Queen-mania erupted worldwide with A Night At The Opera (1975), and the smash “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Nobody had ever heard anything like this, before or since. It is an amazing piece of work, and the stories of the recording process alone are the stuff of legend — not to mention the sales the song enjoyed. The whole album is a delight. There is of course the other hit, “You’re My Best Friend,” Roger Taylor’s “I’m In Love With My Car,” and the sweet “39” with a rare Brian May vocal. Fittingly, Queen topped it off with an instrumental version of “God Save The Queen.”
The group continued their Marx Bros. inspired LP titles with A Day At The Races (1976), and once again they took no prisoners. From the very first notes of “Tie Your Mother Down,” Queen continued to prove that they were no fluke. “Somebody To Love” was the biggest hit on the album, and other highlights include “You Take My Breath Away,” and John Deacon’s uncommon acoustic guitar playing on his “You And I.”
Those first five Queen records are undeniable. While there is certainly a progression from album to album, they were a world-class band from the beginning. It may have taken the world a couple of years to catch on, but it was definitely there. The Hollywood Records label has just launched a massive reissue campaign of the Queen catalog, beginning with these first five albums. The way they are doing it may makes this the most significant program of the year.
First of all there is the care that has been taken in the remastering process. The art of this highly-touted, yet previously disappointing aspect of the CD transfer has finally grown into its own. Through the work of dedicated and very talented engineers, the old days of just switching over the old tapes to aluminum discs has ended. Great care has been taken to balance out the highs and lows, to provide the warmth and ambience so well remembered from the analog days. This has obviously been the most difficult part of the task to get right, but one can really hear it with these 2011 editions.