Queen, A Night At The Opera

Not so much revolution as incredible evolution, A Night At The Opera was just a more sophisticated incarnation of the quirkier style first introduced on Sheer Heart Attack — but that doesn't take away from it any. Impossible to categorize and captivating in its variety, "Opera" starts off with one of their most vitriolic rockers ("Death on Two Legs") and immediately veers into bubbly vaudeville with "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon," setting the refreshingly dichotomous and almost satirical feel of the album as riff and rollick alternate all the way to the climax in "Bohemian Rhapsody." Along the way we touch silly gems like "I'm In Love With My Car" and "Seaside Rendezvous," heartfelt offerings like "You're My Best Friend" and "Love of My Life," and even a cerebral slow thinker with "'39." If the album has a sour note anywhere, it's "The Prophet's Song," a heavyhanded 8-minute bender that recalls their early and now understandably less popular quasi-prog days by badly overstaying its welcome; skip that, you lose nothing. Slickly produced and artfully programmed, there's nothing quite like this masterwork in breadth of style or peak of quality, and there's no surprise as to its critical and commercial longevity. God Save the Queen. (Content: harsh language and content in the opening track.)