Retro Review: A Night At The Opera by Queen

Benji Keeler, Reporter

The cover for Queen’s 1975 landmark album “A Night at the Opera” is pictured. The album went on to sell over six million copies and cement Queen’s place in music history. (EMI, Elektra)

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died on November 24, 1991. His loss to the music world was profound.

But some 16 years earlier, November 21, in 1975, Queen released their fourth studio album, A Night at the Opera. The music world would never be the same.

A Night at the Opera brought Queen international success and helped lead them to become one of the greatest, most recognizable rock bands of all time. The album included hits such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “You’re My Best Friend,” as well as some lesser known gems like “‘39” and “The Prophet Song.”

A Night at the Opera the most expensive album ever made at the time.  The cost, some £40,000 or about $430,000, was due to the album being recorded in seven different studios, utilizing extensive multi-tracking and using a relatively new recording system: a 16-track tape.  The album went on to sell six million copies.

A Night At The Opera was nominated for two Grammys, ranked on Rolling Stones Top 500 Albums of All Time list, and was inducted into the Grammy’s Hall of Fame in 2018. And for good reason. The album consists of twelve tracks that amount to 43 minutes of musical masterpiece. The album maintains an overall theme with each song while ensuring that no two songs sound too similar.

The album has everything someone could want from Queen. There are songs that can be rocked out to, like “Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To),” “I’m In Love With My Car,” and “Sweet Lady.” This album also contains plenty of songs that can be put on to listen to while relaxing, such as “You’re My Best Friend,” “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon,” “Good Company,” and the emotionally perfect “Love Of My Life.” 

But of course, it would not be a Queen album without some experimental tracks. “Seaside Rendezvous” includes a section where the band uses vocals to mimic kazoos and other woodwind and brass instruments, as well as a tap dance section done entirely with thimbles on a table. “The Prophet Song” is unlike anything ever heard before, including a section that lasts nearly two and a half minutes of only Mercury’s vocals looping and layering and harmonizing. “‘39” opens up with acoustic guitar and harmonized vocals with an opera-esque feel that’s very fitting with the album’s title. 

The album also includes what arguably might be Queen’s best song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” This six minute rock opera mashup is an iconic staple in Queen’s discography and was released as the first single from the album. The track includes an intro, a ballad, an operatic section, and a hard rock section that quiets back down as it peacefully comes to an end. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the second-to-last track on the album, followed only by an instrumental version of the United Kingdom’s National Anthem, “God Save The Queen.” Despite being nearly six minutes long, “Bohemian Rhapsody” sold over a million singles in its initial run in 1975.

Overall, the album is a true musical masterpiece and one of a kind. “A Night At The Opera” is a must-listen to any fan of music. 10/10.