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Queen

A Day at the Races

Review by Gary Hill

Queen was really such an intriguing band. They were never really easy to pin down stylistically. This disc has a lot of songs that just "feel" like Queen, but (although there are some links to other songs), it's a unique set. Not everything the band did in these days was prog, but it much of it was art music.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Tie Your Mother Down
A hard-rocking riff drives this tune out of the gate. It's a classy rocker that still manages to have some prog angles. That said, this has definite Sweet-like glam angles to it. The guitar solo is sheer brilliance.
You Take My Breath Away
Nearly the first minute of this is acapella with a real vocal powerhouse. Piano rises up from there and holds it for a time before the vocals return. There is a classical vibe to the track in some ways. Multiple layers of vocals rise up as the number turns toward an old-school jazz vibe. As the guitar comes in later, this turns decidedly proggy. It's trademark Queen. It's also so cool. It returns to piano and vocals only from there to seemingly end the piece. However, the waves of vocals rise up again after a time in a short reprise.
Long Away
Brian May handles the vocals on this tune. The track has a mainstream 70s pop rock sound to it. The thing is, the more trademark Queen elements and other vocals come in later to elevate this. It has the best of a standard pop rock sound, but it's also turned toward the unique via that essential Queen eclecticism.
The Millionaire Waltz
A bouncy, old-timey piano line brings this in. The vocals come over the top. After a time some guitar climbs in. This is trademark Queen with all its quirkiness. The harder rocking section later is so classy. I can make out some hints of "Death on Two Legs" in some of the guitar parts. It gets into some serious bombast for a time, but then drops to an odd, but tasty piano and guitar movement. The tune builds back out from there toward more Queen pomp, but the old-fashioned sounds returns for a piano and vocal movement. The song just keeps getting reinvented. It is so dynamic and decidedly proggy.
You and I
More of a fun pop rock sound starts this. It's playful and catchy. It also has some Queen trademarks on display. There is a tasty little bit of guitar pyrotechnics at the end of this.
Somebody to Love
A sea of vocals start this. Piano comes in after that. Then we get a pretty trademark Queen jam that rises up from there. This feels like it would have fit on A Night of the Opera quite well. It's a pretty safe bet you've heard this song, as it's one of the group's bigger hits. It's a classy tune, too.
White Man
I dig the guitar sound that starts this. Freddy Mercury's voice comes over the top of this stripped back arrangement that calls to mind "Prophet's Song" to some degree. They play it somewhat restrained for the first verse, but then it explodes into a full, hard-rocking arrangement from there. As they do the comparisons "Prophet's Song" intensify. That said, this gets more visceral than that piece, and lacks some of the proggy subtlety of it. It leans toward the metallic later. We get a short dropped down movement at the end to close things in style.
Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy
There is a bouncy pop rock sound with a lot of retro textures in the mix here. This is fun stuff. I dig the quirky retro meets rock sound on the guitar solo a lot. This is trademark Queen.
Drowse
Prog meets Sweet on this cool rocker. Of course, it's decidedly Queen, as well. It's solid, but not a standout.
Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)
Piano is the first thing heard on this number. The vocals come in over the top of that backdrop to continue. The cut is seriously art rock based. The Queen mannerisms and quirks are on full display. This is a cool number that works well as a closer. It is dynamic with a great balance between mellower and more rocking sections.
 
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