A Day At The Races
A Night At The Opera was a difficult act to follow, and Queen returned with the more direct and less ambitious A Day At The Races. Queen haven’t lost any of their grandeur, but the effect is less unified than previous; the gap between Mercury’s ballads and May’s rock songs is far more pronounced than on its predecessor.
If anything, it’s Mercury who drags the album down; the ballads like ‘Take My Breath Away’ and ‘Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy’ seem more forced and lack the natural charm and vigour of songs like ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ and ‘Death On Two Legs’. While it has some brilliant songs, A Day At The Races was Queen’s least entertaining record yet; too many of the songs are languid, and ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ is the only convincing rocker.
It’s May who provides the backbone to the record; the hard rock of ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ gets the album off to an memorable start, while his vocal on ‘Long Away’ is more emotionally convincing than any of Mercury’s songs. ‘White Man’ isn’t Queen’s best song, but it provides a much needed dose of energy mid-record, while ‘Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)’ provides a suitably grand climax, with half of the lyrics in Japanese. His jaunty solos often provide a much needed spark to the less interesting pieces like ‘The Millionaire Waltz’ and ‘Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy’. Mercury does provide the album’s centerpiece, the showstopping gospel of ‘Somebody To Love’, one of the few times on the album where the full group harmonies are utilised.
Following the vividness of A Night At The Opera, A Day At The Races is often dull and languid. It captures a group still at the peak of their powers, but it’s just not as exciting and as engrossing as its predecessor.