A Night at the Opera
(Hollywood 61065)

I've always found the classic rock worship of Queen to be pretty funny, for even though they did rock, they were also one of the wackiest bands in all of rock. It seems to me that their rock tendencies were always more than a little tongue-in-cheek, and a good percentage of their stuff was almost outright comedy.

A Night at the Opera is probably the best reflection of Queen's schizophrenia: opening with the biting rocker "Death on Two Legs," the album immediately switches gears with "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon," a mock 20s song that simply has no place on classic rock radio. That is followed by drummer Roger Taylor's "I'm in Love With My Car," which is not only an astoundingly bad song, but doesn't even sound sincere. That's what I love about Queen, I guess: I'm never quite sure when the joke is on me, but I'm usually pretty certain there's a joke somewhere.

The bulk of this album is great, and it's easy to see why it's established as Queen's "classic album." It's the album that includes "Bohemian Rhapsody," "You're My Best Friend," and "Love of My Life," and it's the Queen album least tainited by bassist John ("Misfire") Deacon's presence. rian May's guitar work is consistently amazing throughout, as are his bizarro folk songs, "'39" (my favorite cut on the album) and the quasi-rag "Good Company." "Sweet Lady" is the only real dud, with the album being rounded out by the sunny "Seaside Rendezvous," the epic "Prophet's Song," and "God Save The Queen" (the closer, of course). The CD includes a couple of throwaway "1991 bonus remixes," which would be of value to me only if the CDs had been released in 1998.

I sometimes wonder if everyone in the band knew exactly how baffling Queen was … surely Freddie Mercury was in on it, right? It was either a cruel experiment in democracy or simply an ironic aloofness that allowed the band to mix crap like "Sweet Lady" with incredibly original masterworks like "Bohemian Rhapsody." About that song: I can still listen to it, in spite of its sudden overkill after being featured in "Wayne's World." A Night at the Opera is recommended on the condition that you enjoy it because it's hilarious, not because it rocks your balls.

Review by Chinese Food