Release date: 10 December 1976
UK chart peak: #1
Running time: 44:24
Singles: Somebody to Love (#2), Tie Your Mother Down (#31), Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy (#17)
Following on from smash hit A Night At The Opera, Queen’s 1976 album hit the top ten in most countries: #8 in Australia, Austria & Sweden, #1 in the Netherlands & Japan, #3 in Norway, #4 inCanada, #5 in the USA, and #10 in West Germany.
At this point in the 70s, disco was riding high – as was ABBAmania. Later on in the year, punk started its emergence. In the UK album charts around the time A Day At The Races was releases, Stevie Wonder was celebrating a top ten with Songs in the Key of Life, as was Max Bygraves (100 Golden Greats). Showaddywaddy scored a number one single with Under The Moon Of Love, and Johnny Mathis reached the top ten with A Child Is Born.
The band were riding high from their make-or-break success the previous year, and followed in the footsteps of The Rolling Stones by putting on a free concert in Hyde Park – at the height of that summer’s drought, Freddie invited the audience to join them in a “picnic by the Serpentine”. Aptly, the album launch was celebrated with a day at Kempton Park racecourse.
As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a weak link on this album. It’s perhaps natural to compare and contrast it with A Night At The Opera, with them being the so-called ‘Marx brothers’ albums, and both have similar baroque rock overtones – though if you pushed me to pick a favourite, it would have to be this one. Queen’s sound is clearly defined here; it doesn’t make all the songs sound the same, rather draws them all together and allows them to flow from track one to track ten.
I could pick every single track as a standout, but that’s definitely a cop out! Somebody to Love is an obvious pick (*whispers* better than Bohemian Rhapsody?), John Deacon’s You And I is a lovely number with a real driving bass line. Roger Taylor comes up trumps again with Drowse, and Long Away by Brian May is another favourite. And I can’t not mention The Millionaire Waltz; another Bo Rhap successor – perhaps even more so than Somebody to Love, thanks to its grandiose nature.
Let Me Entertain You
The band went out on the Day At The Races Tour (also known as the Jubilee Tour and World Tour ’77) in support of the album; they played 59 shows across two legs (40 in North America, 19 in Europe) – it ran from 13 January until 7 June 1977. Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Head East, and The Outlaws were the support acts enlisted for these dates.