QUEEN — A Day At The Races

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QUEEN - A Day At The Races cover
3.78 | 44 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Tie Your Mother Down (4:47)
2. You Take My Breath Away (5:08)
3. Long Away (3:33)
4. The Millionaire Waltz (4:54)
5. You And I (3:25)
6. Somebody To Love (4:56)
7. White Man (4:59)
8. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy (2:54)
9. Drowse (3:45)
10. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) (5:57)

Total Time 44:24


- Freddie Mercury / vocals, piano
- Brian May / guitars, vocals, piano, harmonium
- Roger Taylor / drums, percussions, vocals, guitar, timpani
- John Deacon / bass guitar, acoustic guitar

- Mike Stone / vocals (track 8)

About this release

10 December 1976

Reissued in 1991 by Hollywood Records with the following bonus tracks:

11. Tie Your Mother Down (remix by Matt Wallace, 1991) (3:44)
12. Somebody to Love (remix by Randy Badazz, 1991) (5:00)

Reissued in 2011 by Universal Records with a bonus disc with the following tracklist:

1. Tie Your Mother Down (backing track mix, 2011) (3:48)
2. Somebody To Love (Live At Milton Keynes, June, 1982) (7:55)
3. You Take My Breath Away (Live In Hyde Park, September, 1976) (3:06)
4. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy (Top Of The Pops, July, 1977) (2:51)
5. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) (HD mix) (4:47)

Reissued in 2011 by iTunes with the following videos:

6. You Take My Breath Away (Live At Earls Court, 1977)
7. Tie Your Mother Down (Live At Milton Keynes, 1982)
8. Somebody To Love

Thanks to Time Signature, UMUR, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Oh how the tides had turned for QUEEN in two short years. After completing the “Sheer Heart Attack” tour the band was destitute despite cracking the top 20 with two singles, having a high charting album and a successful world tour that consisted of 77 live performances. This was mostly due to the miscreancy of their manager Norman Sheffield. After firing the shady bloodsucker, the band hired Elton John’s manager John Reid who would instill in them the confidence to sally forth and crank out the best album possible. Lo and behold, QUEEN did just that with the lauded classic “A Night At The Opera,” a behemoth work of massive proportion that took everything QUEEN and put it on steroids. The album was considered the most expensive ever to make at the time with lavish production and countless studio time to make it one of the most classic albums in recorded music.

So how does one follow “A Night At The Opera?” Well, with A DAY AT THE RACES of course. Realizing that they had at last found the limelight they deserved with shady managers well behind, QUEEN went the logical route and created a sequel to their 1975 masterpiece with basically the same exact album cover albeit with a black background substituting for a white and yet another Marx Brothers film title which prompted Graucho Marx to contact the band and congratulate them on their success and excellent choice of album titles! The one two punch of Marx Bros film titles prompted the band to promise that there would never be any albums titled “Duck Soup” or “Room Service” in the future and that a new chapter of QUEEN would begin with the very next album.

QUEEN’s fifth album was eagerly anticipated and basically went platinum before it even went on sale but it when it did hit the market it shot up to #1 in various countries like the UK, Japan and the Netherlands as well as hitting #5 on the US Billboard 200. QUEEN were now superstars a mere two years after being on skid row and dangerously close to having no future as a band at all. Commercially A DAY AT THE RACES continued all the fortune and fame that “A Night At The Opera” had won this eccentric English quartet however despite the attempt to create a sequel which finds a similar musical approach of incorporating bluesy heavy rock, piano pop, waltzes and Victorian music hall themes with other disparate genres, the album comes off with a completely different feel. Unlike the previous album, this one also has gospel and jazz elements but tends to have less of the progressive rock nuances more present on the first four albums despite the many time signatures that do occur.

While A DAY AT THE RACES very much uses its predecessor as the template, there was a deliberate attempt not to merely carbon copy and paste onto a new album despite the almost identical album covers. Once again the entire band lent a hand in both the songwriting process and multi-instrumentalism with the usual Mercury and May tracks receiving the most exposure. Predictably the May penned tracks are heavier and guitar oriented. The feisty opener “Tie Your Mother Down” actually dated back to 1968 at the time when when May was working on his PhD in Astronomy and wrote the track on a Spanish classical guitar while vacationing in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The track was resurrected and given the heavy metal treatment and one of the better track on the album which made the perfect opener to SHOUT to the world that QUEEN was back.

Likewise, May’s other contributions included “Long Away” on which he not only played guitar but sang as well as the closer “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)” which has two choruses sung in Japanese. The best May penned track is sure the heavy “White Man” which tackles the sticky subject of the atrocities that Native American populations were subjected to by the conquistadors of Europeans who stole and killed with impunity and how they continue to do so. This is one of the heaviest tracks the band has ever cranked out with chunky guitar riffs and rough and tumble harmonic vocal delivers by all the members.

Both Deacon and Taylor contribute a song each just as on the previous album. Deacon’s was “You And I” which is a piano driven track where Deacon himself plays acoustic guitar but not nearly as memorable as his outstanding “You’re My Best Friend” on “Opera.” Likewise Taylor delivered the guitar slide heavy “Drowse” which utilized the same 6/8 time signature that he used with “I’m In Love With My Car” although it sounds nothing like that track. Instead it is a mid-paced rock track with a very bluesy feel. Likewise, while decent not as memorable as “I’m In Love With My Car.”

The rest of the lion’s share was written by Freddie Mercury who implement this piano jangles as the basis for the songwriting process. He cranked out the expected similar ballads such as “You Take My Breathe Away” which began with a rather cool multi-tracked vocal intro turned piano ballad and outroed the same way. While Mercury would spew with vitriol on “Death On Two Legs” about his former business manager, on “The Millionaire Waltz” he would do the exact opposite by dedicating this one to his current manager John Reid who helped turn the tides. The track is noticeably similar to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in that the piano arrangements utilize the same multi-key and multi-meter elements as well as the multi-tracked guitars and vocal styles. The track also has many time signature changes making this one the most progressive on the album. The tasty “Somebody To Love” was influenced by the gracious gospel work of Aretha Franklin and become the big hit of the album.

While QUEEN was riding high by 1976 as they quickly became one of rock music hottest musical acts, it was also clear that there seemed little they could do to top the majesty of their miracle album “A Night At The Opera.” While all the elements were recycled for the following A DAY AT THE RACES, this sequel is clearly not up to par with the magnanimous and outlandishness of its predecessor. While there are many great tracks on board, none have the graced by the hands of god effect that “Opera” delivered with ease. At this point QUEEN was becoming formulaic as a pop rock act and would become more of a brand name rather than a true art rock band that had launched them into the limelight. Despite not living up to the magnitude that “Opera” delivered, A DAY AT THE RACES is still a stellar QUEEN album that delivers all the expected eccentricities, musical diversity and of course seas of overdubs to infinity. While Mercury’s wings may have become singed because he flew too high too quickly, at this point he and the rest of QUEEN were still airborne at least.
"A Day at the Races" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK rock act Queen. The album was released through EMI/Parlophone in Europe and Elektra/Hollywood in the US in December 1976.

"A Day at the Races" is in many ways the sister album to "A Night at the Opera (1975)". Stylistically the cover artworks of the two albums are very similar but more importantly the eclectic music style of "A Night at the Opera (1975)" is very much continued on "A Day at the Races". There are elements from theatrical/progressive rock, hard rock, pop and cabaret music on the album. The incredible vocals/backing vocals/choirs are the greatest assets of the music but like the case has been on every preceeding album the instrumental performances are also on a very high level. The compositions wether they are of the more challenging or of the more easily asseccible kind are all very well written. They can be both epic, tongue in cheek humourous, sweet or hard rocking. The latter is certainly the case with album opener "Tie Your Mother Down" but also "White Man" is a pretty hard rocking track. Tracks like "The Millionaire Waltz" and "You Take My Breath Away" represent the more thetrical/progressive part of the band´s repetoire.

In terms of quality I think "A Day at the Races" is a slight step down from "A Night at the Opera (1975)". But only a slight step. This is still a high quality release deserving a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating.
The first time I'm attracted to this album is because of 'Tie Your Mother Down' which was covered by Lynch Mob, a band of George Lynch after his departure from Dokken. I admit I never been a huge fan of Queen but this album is basically lovable with perhaps only couple of duds. Queen's original version of 'Tie' is excellent but I still prefer Mob's version because it's heavier and rougher. Both are awesome and different though.

The second biggest single, 'Somebody To Love', is classic, karaoke hit, and beautiful. Together with 'Take Your Breath Away' are the pinnacles of 'A Day At The Races'. This latter ballad, which was written and performed for the first time live by Mercury even before it's recorded, is an enchanting piano piece, the melodies are simple but haunting, this song is so great it chills me to the bone. 'Long Away' is a nice easy listening track with Brian May on vocal; 'The Millionaire Waltz' is acrobatic and complex and showcasing Mercury's difficult falsetto performance.

'You And I' is a poppish piano driven radio track, I love this one, and 'Good Old Fashioned Love' is a simple but effective track too. However there are two dreadful tracks here which was totally avoidable, 'White Man' and 'Drowse'. Brian May's tribute to Japanese fans, 'Teo Toriatte' is a tender song but very average, luckily it's the best among the three weakest tune.

I like this album a lot, I know some fans dislike it, but nevermind since I truly feel that it has loads of great songs inside. Great and enjoyable stuff!
A Day At the Races is a clear step down from A Night At the Opera - and I've gone on record here as saying that A Night At the Opera is a rather overrated collection of a few great tunes padded out with excess filler. Here the quality is a bit more consistent at least, in that none of the songs are quite as useless as the most forgettable tracks on Opera, but at the same time the album simply has no songs to put on a par with Death On Two Legs, Bohemian Rhapsody - or, hell, even You're My Best Friend or I'm In Love With My Car. The closest the album comes to an iconic moment is Somebody to Love - an awful, overhyped, overplayed and overpompous anthem - and the best track is probably Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, which is around on a par with one of the more bearable vaudeville moments on Opera. Truly disappointing.
"A Day at the Races" is Queen's answer to "A Night at The Opera" that transcended Queen history with its masterful 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

So this album is the act that follows, a difficult task, given the status of the previous album. It begins with a backwards musical section and then the killer 'Tie Your Mother Down' crunches out, a song that became a live staple for the band and an excellent opening track showcasing Mercury's inimitable vocal style.

'You Take My Breath Away' is a soft ballad like a dull lullaby and I never did like these Queen ballads.

'Millionaire Waltz' is a strange fractured tracks with trademark Queen harmonies. There is even an odd waltz like lead break and it moves from minimalist piano to duel guitars, sounding like a bourgeoisie dance hall song at times. Innovative and complex structure and takes off towards the end.

'You and I' is a piano led track with medium paced drums and bass and multilayered harmonies.

'Somebody to Love' is a famous Queen anthem with very layered bombastic harmonies and it builds to a majestic conclusion, once again a fan favourite and often sung on a live set.

'White Man' is one of the highlights with excellent structure and strong guitar melodies and riffs.

'Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy' is terrible Mercury and piano lyrical nonsense that is corny to the max but thankfully only short.

'Drowse' has some cool guitar slides and is very different where May takes the vocals I believe.

'Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)' is one of the better ballads with piano, and features some foreign language creating an intriguing song, though it is as self important, pomp and bombastic as other ballads. It feels all a bit dated and kitsch like 'We are the World', uplifting but corny in the style. At the end a backmasked musical section bookends the album.

So it does not live up to its predecessor's reputation, but it is not too bad with some of the best Queen tracks in their history.

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