When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to: A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time. B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety. C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers. D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).
Greetings, Glancers! Today in the never-ending Nightman Listens To series, I visit my first Queen album. Are you excited? I certainly am, and I’m looking forward to discovering some new favourites. You may know that I’ve never been a massive Queen fan, I don’t have anything against them and I do love plenty of their hit singles. Maybe after I listen to one complete Queen album, the floodgates will open and I’ll be a convert.
What Do I Know About Queen: What a silly question. One of the biggest rock bands on the planet, even decades after their peak and after the death of vocalist Freddie Mercury their popularity endures and their music has lost none of its power.
What Do I Know About A Night At The Opera: I have heard a few people name this as the best Queen album. Does it feature Bohemian Rhapsody? The title suggests a concept album, or songs loosely tied together with an operatic approach or theme? In other words, I know nothing about it. It will take some beating to be better than Blind Guardian’s masterpiece of the same name. Insert link to top 15 albums.
Death On Two Legs: Piano. Twinkling. Sounds like an opera so far. Flash Gordon noises. Threatening. Growing. ALien attack. Scream. Gone. Soft. Guitar fun. Guitar madness. Vocals. Doing a Hetfield. Narrow minded cronies. Unusual pauses. Has the Queen sound, harmonies, May’s signature guitar. Great stuff. Surging and fading vocals. Actually reminds me of Blind Guardian, so I assume this was a template for them in more than name. End.
Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon: Jaunty piano, arcade music. Ringo. Weirdo vocals. London town. Louvrrrre. Weirdo guitars.
I’m In Love With My Car: Revs. Future sounds. Clean machine. That ain’t Mercury. Duet? No idea. Plodding but heavy. More good stuff. Odd ending. End.
You’re My Best Friend: I know this one, of course. I always thought this was a little twee, but damn catchy any. Too many adverts have used this. Just a nice, happy song to put a smile on your face without being crap.
39: Led Zep 3 esque. Roy Harper. A little bit country, a little bit folk. Bonzo thump. Nostalgia. Is this a dedication to Zep, or folk in general? Howling. Protest song melodies. I think I’m converted. Not Mercury either. I didn’t realise others sang on their albums, is it a guest or one of the other band members?
Sweet Lady: Riff. Drums. All present, sir. Stones. Catchy again. I’m amazed I haven’t heard more of these. Cheese, but not that. Funky breakdowns. Howls. Faster. Solo. Woo. Headbang. Yay, Queen rock!
Seaside Rendezvous: Jaunty. Seaside. Clementine. See, they could probably do without these fun throwaway songs. Mouth mess. Weeeeeee. Whistle.
The Prophet’s Song: Twinkies. Guitar. Western. Atmosphere. Brooding stomps. Some sort of story. Flash Gordon. More words. People. Plant vocals. Voice collapse. Now I know. Indeed. Lalallalalalalalala, broken ears headphone disgrace. Man man. Crunch. Guitars return. Noise. Growth. Harp. Wind.
Love Of My Life: Piano and acoustic guitars. A classical feel. I believe I’ve heard this one before, yes yes. Lovely melodies, and feels a little like the quiet moments of Bohemian Rhapsody. Ghost voices. Guitar like a cello. Very nice, though a strange amount of instrumental moments without vocals for such a short song.
Good Company: Teeth. Cleaning windows. Faster. Drums and guitars. Sounds like a lost McCartney. Phasing. Moon man. Singing through a tube. Weirdo guitars. Jam. End.
Bohemian Rhapsody: I think we all know this one, right? Nothing more to say really.
God Save The Queen: Rushing in. Guitar anthem. I see. An odd ending, but apt.
Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 96/1000
What I Learned: Queen knew how to rock, and fairly heavily. I knew this of course, but most of the songs I was familiar with always had that pop edge and I didn’t think they’d really gone beyond that. This album showcases both the commercial pop side, a heavier side, and a lot of experimentation with guitars and vocals. I’m not sure if the album does all tie together in some sort of single concept and I’d need to go back and listen to the lyrics of each track. Overall, I learned that this is a fantastic album.
Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Well, that’s easily my favourite album out of the few I’ve listened to since kicking off this endeavour. A very fine album indeed, with only a couple of tracks I knew of, and a bunch I’m already looking forward to listening to again. I can’t say how influential this particular record was, but for the mid seventies it was pretty heavy and featured a lot of harmonic vocals in a wall of sound which it appears had an impact on Blind Guardian. Quality wise, this is a solid rock album and one I thoroughly enjoyed, and it is a lot better than other so-called great albums at least on first listen.
What you think of this album – when did you first hear it? Does it hold a special place in your musical history? let us know in the comments section!