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Music / A Day at the Races

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That cover sure looks awfully familiar...

A Day at the Races is the fifth studio album by Queen, released in 1976. It is the direct follow up to their hit album A Night at the Opera. Much like its predecessor, it's named after a Marx Brothers film (in this case, A Day at the Races). Riding off of the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody", the Freddie Mercury penned "Somebody To Love" (Not to be confused with the Jefferson Airplane song of the same name) is the album's most famous song (with "Tie Your Mother Down" at a close second, and "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" is also a hit).



Side One

  1. "Tie Your Mother Down" (4:48)
  2. "You Take My Breath Away" (5:09)
  3. "Long Away" (3:34)
  4. "The Millionaire Waltz" (4:54)
  5. "You and I" (3:25)

Side Two

  1. "Somebody to Love" (4:56)
  2. "White Man" (4:59)
  3. "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" (2:54)
  4. "Drowse" (3:45)
  5. "Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)" (5:50)

Principal Members:

  • John Deacon - bass, guitar
  • Brian May - guitar, backing and lead vocals, plastic piano, harmonium
  • Freddie Mercury - lead vocals, piano
  • Roger Taylor - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals, guitar, timpani, gong


Caaaaannn... anybodyyyyyyy, find meeeee... the tropeeees that this album provides examplesssss... oooffff...

  • Bookends: The album begins and ends with the same Shepard tone made up of a bunch of harmonized guitars looped backwards. Many consider this element of the album the last breath of "early Queen" before the commercialization of albums such as News of the World (Queen) and The Game started to come into play.
  • Epic Rocking: The 5:50 "Teo Torriatte".
  • Grand Finale: "Teo Torriatte" definitely has vibes of this, what with its amassed choir of children, its universally understood message of love, etc.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: "Teo Torriatte" has a Japanese title and a bilingual chorus with both the English and the Japanese lyrics having essentially the same meaning, although it uses a slightly archaic romanisation (and additionally, "Toriatte" is misspelled on the cover of A Day at the Races, although it was spelled correctly for the single the band released in Japan); "手をとりあって" would be more commonly romanised as "Te o Toriatte" these days.
  • In the Style of...: "Somebody to Love" is in the style of Aretha Franklin, of whom Freddie Mercury was a fan.
  • Intercourse with You: The singer of "Tie Your Mother Down" sure would do just about anything to get into his girlfriend's pants. This includes drowning her kid brother.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Somebody to Love" has a hugely iconic one - "Caaaaaannn...?"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Tie Your Mother Down": Frustrated lyrics advocating extreme measures to avoid family interference with a date, sung in big massed choruses to an incredibly upbeat guitar riff.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "The Millionaire Waltz" comes a bit close to averting this with millionaire appearing a few times in the lyrics, but unfortunately that doesn't exactly count.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "Drowse" is a subtle attack at older folks who spend the back half of their lives complaining about children nowadays and how they were so much cooler when they were younger. It works to a surprisingly great effect.
  • Obsession Song: "Somebody to Love", where the protagonist absolutely wants "somebody to love", almost to the point of despair.
    I get down on my knees
    And I start to pray
    Lord - somebody - somebody
    Can anybody find me - somebody to love?
  • One-Man Song: "White Man" and "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy".
  • One-Word Title: "Drowse".
  • The Power of Love: "You Take My Breath Away" and "Somebody to Love" are both songs lamenting how wonderful a certain partner is.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: As confirmed by Freddie himself, all of the backing vocals in "You Take My Breath Away" are just him ...damn.
    • Roger did his own backing vocals on "Drowse". Otherwise the album largely averts this trope. While Freddie dominates the lead vocals (80% of the tracks are sung by him), it's a fairly balanced three-way-split when it comes to harmonies, besides the aforementioned exceptions.
  • Shout-Out: Like the album before it, it's named after a Marx Brothers film.
  • Spiritual Successor: The album can be thought of as a "sequel" to A Night at the Opera. They're both named after Marx Brothers films, the album art is almost exactly the same with a black background rather than white, and many of the songs parallel each other. "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Somebody to Love" or "Teo Torriate", "'39" and "Long Away", "The Prophet's Song" and "White Man", "You're My Best Friend" and "You and I", and very specifically, both albums open with Epic Riff-driven Hard Rock tunes ("Death on Two Legs [Dedicated to...]" and "Tie Your Mother Down").
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Brian May sings lead vocals on "Long Away". Roger Taylor sings lead vocals on "Drowse".
  • Villain Protagonist: "Tie Your Mother Down" seems harmless enough — locking the girl's father out of the house and tying down her mother is one thing — but the line "Take your little brother swimmin' with a brick" pushes it over the line into this.


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