Hi folks. Today it is the Revenge of A Night At The Opera and I will explain the title in a bit. A Night at the Opera is Queen’s fourth studio album, released on 21 November 1975 by EMI Records in the Uk) and by Elektra Records in the US.
The album would be produced again by Roy Thomas Baker and Queen, as they had worked together on the first 3 albums. A Night At The Opera was reportedly the most expensive album ever recorded at the time of its release and other bands had certainly made albums which had cost more money than you could ever dream of since then.
It’s probably common knowledge to Queen fans that the album is named after the Marx Brothers’ film of the same name, like A Day At The Races in 1976. A Night at the Opera was recorded at various studios across a four-month period in 1975. Due to management issues, Queen had received almost no money they had earned for their previous albums. Subsequently, they ended their contract with Trident Studios and did not use their studios for the album. Why would they? After all, Freddie would write a song expressing his feelings on the band’s former management and as far as I’m concerned, Death On Two Legs should have been released as a single months before BohRhap… just because and of course, it would be included as the lead track on A Night At The Opera anyway and like BohRhap, it could go out as is, even with the line “and now you can kiss my ass goodbye”.
Queen and Roy had employed a complex production that extensively used multitrack recording, and the songs incorporated a wide range of styles, such as ballads, music hall, dixieland, hard rock and progressive rock influences. Aside from their usual equipment, Queen also utilised a diverse range of instruments such as a double bass, harp, ukulele and more. We even hear Brian dropping the low E string to D on The Prophet’s Song, years before grunge and what would be known to some as grunge tuning and more refered to as dropped D tuning.
Upon release, A Night at the Opera topped the UK Albums Chart for four non-consecutive weeks.
Even though A Night at the Opera was so expensive to record, Queen would get their money’s worth and then some. Their crowning achievement, it is my favourite Queen album, because it is so fearlessly eclectic, taking equal inspiration from heavy metal and ’20s music hall. Of course, we can’t forget about the staggering hard rock operetta “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a masterpiece that no other band had pulled off before or since then.
This video will do the heavy lifting on all of what you want to know…. what you need to know about how this album was made and why it is so loved by Queen fans and even those who may not be as fanatical about Freddie, Brian, John and Roger. https://youtu.be/29qtzyrDgCA
Yes, this album is up there for me with newer releases like The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails, Roots by Sepultura, White Pony by Deftones, Hysteria and Pyromania by Def Leppard, Demanufacture and Obsolete by Fear Factory, Iowa by Slipknot, Ænima by Tool, American Idiot by Green Day, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins, Violator by Depeche Mode and Metallica by Metallica. All of which I encourage any and all Queen fans to give a listen. A Night At The Opera is also up there with such classics as: The Beatles White Album and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin, The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall by Pink Floyd, among many other masterpieces in the classic rock cannon.
Another more recent album I compare opera to is Revenge by Kiss. Both albums start with menacing tracks with Opera starting off with Death On Two Legs and Revenge starting with Unholy. Both songs come in with a roaring fade-in and in the case of Unholy, it is a shorter duration before the song gets going. After the rumble, the songs present themselves with Unholy staying menacing, while Death expresses anger and vitriol, but with some humour in the lyrics. https://youtu.be/kqVpk0qxmfA
I should also give you a video for Unholy to further make the point about how similar both songs start and start off each album. https://youtu.be/kfmrX_WlM2w
Where as Revenge continues as a normal Kiss hard rock album, Queen bounces from genre to genre with Lazing On a Sunday Afternoon serving as either an interlude or respite from the hard rock before Roger’s I’m In Love With My Car and John’s You’re My Best Friend comes in. Then, we have ’39 and Sweet Lady from brian and Freddie’s Seaside Rendezvous ending off side 1. With Revenge, it is more of a straightahead hard rock album from Kiss, but where singles are placed got my attention, with Domino as both the second official single off the album and as a counter part two Sweet Lady, as they are both track 6 on their respective albums. However, Kiss’s epic song on Revenge God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II is track 5, with The Prophet’s Song serving as track 8 as Opera’s epic track starting off side 2. Track 9 on both albums are ballads, with Love Of My Life and Every Time I Look at You, with Love Of My Life primarily on piano and vocals (with other instruments coming in from time to time) and Every Time I Look At You has acoustic guitars with Paul Stanley’s pleading lead vocals, bass, drums, piano and strings. Kiss don’t bounce from genre to genre like Queen, but they do have 2 lead vocalists with Gene and Paul, with one on the first song and the other on the next. Sometimes it will be Paul on the first 2 or 3, than Gene will do the fourth. In the case of Revenge, it is Gene starting it off, with Unholy and Paul sings Take It Off and Tough Love, then Gene sings Spit. The vocalist bounce continues throughout the album and then with track 11, we have Paul’s single with the track I Just Wanna. Unholy is the lead single at track 1, but the second single (I Just Wanna) at track 11 is also where BohRhap is on the Opera cd and digital downloads. With Unholy at track 1 being written and sung by Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley has his single with I Just Wanna, which would become a great live song, with Paul trying to get the audience to say “fuck” after he sings “I just wanna” and you can hear it on the Alive III album in 1993. Both albums end off with short pieces, with Revenge closing with a track called Carr Jam 1981 and it is about 2 minutes long and had the late Eric Carr on drums, who died of a brain hemorrhage, after dealing with heart cancer and previous to the hemorrhage, an aneurysm. He died the same day as Freddie and I can understand why Kiss were not happy that Freddie got more media attention and Eric should have received as much coverage as Freddie did. On Revenge, Eric Singer would be playing drums after Eric Carr was booted out of Kiss. Unlike what Kiss did to Eric, Queen did not even think of walking out on Freddie, before his passing and I give them props for that. Anyway, A Night At The Opera ends with its own short closer with God Save The Queen, that has ended every Queen concert since some time in 1974. I almost forgot, that Eric Singer would also play with Brian on the world tour of the Another World album in 1998, while the original lineup of Kiss were promoting the album Psycho Circus, as it was said to have the classic 4 members on it. The album did feature the 4 original members of Kiss (complete with their make up), but Eric Singer played some drums and more recent guitarist Tommy Thayer would be on guitar, with the only song featuring Gene, Paul Ace and Peter being Into the Void. Anyway, I digress.
I had first heard Opera in 1990, when a radio station I would listen to while at school would play entire albums late at night and it just happened that this album would be featured, just after our Canadian Thanks Giving and a day after what should have been John Lennon’s 50th birthday. I didn’t really think anything of it, except that it was interesting to hear a folksy type song on a hard rock album, that wasn’t The Beatles or Led Zeppelin.
In 1991, my room mate had got the album on tape and had loaned it to me for the summer and I had noticed that side 1 had ended with Keep Good Company and Seaside Rendezvous appearing on side 2, between Love Of My Life and BohRhap. When I had got it on cd in September 1991, I was really happy that the remixes weren’t hip-hop based and happen to be modern mixes of I’m In Love With My Car and You’re My Best Friend. Since then I had bought a gold disk version in 1992, the deluxe and standard versions of the album as a digital download from iTunes and of course, the Classic Albums documentary on the making of A Night At The Opera. I wonder if there may be other versions coming in the future, much like we have for News Of The World and The Miracle, with more alternate versions and goodies from the studio.
Anyway, now you know why the title of this post includes the word “Revenge” in it, because of the Kiss album from 1992, which I also happen to like. Both albums open with tracks which disarm you and don’t whack you over the head right away, like Party does with The Miracle, or We Will Rock You does on News Of The World. Thankfully, A Night At The Opera has been recognized as a classic and landmark album for a band, who have had ups and downs and have survived through a lot, including the death of Freddie in 1991. BohRhap’s inclusion on the soundtrack to Wayne’s World and in the movie was really cool, especially for metal heads who have come out and admitted to being Queen fans. I think that even Pantera may have said something about BohRhap and Wayne’s World, but I don’t remember the exact quote I may have heard 30 years ago. Either way, I’m happy that it had charted back in 1992, when I was 19 and trying my best to get my fellow students into Queen at my school, as apposed to the hair metal and all the other stuff that was out there, (which I also love), but Queen are equally as worthy of love from the metal community of 1991 and of course, Metallica had covered Stone Cold Crazy so, what’s not to like?
Let’s all give A Night At The Opera a listen when we can and maybe even, give Revenge by Kiss a listen, along with all of the other albums I had mentioned here, as worthy classics, both modern and from the past.