Queen music).

Fantastic bass work of John in The Millionaire Waltz, intro/outro adds a special mood to the whole album, etc. etc. etc.

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Posted: 17 Dec 05, 06:48 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't personally think that A Day At The Races is a great Queen album. I still think it's strong but in some areas, they get a little airy-fairy. Whilst ANATO was also over-the top there were four hard rock songs; Death On Two legs, I'm In Love With my Car, Sweet lady and the Prophet's Song, ADATR has only two, Tie Your Mother Down and White Man. I like Queen's variety but I do prefer the heavier albums.

I will go through it song by song;
Tie Your Mother Down- a great opener,, and it sounds even better live- just the kind of hard rock that we don't see enough of on this album.

You Take My Breath Away- A wonderful ballad, and in my view superior to Love Of My Life because of the stripped down arrangements and beautiful backing harmony vocals that finish the lead's words. So sad but beautiful.

Long Away- I'm sorry but this is very flat. Why did Brian seem to think that she should do these folk songs? The only ones I like are 39 and maybe leaving Home Ain't Easy. It's ordinary and uninspired.

Millionaire Waltz- Now I like this but it doesn't compare to March of The Black Queen. Still the arrangements are sublime and the guitar orchestration is great so yes I love it.

You And I- Again, It's flat for me. It tries to rock a bit but it's nothing more than a nice MOR pop/rock song. Tha tin itself isn't a problem for Queen's variety is good, but when the others aren't writing rock songs either it shows up.

Somebody To Love- I love this song. The harmony vocals are superb and it's very uplifting as gospel should be. I think it works even better live and for me is the highlight of Queen live at Milton Keynes.

White Man- Very political but that aside I think it's strong; heavier than Tie Your Mother Down, it has a great chorus and some of the guitar work is a signpost for Fat Bottomed Girls.

Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy- Superb vaudeville song. Clever, neatly executed arrangments just like Killer Queen in that respect. The melody is seamless in the transitions from section to section. Again the harmony vocals are magnificent particualrly when counting the time at the Ritz.

Drowse- Not Roger's best but has its reedeeming features. I like the slide guitar and his voice sounds good but it doesn't quite take off and it lacks a chorus, which I feel this song needs.

Teo Torriate- A story of two halves. The verses are simply the best I've heard in any Queen song with that gorgeous Harmonium Piano by Brian but the children's choir effect is a little off-putting ad the transition into the chorus is a trifle clumsy.

I think their next two albums are better but compared to The Game and Hot Space et al, it is great.


hj
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Posted: 17 Dec 05, 15:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Man,dude yall all talk like musical scientists,I'm almost afraid to say anything,but I do know the album like the back of my hand.Love all the songs about the same,I don't see how you can say Drowse is not as good as I"m in love with my car,or not as good as tenement funster;There all perfect! Your my best friend is not as good as spread your wings,or misfire lacked anything.


Mad.the.Swine
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Posted: 17 Dec 05, 23:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ditto on the music scientist part. I am one of Queens younger fans and am slowly trying to learn on arrangements etc.
But i agree ADATR is a fantastic Queen Album. I never want to skip a track.
The song writing is superb and inspires me to write my own quite often.
Theres not a day that goes by where im not singing with every ounce of my being, SBTL.
I love the awesome mix of power-filled jams such as TYMD and WM. But i love the more subtle tracks such as YAI and LA. Along with the more real-life associated tracks such as Drowse, which many people could relate to with the such a mid life crisis, or a funk where day to day seems the same.
However, i cannot pick a favorite queen album as of yet because i do not have them all.
But i have to agree, ADATR is among the best.

And many of Johns smaller hits are rather underrated, as were some of Rogers.

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Posted: 18 Dec 05, 16:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

My favorite line from the song Drowse is "Never wanted to be the boy next door I always thought I'd be something more , but it ain't easy for a small town boy, you knom,it ain't easy at all. and the part where he says you know, is that him or the music? I have found Somebody to love A hard song to sing when the c.d.s not playing been trying to do that for 30 years now.And dude if you think that giving Drowse a chorus might improve the song'Then you kida just said that you know a little more than Roger Taylor,a member of the best rock group to walk the face of the earth,Have you heard his latest c.d. Happiness? All the songs are bad ass,sorry you made me curse, Ithink most songs have a chourus in them,but if not let me know what improvements you could make on them.What band are you in maybe I've been listening to the wrong group for the last 32 years! No offense intended just havin fun!!!!!!!!


Mad.the.Swine
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Posted: 18 Dec 05, 16:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Can anyone tell me the best place in America to search for Roger Taylor Cd's???
I cant find them in a damn store anywhere!

But i like DROWSE, i like it as is, its telling a story and i think a chorus might interrupt it a bit. But if it was a good one than perhaps not.
But i like it as is, sometimes the choruses just dont come as natural as the rest of the song.

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Posted: 18 Dec 05, 16:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think that while NATO was the album when everyone realised Queen had made it, Races was the one where they realised it and celebrated. Four musicians at the top of their game and proud of what they could achieve.

Starting with a (reversed) guitar extravaganza almost exactly where Nato left off with GSTQ. Brian proves that he was way ahead of his peers when it came to orchestrations.

Tie Your Mother Down- A Traditional Queen Rocker, almost as if to say here's the one you expect let's get it out of the way at the start and we'll show you what else we can do. But what a rocker it is. And slide guitar too.

You Take My Breath Away- This is the track I really want to hear in 5.1, Forget LOML this is the love song - or should that be stalker song - of all time.

Long Away- The appearance of the Burns 12 string alone justifies the inclusion of this song but it's the long lost sister of Someday one day.

Millionaire Waltz- Someone should play this to every producer just to prove that Bass isn't a nondirectional instrument. Use the pan pots and you'll really get people to sit up and listen. A full on proper waltz even my mum listened to this

You And I- It's a nice song, Freddie might wear his heart on his sleeve with YTMBA but John's proving that the quiet ones can still write classic love songs. This is up there with "My girl" for understated romance. Though he's In love there is a sense that he's putting off a return to reality , "time don't mean a thing when you're by my side please stay a while", "will we be together forever, what will be my love can't you see that I just don't know"

Somebody To Love- If they threw everything but the kitchen sink into NATO then here's where that was thrown in . A massive song, Multitracked vocals, a Guitar solo to die for and it translates so well across to the live show

White Man- Who said Queen and politics don't mix. An out and out criticism of the white man's role in destroying the Native American way of life. The musical forerunner of FBG with the Drop D tuning but it has a life of it's own. A wall of noise with the AC30's just about under control.

Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy- Neatly combines Seaside Rendezvous and Lazing on a Sunday afternoon's Music Hall roots into a slick, well honed pop ballad. Guitar solo uses the bell effect and is the son of Killer queen in that respect.

Drowse- One of my personal favourites just because it sums up that can't be arsed feel of a sunny sunday afternoon. Have a couple of drinks and chewing the fat with some buddies. Reminiscing about what might have been. looking back to a time when life "wasn't too hard". The slide work washes over you like waves at the beach.

Teo Torriate- This really has it all, Melody, harmony, passion and fire, The lyrics echo the theme of You and I with a plea for love to carry on into the future. Though this time it's filled with insecurity about love lasting while the partners are separated. Maybe prophetic to realise that John's relationship outlasted the separations while Brian's mariage to Chrissie didn't.


"amateurs practice till they get it right, professionals practice till they can't get it wrong"
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Posted: 19 Dec 05, 01:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Asterik wrote:

Millionaire Waltz- Now I like this but it doesn't compare to March of The Black Queen. Still the arrangements are sublime and the guitar orchestration is great so yes I love it.


Asterik, I think you're comparing two entirely different tracks, mate. MOTBQ could be compared to the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody or My Fairy King - but it's not even in the same category as TMW.

'Millionaire' could easily be compared to My Melancholy Blues. Both tracks are Freddie's sort of Ritzy, classy pieces. MOTBQ Is operatic and dripping with vocal harmonies and small quirks and full of fantasy.

I could say that since I like Queen II a lot, Black Queen is more brilliant. But then, ADATR comes in an extremely close second, so I could just as easily say Waltz is better. But I think that both tracks are beyond brilliant in their own categories.

Sorry if this was off-topic, I just felt the need to say something.

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Posted: 19 Dec 05, 10:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm glad this thread has had a resurrection of sorts - it appears that very few people are interested in this anymore.

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Posted: 19 Dec 05, 15:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well, I really love this album. But to be my favourite Queen record, it had to have more TOP songs. It's true that there's no weak song on the album and a lot of superb tracks – I like TYMD and STL most for being such pure songs of their kind – but it misses the one that sends shivers down my spine. STL comes nearest to the likes of BoRhap, Don't Stop Me Now or March Of The Black Queen, but just near.
Another point that keeps it from being my No. 1 is that it has less variety – of course, only in comparison to albums like NOTW, ANATO or Jazz. It's never boring but when I heard it the first time (I knew NOTW, Jazz, ANATO and SHA then) it wasn't too surprising.
So for me it's a close follower of NOTW and QII, tied with ANATO and closely followed by Jazz and Game.


... I'll be back again before it's time for sunny-down ...
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Posted: 19 Dec 05, 20:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Lester Burnham wrote:

I'm glad this thread has had a resurrection of sorts - it appears that very few people are interested in this anymore.


Well i like these threads. Keep em coming Lester!
I dont have all queen albums yet, but im building alot, ive only got some left to complete my collection!
I love these, so keep em alive for those of us who love em!

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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 11:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Zander05 wrote:

Asterik wrote:

Millionaire Waltz- Now I like this but it doesn't compare to March of The Black Queen. Still the arrangements are sublime and the guitar orchestration is great so yes I love it.


Asterik, I think you're comparing two entirely different tracks, mate. MOTBQ could be compared to the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody or My Fairy King - but it's not even in the same category as TMW.

'Millionaire' could easily be compared to My Melancholy Blues. Both tracks are Freddie's sort of Ritzy, classy pieces. MOTBQ Is operatic and dripping with vocal harmonies and small quirks and full of fantasy.

I could say that since I like Queen II a lot, Black Queen is more brilliant. But then, ADATR comes in an extremely close second, so I could just as easily say Waltz is better. But I think that both tracks are beyond brilliant in their own categories.

Sorry if this was off-topic, I just felt the need to say something.


I completely disagree with you. There is no way you can compare MW and MMB- the stuff that Fred puts into it is remarkable; there are lots of multi-tracked harmonies on MW whilst MMB is very simple and spontaneous; Freddie slumped over a piano capturing his feelings. Millionaire Waltz has several sections to it just like BR and MOTB and like them draws on orchestral music as an influence for the sound. There is a multi-tracked guitar solo again sounding like a cello or something. MW is full of fantasy and has small quirks in the arrangments. There is also a heavy rock part that is oddly reminiscent of BR so yes, in my view it is worth comparing and it doesn't stand up for me. I have no idea how you could possibly compare it with Melancholy Blues when it is a guitar, multi-track free piece of midnight lounge jazz. I'm sorry but it isn't on.


hj
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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 12:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree with Asterik- it is structuraly similar to BoRhap and TMOTBQ- and def not MMB. But I disagree that it doesn't stand up. It's pretty much on the same level as those two compositions IMO. Wanderfully over the top...

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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 16:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I wasn't saying anything based on the structure of the song (though Asterik is quite right), I was talking more in terms of genre (or style, if you will) of music.

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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 16:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

My Melancholy Blues is 4 in the morning lounge music. Could easily see this being played by a piano player to close any bar. Millionaire Waltz is the polar opposite of that, fun, frenetic and heavily orchestrated. I see about as much resemblance between MMB and MW as I do MW and Body Language.


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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 16:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

BHM 0271 wrote:

My Melancholy Blues is 4 in the morning lounge music. Could easily see this being played by a piano player to close any bar. Millionaire Waltz is the polar opposite of that, fun, frenetic and heavily orchestrated. I see about as much resemblance between MMB and MW as I do MW and Body Language.


Ditto.
IMO all of the aforementioned songs can stand up very well on their own, each may have queenesque similarities, as all bands have some signature thing, however, they're all unique in a certain way.