Queen's fifth studio album was the first to be self-produced by the band as the preceding four LPs were co-produced with Roy Thomas Baker. The album followed its predecessor A Night At The Opera in taking its name from a film by the Marx Brothers. It was released in December 1976 and peaked at No. 1 in the UK. In America, issued a week later, it reached No. 5 on the US Billboard album chart and became Queen's first American album to achieve Gold status – and subsequently Platinum-certification.
Like A Night At The Opera – which many think of as its sister album - A Day At The Races is wonderfully diverse on all levels, exploring all kinds of musical styles and genres; from the heavy "Tie Your Mother Down" and "White Man," to Mercury's delicate "You Take My Breath Away" and Deacon's "You And I." It has been stated many times over the years, by Brian and Roger mostly, that the band saw this album more a less a continuation of the previous LP. Indeed, so much so, that the two might even have been released simultaneously. A Day At The Races captures Queen at a highly inventive and motivated period. All four members are writing and creating at a furious rate and within four months they produced several of their most acclaimed recordings, best loved singles, and, in the minds of many, one of their finest and most complete albums.
Mercury's "Somebody to Love," among the best known Queen songs of all, was to become the biggest single of the album. It was also its author's most favorite of his own compositions at the time. Like "Bohemian Rhapsody," this recording features complex layered vocal tracks, though this time based on a gospel choir arrangement; a combination of Freddie, Brian and Roger's multi-tracked voices to achieve the impression of a 100-voice gospel choir. It is staggering to think that the colossal choirs on this recording could have been produced from just three voices, but that is certainly the case. The various band members stated many times that it's purely good fortunate and luck that the three voices merge so wonderfully together to provide such a distinctive part of the Queen sound.