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Reviews > Queen Music Reviews > 01-20-1977 - A Day at the Races - Winnipeg Free Press


by ROBERT HILBURN


It's important in rock to know when to move to new musical ground and when to stick with what you've got. By staying close to the perimeters of last year's hugely successful A Night at the Opera, Queen has another massive bestseller in A Day at the Races. David Bowie could benefit from Queen's counsel. Low, Bowie's latest change of direction, adds to the Englishman's colorful, elusive persona, but the album's icy disorienting Kraftwerk Meets Eno experimentals rock leaves me wanting less persona and more music. Bowie's popularity will push Low.into the Top 10 alongside A Day at the Races, but its stay there should be brief.

Queen's A Day at the Races (Elektra 6E 101) — from the start, Queen has aimed high. "You have to have a lot of confidence in this business." said the group's lead singer Freddie Mercury after the band's first hit in 1973.

"It's useless saying to yourself, 'Maybe I'm not good enough, maybe I'd better settle for second place'. "The whole group aimed for the top spot. We're not going to be content with anything else."

Last year's A Night at the Opera album — the group's fourth — finally gave Queen its shot at superstardom. Opera spent 47 weeks on the national sales charts, spawned two hit singles and showed the band capable of both the high energy of Led Zeppelin and its own wonderfully eccentric pieces such as Bohemian Rhapsody. Realizing the impact of the album, the stylish English quartet has reprogrammed much of the variety and charm of Opera in its new collection. The cover art work is similar, the title again is from a Marx Brothers film and the music even begins with the gong sound that closed Bohemian Rhapsody.

There are similarities, too, in the songs. The Millionaire Waltz recalls the ambition and pose of Bohemian Rhapsody; White Man has much of the guitar bravado of The Prophet's Song: You and I suggests the diarming romantic charm of You're My Best Friend.

While this reliance on familiar strains puts Races in the shadow of Opera, the band has approached the individual tracks with a care and skill that gives them their own personality and punch. More than-simply a repeat, of its last work. Races is a reconfirmation of Queen's position as the best of the third wave of English rock groups.