QUEEN — Queen II

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QUEEN - Queen II cover
4.46 | 56 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1974

Filed under Proto-Metal
By QUEEN

Tracklist

1. Procession (1:12)
2. Father To Son (6:14)
3. White Queen (As It Began) (4:36)
4. Some Day One Day (4:22)
5. The Loser In The End (4:03)
6. Ogre Battle (4:08)
7. The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke (2:41)
8. Nevermore (1:18)
9. The March Of The Black Queen (6:33)
10. Funny How Love Is (2:50)
11. Seven Seas Of Rhye (2:49)

Total Time 40:50

Line-up/Musicians

- Freddie Mercury / vocals, piano, harpsichord
- Brian May / guitars, bells, vocals, piano, organ
- Roger Taylor / drums, gong, marimba, vocals
- John Deacon / bass guitar, acoustic guitar

- Roy Thomas Baker / castanets, stylophone (track 7, 11)
- Robin Cable / piano effects (track 8)

About this release

8 March 1974
EMI

Reissued in 1991 with the following bonus tracks:

1. See What A Fool I've Been (4:32)
2. Ogre Battle (remix, 1991) (3:27)
3. Seven Seas Of Rhye (remix, 1991) (6:35)

Reissued in 2011 by Universal Records with a bonus disc with the following tracklist:

1. See What A Fool I've Been (BBC Session, July, 1973) (remix 2011) (4:22)
2. White Queen (As It Began) (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, December, 1975) (5:32)
3. Seven Seas Of Rhye (instrumental mix) (3:09)
4. Nevermore (BBC Session, April, 1974) (1:27)
5. See What A Fool I've Been (b-side version, February, 1974) (4:31)

Reissued in 2011 by iTunes with the following videos:

6. White Queen (As It Began) (Live At The Rainbow, 1974)
7. Seven Seas Of Rhye (Live At Wembley Stadium, 1986)
8. Ogre Battle (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, 1975)

Thanks to Time Signature, umur, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates

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QUEEN QUEEN II reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
While QUEEN has become one of the most respected and loved rock bands of all time, the first two albums don’t seem to receive nearly as much admiration as the blockbuster mega-hits of “Night At The Opera” and “Sheer Heart Attack,” however despite the debut not being quite as popular in more esoteric circles, QUEEN II definitely hits a high note in both the hard rock and prog crowds for its clever advanced musical developments from QUEEN I. Despite no catchy hit like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” QUEEN II is nevertheless a primo album experience that found the band riding the momentum from their first album tour and finding a new musical mojo with producers Roy Baker and Robin Cable adding all the art rock sensibilities to QUEEN’s already flamboyant take on hard glam rock of the early 70s.

While often thought of as a concept album of sort, QUEEN II is more of a collection of tracks that flow nicely together with “Side White” mostly composed by guitarist Brian May and “Side Black” constructed by Freddie Mercury with his larger than life fantasy worlds coming to full life and decorated by his signature piano playing style. QUEEN II offered a leap in production techniques which found catchy multi-layered overdubs that would become the band’s trademark as well as the more varied and textured vocal harmonies that were progressively strewn together with musical styles that amplify the energetic hard rock performances. This all finds the band performing not only one of their most heavy of albums but also their most majestic with intricate melodies slinking around and stitching together loose themes and heavy beats that is all graced with the famous album cover that band would use for their entire career in videos and advertising purposes.

The album begins with “Procession” which is a short funeral march displaying May’s famous multi-guitar track techniques but quickly morphs into “Father To Son” which finds Freddie Mercury upping his game with the more sophisticated piano tinkling that revolves around May’s heavy guitar bombast that he magically creates through his famous series of different amps and gear. Drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon are not only on top of their game instrumentally but the whole team is smoking hot with their some of their most intricately designed vocal harmonies that the quartet has ever pulled off. In addition to the standard rock instruments there are tons of acoustic guitar parts, harpsichord, bells, marimba and various percussive instruments. When all is said and done, QUEEN II finds the bombast of early heavy metal trading off with classically inspired piano riffs and Medieval folk sounding segments that are all teased out in a rich tapestry of progressive time signatures and art rock sensibilities.

While “Side White” showcases May’s contributions, “Side Black” finds Freddie Mercury letting loose like he never did on QUEEN I. One of his earliest songs that dated to 1971, “Ogre Battle” found Mercury expanding his vocal talents as well with dramatic screams, passionate heart-felt lyrical deliveries and a knack for his flawless high pitched vocals segueing into falsetto and back. While every track is stellar, the album’s absolute pinnacle of creativity and peak performance surely belongs to “The March Of The Black Queen,” which displays an early similarity to Mercury’s most outrageous track “Bohemian Rhapsody” as it shares not only a similar piano run but also the progressive complexities that include dueling polyrhythms in 8/8 and 12/8 time signatures with all the dramatic flair that would make QUEEN one of the most successful bands of the entire 70s.

While QUEEN II may lack the instantly sugary sweet addicting qualities of future albums, for those who have more refined tastes and crave a more subtle mix of savory, acrid and salty with their sucrose, QUEEN II is the absolute pinnacle of the band’s career with a sophistication of a progressive rock band without sacrificing the melodic driven developments that flashy virtuosic playing tended to sacrifice during the prog era. Luckily the decades that have passed have allowed future fans to learn to appreciate this second album by the legendary band whose goal was not only to rock your world but to take you on an unexpected journey along the way. While i’m a fan of pretty much all the 70s albums that QUEEN released before they stagnated into a world of mediocrity, QUEEN II remains at the top of my list for most cleverly designed and compositionally perfect albums of their entire canon. This was the album that opened the magic gates to the new kingdom where they would wear the crown for the rest of the decade.
Necrotica
I like to see progressive rock epics and albums as rock's own answer to classical symphonies and suites... complex, multifaceted, and brimming with technical skill. With the help of bands like Kansas, Genesis, Yes, and whoever else gets categorized in so-called "symphonic prog," 70s prog was able to be played on heavy rotation by those who didn't want to listen to the more simplistic forms of rock at the time. However, 70s-era Queen were always of a different breed. Yes, their music was complex. Yes, it was multifaceted. Yes, it contained varying time signatures. But what was so different? What really stood out? The charisma and bombast.

Freddie Mercury and co. were one of the very few acts to marry the complexity of prog with the mainstream success and streamlined nature of pop almost perfectly, something even Supertramp couldn't fully pull off (but they tried their best, that's for sure). "Queen" is such a fitting name for a group who could pull off pomp and eccentricity with such elegance and taste... and of course, there's the eclectic genre-bending involved as well. The band tried ragtime, hard rock, classical, jazz, gospel, metal, you name it. Oh sure, it felt a bit forced and out-of-control on occasion, but you can't really blame a band who are trying to expand the normal confines of hard rock. But here's the craziest thing: the album that only began to develop Queen's signature sound also happened to be one of their very best... perhaps their best, in fact. That, my friends, is Queen II.

Make no mistake, this is a full-fledged progressive rock album. Multitracked vocal harmonies run rampant, time signatures change quite frequently, and the band's signature stylistic shifts are here in full-form. Right from the dark funeral-like guitar overdubs of "Procession," you know you're in for a pretty unusual record from the get go; even more unique is the way the band had set up this epic album. First is Brian May's "white" side of the album which focuses on more beautiful and light tunes, whereas Mercury's "black" side is absolutely warped, outrageously bombastic, and extremely dark. With that said, let's just say that you shouldn't expect a whole lotta camp from this one like in later Queen works. Most of the material here replaces the band's usual humor and lightheartedness with more dramatic lyricism, much of it focusing on fantasy-influenced storytelling. Expect a dark record through and through, basically.

Aside from that, though, the real draw is in how well everyone in the band works in tandem with each other. John Deacon's bass perfectly compliments Freddie's piano playing in the somber "Nevermore," just like how Brian May's heavy guitar riffing and Roger Taylor's hollow and rough drum sound are a great fit in a hard-hitting song like "The Loser in the End." There's a genuine chemistry between the band members, something that seemed so powerful even in this phase of their career. Also, this is the first album in which the group's layered vocal harmonies came into high prominence, and they couldn't feel more welcome with the grandiose arrangements. The slow buildup in "Ogre Battle" leads into an incredibly loud burst of vocal bombast that has to be heard to be believed, and "March of the Black Queen"'s use of counterpoint brings out many highlights of this nature as well. That's not to say there aren't poppier or more tightly packed arrangements on here as well, as "Seven Seas of Rhye" and "Funny How Love Is" can prove, and these are placed right at the end to bring an optimistic end to a beautifully dark journey.

If Queen's debut was their set of musical blueprints, this is the towering skyscraper they were arranged to construct... and indeed it towers over most of its contemporaries, progressive rock or otherwise. It's beautiful, brutal, dark, florid, complex, and everything in between. But above all, it's simply a masterpiece. The combination of instrumental prowess and emotional depth is breathtaking... and to think that this was only the band's second record! It was clear that Queen's future would be bright, but it's cool to know that they had already mastered their craft early on; in any case, get this. I don't care if you enjoy rock, pop, classical, jazz, whatever. Just get this.
UMUR
As the title suggests, "Queen II" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK rock act Queen. The album was released through Parlophone/Elektra in March 1974.

The music on the album sits somewhere between theatrical rock, progressive rock and hard rock. A really eclectic mix of music styles and ideas. The musicianship is outstanding throughout the album. Convincing and adventurous instrumental delivery by all involved and "out of this world" vocals by lead vocalist Freddie Mercury. His lead vocals are flat out fantastic, but it´s the multi layered harmony vocals that really put the icing on the cake. The only other group I can think of who did something just nearly as flamboyant and challenging around the same time is 10cc (I guess I should mention Gentle Giant too). When you add to that a powerful organic sound production and very well written compositions such as "Father to Son", "White Queen (As it Began)", "Ogre Battle", "The March of the Black Queen" and "Seven Seas of Rhye" it all come together nicely and form a rare and unique musical experience. The Roger Taylor led "The Loser in the End" is a real hard rocker and somewhat different from the other material on the album, but it´s a real treat to my ears.

While I enjoyed the debut album by Queen, that album completely pales in comparison with "Queen II". "Queen II" has a great flow and a vision, a musical red thread so to speak. If you like your rock delivered with a theatrical paatos and a progressive edge "Queen II" is a great release and I think a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is fully deserved.
AtomicCrimsonRush
When the white queen and the black queen collide...

'Queen 2' is a very strong rocking album with shades of light and dark and some of Queen's best material. After the 'Procession' heralds the entry of Queen the heavy riffing 'Father to Son' blazes away. It features the trademark harmonies, Mercury's provocative crooning and Mays scorching guitar solos. The track segues seamlessly to 'White Queen (As It Began)' which is a proggy thing that has many sections beginning with a quiet minimalism, Mercury and acoustic guitar. At the sound of a gong a gentle melodic guitar picking figure carries Mercury's voice along and harmonies swell in at the chorus, lifting the mood. The lyrics are about the sadness of the lonely Queen: 'needing, unheard, pleading, one word, so sad my eyes, she cannot see, how did thee fare, what have thee seen, the mother of the willow green, I call her name, and 'neath her window have I stayed, I loved the footsteps that she made, and when she came, white queen how my heart did ache, and dry my lips no word would make.' An eastern sitar changes the atmosphere, feeling very psychedelic and mystical at this stage. A great track found only on this album.

Other highlights of the album include 'Loser in the End' with a backbeat feel and very cool guitar licks. The sound is vintage Queen, nothing like their 80s hit singles and quite surprising.

'Ogre Battle' has a wind effect that swells up with backmasked guitar riffing and is as prog as the band were going to get. The riff is fast and angular, the lyrics are a fable of medieval storytelling in prog style: 'The ogre men are still inside, The two way mirror mountain, You gotta keep down Right out of sight, You can't see in but they can see out, Keep a look out, The ogre men are coming out from the two way mirror mountain, They're running up behind, And they're coming all about, Can't go east 'cause you gotta go south.' I love the way Mercury delivers these lines. And the ending is terrific with battle effects.

The next track, 'Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke' continues from this track that has set the scene, Mercury continues to tell the epic tale and this merges without interruption into the balladic 'Nevermore'. The best and proggiest track on the album is the gate crashing 'March of the Black Queen', one of the longest Queen tracks at 6 minutes, it begins with heartfelt harmonies. A killer chorus heralds the entrance of the Black Queen, with a very catchy melody. The multi layered harmonies and song structure are hyper complex. The piano and guitar trade off intricate time signatures and it builds to a crescendo until Mercury is given space to quietly sing remember to deliver with the speed of light... everything you do there's a will and a why... a little bit of love and joy.' The time sig shifts tempo and a faster pace locks in as the next verse is pounded out. The lead break is overshadowed by lyrics of strong conviction, bombastic and pomp rock at its highest level but Queen did it like no other. Mercury sings triumphantly 'Now it's time to be gone forever'. The track segues instantly into 'Funny How Love Is' which sounds psychedelic.

'Seven Seas of Rhye' is another very famous track, perhaps the most well known from this album. It is a quirky very well structured piece that moves in many directions. Mercury sings the lyrics with a self importance that is quintessential Queen: 'fear me you lords and lady preachers, I descend upon your earth from the skies, I command your very souls you unbelievers, bring before me what is mine, the seven seas of rhye, can you hear me you peers and privvy counsellors, I stand before you naked to the eyes, I will destroy any man who dares abuse my trust, I swear that you'll be mine the seven seas of rhye.' The lead break in this track is simply astonishing. The lyrics are perhaps a precursor to 'Flash' that the band would become involved with in the 80s; 'storm the master-marathon I'll fly through, by flash and thunder-fire I'll survive, then I'll defy the laws of nature and come out alive.' You have to hand it to Queen to finish their album on such a bombastic note but it is a great way to finish.

So there you have it, not as good as 'Sheer Heart Attack' but 1974 was a strong rock year and this is a strong Queen album, defiantly putting their 80s material to shame. When they were hot they were hot. 4 shining musicians, 4 glittering stars.

Warthur
Another strong album from Queen, oozing bombast and reverb from every pore. The first five or so songs ("Side White" on the vinyl) consist mostly of songs composed by Brian May (with one Roger Deacon song at the end of the side), with mainly emotional and passionate topics of one sort or another; the second half ("Side Black") consists of six heavy prog tracks written by Freddie Mercury, who indulges his love of fantasy to the hilt - many of the songs revolve around the world of Rhye, a Middle Earth-style fantasy world created by Mercury. One of the more prog- friendly Queen albums, Queen II should win over even sceptics to Queen's heavy glam rock approach.

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