Queen Clone Themsleves
3 Out Of 5 Stars
It was once reported that the late, great Freddie Mercury wanted "A Day At The Races" and A Night at the Opera to have been a double album. It's too bad that they weren't, because leaving "Races" to follow the first five star classic Queen album makes it seem like a lesser vehicle. From the reverse color scheme to copping a Marx Brothers movie title, "A Day at The Races" came off sounding like a desperate attempt to copy the madly successful "A Night At The Opera."
That is selling "Races" short. While there was no stunner ala "Bohemian Rhapsody" to be found here, there was the Top 20 single "Somebody To Love" (whose liver version happens to be the best of the bonus tracks), which utilized the now trademark multi-tracked vocal style to a near Gospel effect. The album opener, "Tie Your Mother Down," played it kinky while still mimicking "Death on Two Legs" as a big concert rocker. As always, there are nods to camp and vaudeville ("Millionaire Waltz" and the Ooh La La of "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy"). However, there's an unusually high number of filler songs (the dreadful "White Man" and the maudlin "Teo Torriatte" being the most flagrant violations). I've also always wondered how much "A Day At The Races" might have improved had the band opted not to self-produce but brought Roy Thomas Baker back to the studio.
"A Day At The Races" is more easily viewed as the bridge between "A Night At The Opera" and the second five-star Queen album, "News of the World." "Opera" pushed the band into superstar stratosphere, "News" (with "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions" as its marching order) saw Queen proclaiming themselves rulers of the domain. Being lodged in that position leaves "A Day At The Races" looking like a mid-level Queen album, when in fact it's every bit as good as "Queen II," "Jazz" or "The Works."