Path: Queen - Royal Legend - Albums: A Night At The Opera

Albums: A Night At The Opera

Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the most successful rock song ever. Since it was released, it moved to no.1 post for next 9 weeks. This record was overcame by 'Everything I Do, I Do It For You' from Bryan Adams in time, when Freddie was fighting his ready lost battle. This song was really the first BIG hit of Queen and they convinced the music is the only one thing, that they'd like to do. BoRap is collective work of Freddie and producent Roy Thomas Baker. He was excited, after hearing few first raw notes of the song. Freddie wanted to combine two absolutely different music styles, it oftenly counted to be unsuccessful, but he wanted much more. From a simple operatic strain it gradually became more than 180 voice track. Whole song was recorded during 3 weeks, Freddie was still adding more and more ideas and still changing all parts of the song, to make it sound right to his conception. Whole record was done, but it was long about 6 minutes. EMI wanted to make it shorter, because of nobody would be interested in so long song. But the group was confindeted about its success and all requests denided. Freddie told about this problem to prominent Radio One's DJ Kenny Everett and he asked Freddie about unofficial copy of the song. He was keen with it and enforced it. He was trying to play it again and again, as the people requested it. Then EMI decided to release the song. Critics were, ofcourse, uncompromising, but one mont later it was hit no. 1.

The promotional shot established the phenomenon of the rock video. Promotional films were nothing new. A couple of musicians and band made special films, but video for 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was something quite else - a work of art. It was an accident, because they were unable to appear on BBC Television's 'Top Of The Pops'. "At the time we were touring England," said John, "and we knew we wouldn't be able to get to record Top Of The Pops on the Wednesday." The video costs just 4,500 UK pounds, 4 hours of recording, and one day of editing.

Death On Two Legs (Dedicated to...) infuriated Norman Sheffield on preview evening. He presumed, that the song is dedicated to him. With lines "You've taken all my money and you want more" and "Put your money where your mouth is, Mister know-all", predictated of the unkind break of the group and Norman.

During the UK tour in 1975 Queen once played two concerts in one night in Manchester.

Queen about the record:
Brian
"I think we knew we had something special. We said 'This can be our Sgt. Pepper. Or whatever'. We ran the tape through so many times it kept wearing out. Once we held the tape up to the light and we could see straight through it. The music had practically vanished. We transferred it in a hurry. Strange business - holding on to this elusive sound signal which gradually disappeared as we created it. Every time Fred decided to add a few more 'Galileos' we lost something too."
"It's more extreme. It's varied, but it goes further in its various directions. It has a couple of the heaviest things we've ever done and probably some of the lightest things as well. It's probably closer to 'Sheer Heart Attack' than the others in that it does dart around and create lots of different moods, but we worked on it in the same way we worked on 'Queen II'. A lot of it is very intense and very ... layered."
"The Prophets Song had been around for quite a long time, and I finished the lyrics off when we were making the album. I don't know exactly what inspired the words - I had a dream about some of it which I put into the song. With 'Good Company', I indulge a fetish of mine - all the things that sound like other instruments, like trumpets and clarinets were done with guitar. To get the effect of the instruments I was doing one note at a time with the pedal and building them up, so you can imagine how long it took. There was such a wide variety on those albums. Fred doing quite slushy ballad then a heavy rock thing then something else - and we were willing to try everything because we always wanted to expand our range. '39' is a science fiction story about someone who goes away and leaves his family, and because of the time-dilation effect, where the people on earth have aged a lot more than has when he returns, he's aged a year and they've aged a hundred years. I felt that about my home at the time having been away and seen this vastly different world of rock music which was totally different from the way I was brought up."

Freddie
"There were a lot of things we needed to do on 'Queen II' and 'Sheer Heart Attack' but there wasn't enough space. This time there is. Guitar wise and on vocals we've done things we haven't done before.
To finish the album we will work till we are legless. I'll sing until my throat is like a vultures crotch. We haven't even reached halfway stage yet but from the things I can hear we have surpassed everything we've done before musically."

Freddie (about Death On Two Legs)
"Death On Two Legs, I'm not going to say anymore -- just listen to the words carefully kiddies. A nasty little number which brings out my evil streak. The words came very easy to me."

Freddie (about Love Of My Life)
"There's also a lovely little ballad, my classical influence comes into it. Brian is going to attempt to use harp, real life-size harp. I'm going to force him to play till his fingers drop off. It's called Love Of My Life."

Freddie (about Seaside Rendezvouz)
"Another of my songs, Seaside Rendezvous, has a 1920's feel to it and Roger Taylor does a tuba and clarinet on it vocally, if you see what I mean. I'm going to make him tap dance too, I'll have to buy him some Ginger Rogers tap shoes."

Freddie (about Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon)
"Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon is a short track, just one minute six seconds. A very perky spicey number dear. Brian likes that one."

Freddie (about The Prophet's Song)
"Brian has an outrageous mammoth epic track The Prophet's Song which is one of our heaviest numbers to date. He's got his guitar extravaganza on it. You see, Brian has acquired a new guitar specially built so he can almost make it speak. It will talk on this track."

Freddie (about Good Company)
"Then there's Good Company written by Brian, a George Formby track with saxophones, trombone and clarinet sounds from his guitar. We don't believe in having any session men, we do everything ourselves, from the high falsetto to the low bassy farts; it's all us."

Freddie (about '39)
"Another track is '39 a little spacey number by Brian, a skiffle style of number which we've never tried before and the album ends with something totally unexpected, a little virtuoso track by Brian. There's also Sweet Lady a heavyish ditty in stupendous."

Roger (about I'm In Love With My Car)
"People like Jonathan King have made lots of money through writing crass rubbish B-sides to decent songs. But I can talk - I wrote the B-side to 'Bohemian Rhapsody'; mind you, that was a good song. In effect, I made just as much money then as Freddie did for writing 'Bohemian Rhapsody', which people bought the record for. That's not right, is it? But justice and the law are two different things."

Freddie (about Bohemian Rhapsody)
"'Bohemian Rhapsody' didn't just come out of thin air. I did a bit of research, although it was tongue in cheek and it was a mock opera. Why not? I certainly wasn't saying I was an opera fanatic and I knew everything thing about it."
"People used to have clips before, but they were often shot on film. It was quite accidental. . . at the time we were touring England, and we knew we wouldn't be able to get to record Top Of The Pops on the Wednesday. Our managers at the time had a mobile unit, so it was actually shot on video, in about four hours!"
"We wanted to experiment with sound. Sometimes we used three studios simultaneously. 'bohemian Rhapsody' took bloody ages to record but we had all the freedom we wanted and we've been able to go to greater extremes."
"A lot of people slammed 'Bohemian Rhapsody', but who can you compare that to? Name one group that's done an operatic single. We were adamant that 'Bohemian Rhapsody' could be a hit in its entirety. We have been forced to make compromises, but cutting up a song will never he one of them!"
"I'm really pleased about the operatic thing. I really wanted to be outrageous with vocals because we're always getting compared with other people, which is very stupid. If you really listen to the operatic bit there are no comparisons, which is what we want."
"We don't want to be outrageous. It's in us. There are so many things we want to do which we can't do all at the same time. It's impossible. At the moment we've made an album which, let's face it, is too much to take for most people. But it was what we wanted to do. We could have done a few things that are on "A Night At The Opera" on the first album but it would have been too much to take for certain people. Really. It just so happens that you can't cram everything on one album. It's a progression. "After the third album ("Sheer Heart Attack"), we thought, 'now we've established ourselves and we can do certain things.' Like, vocally we can outdo any band. We just thought that we would go out, not restrict ourselves with any barriers, and just do exactly what we want to do. It just so happened that I had this operatic thing and I thought, 'why don't we do it.'"

Brian (about Bohemian Rhapsody)
"'Rhapsody' is not a stage number. A lot of people don't like us leaving the stage. But to be honest, I'd rather leave than have us playing to a backing tape. If you're out there and you've got backing tapes, it's a totally false situation.
So we'd rather be up front about it and say, 'Look. This is not something you can play on stage. It was multi-layered in the studio.
We'll play it because we think you want to hear it.' We're not into the over the top production for the sake at it, but because it highlights the music, that's the object in our eyes."
"Everyone thought that the film was a huge production, but it was actually shot in only four hours. It was really easy to do, and since then we've spent a lot of time on films that probably weren't as good and certainly didn't get the exposure."
"'Bohemian Rhapsody' was really Freddie's baby from the beginning: he came in and knew exactly what he wanted. The backing track was done with just piano, bass and drums, with a few spaces for other things to go in, like the tic-tic-tic on the hi-hat to keep the time, and Freddie sang a guide vocal at the time, but he had all his harmonies written out, and it was really just a question of doing it."
"Freddie used to come into the studio armed with sheets and sheets of paper with notes scribbled all over them in his own particular fashion. It wasn't standard musical notation, but A's and B's and C's and sharps in blocks - like buses zooming all over his bits of paper. He had the song all worked out when he came in. We played a backing track which left the gaps. And he would go, 'bum bum bum bmm, that's what happens here.... 'He knew exactly what he was doing all along. It was Freddie's baby. He had It in his head'. We Just helped him bring it to life. We were stretching the limits of technology in those days. Because 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was entirely done on 16 track, we had to do a lot of bouncing as we went along; the tape got very thin. This 'legendary' story, that people think we made up. Is true: we held the tape up to the light one day - we'd been wondering where all the top end was going - and we discovered was virtually a transparent piece of tape. All the oxide had been rubbed off. It was time to hurriedly make a copy and get on with it."

Roger (about Bohemian Rhapsody video)
"Well we didn't actually see it until it was actually on Top Of The Pops, cos we were just doing it at the beginning of a tour. We were finishing rehearsals and we shot it on the last day in Elstree - and we just sort of got on a bus at the end at about 2 o'clock in the morning and drove to Liverpool, cos we had a show there the next night - so we, we'd never seen the video until it was on Top Of The Pops the next week."

Gary Lagan [assistant engineer] (about Bohemian Rhapsody)
"The drums, the bass and maybe the guide guitar and piano from Fred have got to be 10 or 12 tracks and ot only leaves you another 12 of fool around with, which isn't very much when you look at the amount of vocals that are going on. You had to keep vouncing things down, without losing the quality of everything, and we coudn't even go back a stage. Once you'd gone down a route then nine times out of 10 it would destroy what you'd already done, so you had to make sure that what you were doing was 100 per cent right, because there was no undo button in those days."

Reviews:
A Night At The Opera
Melody Maker : All in all it gives feelings of great scale and power of music and pointed lyrics. My hairs rises on my head - so if You're interested in good music and You don't care, if You look stupid, go and buy it.

You're My Best Friend
Sounds : It will be absolute show-stopper with nice harmonies, distinct guitar chords and beautiful voice of Freddie. Really first-class!

Other versions:
I'm In Love With My Car
Single Version
B-side of the Bohemian Rhapsody single. Different to the album version. Basicaly, the intro and outro swapped themselves, so the song starts with engine noise and ends with fading guitar.
Queen Rocks Version
On th Queen Rocks compilation. 3:11 long mix starts exactly as single version and ends with engine and guitar together.
Hollywood Remix 1991
On US release by Hollywood Records with different intro, slightly changed acoustics feeling, long as album version.

You're My Best Friend
Hollywood Remix 1991
Similar to the original.

God Save The Queen
Single Version
B-side to the new US 7" single Keep Yourself Alive. Song is longer with all the drums, that are heard in the begining.

My opinion:
9/10
Classic Queen album. You MUST to have it.
This briliant piece 'Night At The Opera' highlighted the group to the top of the rock world. And they finally earned some money. 'Death On Two Legs', superb 'I'm In Love With My Car' from Roger, 'You're My Best Friend' hit, nice guitar and voice in ''39', eight and half minute long minioperatic 'The Prophets Song' with voice of Freddie, mixed into two delayed stereo channels, beautiful ballad 'Love Of My Life' and bombastic 'Bohemian Rhapsody'...what more to say, You must hear it, or see it (Wayne's World).