Vinyl Me, Please November Edition: Queen ‘A Night At The Opera’
Good things come in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, Vinyl Me, Please operates under a simple philosophy: The Album Lives. With a carefully curated catalog of new and hard to find releases, the subscription service is more than just a record club…it’s a lifestyle choice for folks who wish Record Store Day could happen every month. In their living room.
Here’s how it works. You send Vinyl Me, Please some of your hard-earned money (plans start at $27/month) and they send you one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Easy, right? Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) also comes with special features like original artwork and even a recipe for a companion cocktail. You’ll have membership privileges in the VMP shop, which means you can grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including their VMP Classics Selection of Little Milton’s Stax Records debut, Waiting for Little Milton – not to mention a bevy of rare and exclusive releases. The store is now open. It’s chock full of sexy new discs that need a loving home. And Team VMP are dropping fresh new selections to their stock every single week. Do not miss out.
Whatever styles or artists or limited edition pressings you’re looking for, you’re bound to find something in the VMP Store. While the store is open to the public, many of the more covet-worthy selections are only available to members, so you’ve gotta sign up to get your mitts on them. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection over to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you don’t like for a past AOM (or other VMP Exclusive pressings) that’s a little more your speed. My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.
So, what’s in November’s box? Well, I hope you brought your opera glasses, ’cause that’s where classic rock icons Queen are taking us with VMP’s Essentials pick A Night At The Opera.
Now, pay particular attention to that cover art, because it’s the main reason (coupled with a lengthy shipping delay from the USPS) you’re getting the November unboxing in late December. Per the head honchos at Vinyl Me Please, when initial pressings of their A Night At The Opera reissue arrived at warehouses for shipping, there was a printing mistake discovered which had left the entire logo a full inch higher than intended on the cover.
Now, the folks at VMP could’ve gambled that most of us wouldn’t notice the difference, and shipped the records as they were (and given the massive delay that would accompany a reprint who could blame them if they had), but that’s not what Vinyl Me Please is all about. In fact, attention to even the smallest of details is one of the things that VMP members have grown to adore about the company. Rather than ship out a less than flawless copy of this Queen classic, the VMP brass chose to reprint covers and get new copies of the album out ASAP. The good news is, that their lavish reissue of A Night At The Opera is finally reaching vinyl lovers everywhere, and it’s absolutely a sight (and sound) to behold.
For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or, how I learned that lovin’ opera ain’t easy, but Queen makes it necessary)
By the summer of 1975, the power pop/rock outfit known as Queen (Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, and fronted by the legendary Freddie Mercury) had already released three albums proper, and had a legitimate hit record in 1974’s landmark release, Sheer Heart Attack. In spite of that success, a particularly artist-unfriendly record deal had also left the band flat broke and at a creative crossroads that essentially marked their followup album a make or break proposition. Determined to give everything they had to said album, Queen went into and began work on their most ambitious recording yet. A recording that saw Freddie and The Boys take an anything goes approach to songwriting that left little room for the sort of radio friendly hits they needed.
That approach was risky to say the least. Somehow Queen made it work, embracing their inner diva and employing complex recording techniques to deliver a sprawling, wildly eclectic collection of songs that range from tawdry c**k-rockers and vaudevillian folk songs to tender ballads and operatic, proto-prog rock anthems that seemed to push the boundaries of rock ‘n roll beyond even Queen’s wildest dreams. Released in the fall of 1975, and cheekily titled A Night At The Opera (after the Marx Bros. film of the same name), it was the album Queen was born to make, and it was an album only Queen could.
In spite of a decidedly lukewarm critical reception upon its release, A Night At The Opera topped UK album charts for a total of four weeks, became a platinum seller in the U.S., provided the band’s first number one hit single in the gonzo (Wayne & Garth approved) rock-opus “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and is today regarded one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.
To be frank, that A Night At The Opera contains “Bohemian Rhapsody” alone would seem to qualify it as one of the greatest albums ever recorded. More than any other song in their catalogue, that one most expressly represents what made Queen such a unique and important band in rock history. That A Night At The Opera also contains a handful of other Queen staples like “Death On Two Legs,” and “You’re My Best Friend,” and “Love Of My Life” only cements the fact that the album will always be regarded as one of the all-time greats.
It’s a safe bet that you’re already aware of that fact, because – even if A Night At The Opera isn’t the album that brought Queen to the mainstream and ushered them into the company of the greats – it’s the album that ensured they’d stay there, and it’s also the album that guaranteed Freddie Mercury would go down as one of the most iconic frontmen in rock history. That being said, we’d also wager that you do not, in fact, own a copy of A Night At The Opera. Just FYI – you really, really should. And if it’s at all possible, you should own this jaw-droppingly sexy new Vinyl Me, Please pressing, ’cause it’s likely to become the end all be all of Queen reissues.
A Night At The Opera is a larger than life sort of album. Queen was very much aware of that fact. Rather than have outlandish cover art that might detract from the music, they took a low-key approach, opting to feature their logo (designed by Freddie Mercury based on the astrological signs of each band member) and a classy bit of lettering. Take note of the sexy blue foiling used in that lettering, though. It’s exclusive to this pressing, and as I stated earlier, if there’s one thing you can count on with a VMP release, it’s the attention to detail.
Speaking of details, let’s take not of a couple of things before we get into that slick gatefold sleeve. Like the info on this little sticker here. 180gm repress on colored wax. Heavyweight Tip-On sleeve. Recut at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. These are not exactly minor details, folks.
Nor is the foil stamped VMP Essentials on the back cover, which is printed in the same blue as the front.
Now, once you’ve got the album out of the fancy, resealable protective sleeve, you’ll want to spend a moment or two with the little OBI strip hanging onto the spine, ’cause there’s some vital information on it.
Like the album name, band name and the VMP catalogue number for this release.
There’s a wee bit of info about why A Night At The Opera was selected as an Essentials pick on there as well, not that you should’ve needed an explanation.
And if you like to have a cocktail while spinning your records, there’s an album inspired mix inside there as well. It’s called a “Death on Two Legs.” It was conjured by the folks at Milkboy on South Street in Philadelphia (which I can tell you from experience is a first-rate establishment). And it features Bourbon, so it’s bound to be tasty.
One of the great things about Vinyl Me, Please’s Essentials is that they not only come with a companion cocktail, but they also come with an original, album inspired art print that you cannot get anywhere else. This little beauty comes from a NY-based graphic designer by the name of Megan Bowker.
Ok, did I already mention that this reissue comes housed in a slick gatefold sleeve? It does. And that gatefold features liner notes and lyrics for every track on A Night At The Opera.
Not to mention these killer photos of boys in the band … and their equally killer haircuts.
Dig into that gatefold and you’ll find more awesome photos of the band in all their on-stage glory on the inner dust sleeve.
Maybe take a quick moment to notice that the inside of that gatefold sleeve is pink as well … since we’ve been talking about details and all.
What about the wax, you ask? It’s galaxy colored. It’s absolutely glorious.
And it’s certain to have you over the moon spinning round and round your turntable.
How’s it sound? Like spending a night at the opera, obviously. Only this opera has guitars and power ballads about cars and stuff.
Give It a Spin
So, here’s the thing about Queen: everybody loves like a dozen or so of their songs, and therefore everybody claims to love Queen. But if you went round and asked a dozen vinyl freaks (like myself) which Queen albums they have in their collection, they’d probably answer they didn’t have any (like myself). Always eager to fill even the smallest void in every member’s record collection, the folks at Vinyl Me, Please identified that need and did something about it.
They happened to fill that void with the one absolutely Essential Queen release in November’s AOM A Night At The Opera. It may not have arrived until late December, but it was well worth the wait, and you’d better believe that I will be spinning this little stunner well beyond the holiday season. Thanks to Vinyl Me, Please for giving me the chance to rediscover this classic the way it was meant to be heard, and for making every month another musical adventure!
A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the official Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each and every month! Stay tuned for December unboxing that’ll feature more crunchy goodies from team Vinyl Me, Please!