Queen - A Night at the Opera


Queen - A Night at the Opera

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Queen - A Night at the Opera
Queen A Night At The Opera.png
Studio album by Queen
Released 21 November 1975
Recorded August – November 1975
Studio Sarm, Roadhouse, Olympic Studios, Scorpio and Lansdowne, London and Rockfield, Monmouthshire
Genre
  • Progressive rock
  • pop
  • hard rock
  • hard rock
Length 43:10
Label EMI / Parlophone (Europe)
Elektra (1975) / Hollywood (1991) (US)
Producer Roy Thomas Baker, Queen
Queen chronology
Sheer Heart Attack
(1974)
A Night at the Opera
(1975)
A Day at the Races
(1976)
 
Singles from A Night at the Opera
  1. "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Released: 31 October 1975
  2. "You're My Best Friend" / "'39"
    Released: 18 May 1976

 

  "A Night at the Opera" is the fourth studio album by the British rock band Queen, released on 21 November 1975. Co-produced by Roy Thomas Baker and Queen, it was the most expensive album ever recorded at the time of its release. The album takes its name from the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera, which the band watched one night at the studio complex when recording. The album was originally released by EMI Records in the United Kingdom, where it topped the UK Albums Chart for four non-consecutive weeks, and Elektra Records in the United States, where it peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and became the band's first platinum selling album in the US. The worldwide sales for the album are currently over 6 million copies.

"A Night at the Opera" incorporates a wide range of styles, from ballads and songs in a music hall style, to hard rock tracks and progressive rock influences. It also produced the band's most successful single in the UK, "Bohemian Rhapsody", which became their first UK number one and one of the best-selling singles in both the UK and the world.

 

 

Reception and legacy

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars
Pitchfork Media 8.9/10
Pop Matters 9/10
Q (1993) 3/5 stars
Q (2006) 5/5 stars
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars
Uncut 5/5 stars
The Village Voice B–

At the time of its release, A Night at the Opera was the most expensive album ever recorded. Upon release, the album was a commercial success, debuting at No. 1 in the UK and topping the charts for four non-consecutive weeks. In the US, it reached No. 4, the band's strongest showing at that time. In 1977 "Bohemian Rhapsody" received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus and Best Arrangement for Voices.

In a contemporary review, Kris Nicholson of Rolling Stone Magazine said that, although they share other heavy metal groups' penchant for "manipulating dynamics," Queen are an elite act in the genre and set themselves apart by incorporating "unlikely effects: acoustic piano, harp, acapella vocals, no synthesisers. Coupled with good songs." Melody Maker called the album a "must-have", encouraging listeners to "turn it up loud and enjoy", while the Winnipeg Free Press wrote: "The group's potential is practically limitless, indicating that Queen is destined to finally take its place among the small handful of truly major acts working in rock today." Robert Christgau, writing in The Village Voice, felt that the album "doesn't actually botch any of a half-dozen arty-to-heavy 'eclectic' modes ... and achieves a parodic tone often enough to suggest more than meets the ear." However, he questioned the record's consistency and what "that more is".

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the album "a self-consciously ridiculous and overblown hard rock masterpiece" and "prog rock with a sense of humour as well as dynamics". Erlewine felt that Queen "never bettered their approach anywhere else". Progressive rock historian Stephen Lambe has disputed that the album itself is progressive rock in his book Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock. He wrote: "While far from progressive rock, it was the band's most grandiose and ambitious album yet, full of great songwriting and prog influences." He said the album was "a neat symbol of the furthest reach of the progressive rock movement". The Dutch Progressive Rock Page concluded that A Night at the Opera "crosses musical boundaries and combines many musical styles, which makes it a real progressive album".

In a 2006 review, Q also felt that they never topped the album, which the magazine said "remains glorious, monumental" as British rock music's "greatest extravagance". Uncut noted "the extent of the band's barmy diversity". Mojo called the album "an imperial extravaganza, a cornucopia", and Queen "a band of hungrily competitive individualists on a big roll of friendship and delight". Pitchfork Media's Dominique Leone said that the band topped their contemporaries on the album without limiting themselves or sparing any effort. According to Rhapsody's Mike McGuirk, A Night at the Opera is often viewed as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. McGuirk felt that the album's combination of heavy metal, recording effects, theatrical sophistication, and British grandeur still make for an engaging listen. The BBC said of the record: "Christmas 1975 was to be forever remembered as Queen’s. And A Night at the Opera remains their finest hour."

Accolades

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die US 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die 2005 *
ABC AUS Poll: Top 100 Albums 2007 28
BBC UK Poll: Top 100 Albums 2006 9
Channel 4 UK Poll: Greatest 100 Albums 2005 13
Classic Rock UK The 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever 2001 25
The 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever 2006 17
The 200 Greatest Albums of the 70's (20 greatest of 1975) 2006 *
Kerrang! UK Poll: The 100 Best British Rock Albums Ever 2005 19
NME UK Poll: Greatest 100 Albums of All Time 2006 19
Q UK The 50 Best British Albums Ever 2004 17
Rolling Stone MX Poll: The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time 2004 11
US Poll: Readers' Top 100 Albums 2002 82
US The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 231
Virgin UK Poll: All Time Top 1000 Albums 1998 87

(*) designates unordered lists

 

Track listing

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)"   Freddie Mercury 3:43
2. "Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon"   Mercury 1:08
3. "I'm in Love With My Car"   Roger Taylor 3:05
4. "You're My Best Friend"   John Deacon 2:50
5. "'39"   Brian May 3:25
6. "Sweet Lady"   May 4:01
7. "Seaside Rendezvous"   Mercury 2:13
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
8. "The Prophet's Son"   May 8:21
9. "Love of My Life"   Mercury 3:38
10. "Good Company"   May 3:26
11. "Bohenian Ryapsody"   Mercury 5:57
12. "God Save the Queen" (Instrumental) Traditional, arr. by May 1:11

 

Personnel

Queen
  • Freddie Mercury – lead vocals (except where noted below plus "God Save the Queen"), backing vocals, piano (credited as "Bechstein Debauchery" in liner notes), jangle piano and woodwind vocalizations on "Seaside Rendezvous"
  • Brian May – guitars, ukulele on "Good Company", backing vocals, lead vocals on "'39" and "Good Company", toy koto on "The Prophet's Song", harp on "Love of My Life", orchestral backdrops
  • Roger Taylor – drums, percussion, lead vocals on "I'm in Love with My Car", brass vocalizations on "Seaside Rendezvous", backing vocals
  • John Deacon – bass guitar, double bass on "'39", Wurlitzer electric piano on "You're My Best Friend"
Additional personnel
  • Mike Stone – executive producer
  • Gary Lyons – invaluable additional engineering
  • John Harris – equipment supervision
  • David Costa – art direction
  • Rick Curtin and Brian Palmer – special thanks
  • John Reid – management

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF) Platinum 60,000*
Argentina (CAPIF)
Hollywood Records release
Platinum 60,000*
Austria (IFPI Austria) Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada) Platinum 100,000^
Finland (Musiikkitouttajat) Gold 20,000
Germany (BVMI) Platinum 500,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts)   150,000
Poland (ZPAV)
2008 Agora SA album reissue
2× Platinum 40,000*
United Kingdom (BPI) Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA) 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

 

 

Queen - A Night at the Opera

UK EMI EMTC 103 stereo (1975).

Album produced by Roy Thomas Baker and Queen.

The vinyl record has remained in excellent condition.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean and unmarked.

The albums hinged cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minor age discolouring.

The original inner sleeve is excellently presented.

The album cover has a strong hinge and spine, displaying clear, printed script.

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