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Articles Home » 1974 Articles » Queen - 1974 Queen II
 
Queen - 1974 Queen II



ARTIST: Queen
ALBUM: Queen II
LABEL: EMI
SERIAL: EMA 767
YEAR: 1974
CD REISSUE: 1986, EMI, CDP 7 46205 2 * 2011 Island/Universal 276 425 00 * plus various other reissues..

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Freddie Mercury - backing vocals, piano, harpsichord, string piano on 'Nevermore' * Brian May - electric and acoustic guitars, bells on 'The March Of The Black Queen', lead vocals on 'Some Day One Day', backing vocals, piano and organ on 'Father To Son' * Roger Taylor - drums, gong, marimba, backing vocals, additional vocals on one line of 'The March Of The Black Queen', lead vocals on 'The Loser In The End' * John Deacon - bass guitar, acoustic guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 Procession * 02 Father To Son * 03 White Queen (As It Began) * 04 Some Day One Day * 05 The Loser In The End * 06 Ogre Battle * 07 The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke * 08 Nevermore * 09 The March Of The Black Queen * 10 Funny How Love Is * 11 The Seven Seas Of Rhye

WEBLINKS: www.queenonline.com


Background
Released against the backdrop of the 3 day week, power shortages and political unrest in the UK, 'Queen II' was (for this reviewer at least) a shining beacon on an otherwise bleak landscape. This follow up to the poor selling debut album of '73, saw the bands creative imagination explode with ideas in terms of arrangements, song writing and performance which I believe has never been bettered. With this album Queen created a dark, complex majestic rock masterpiece. In fact the band put so much into this record that they even considered calling the album 'Over The Top'. Queen II went on to be the band's first Top 10 album in the UK and paved the way for greater success which I'm sure every reader of this piece will be more than aware of.


The Songs
Rather than the orthodox naming of sides 1 and 2 the album is split using Side White and Side Black, and is loosely conceptual in nature (good vs. evil) with Side White being written by Brian May (with the exception of 'Loser In The end' which was written by drummer Roger Taylor.), and Side Black written entirely by Freddie Mercury. The songs offer up a dense tapestry weaved by musicians who were not afraid to experiment and, befitting Queen, indulge themselves in creating some of the greatest songs committed to vinyl. Lyrically the album is of its time with imagery such as misty castles, queens, ogres and fairies dominating proceedings.

Side White starts the album with the short but stately 'Procession' with layers of Brian May's guitars before the band burst into 'Father To Son' a cacophony of beautiful noise which highlights May's guitar playing and the band's unique vision.. stacked harmonies, layered instrumentation before ending with a gorgeous coda and segueing into the ethereal ballad 'White Queen'. Here the band shows off a more tender side and in particular Roger Taylor's drumming being wonderfully understated and a lovely vocal by Freddie Mercury. Next up is 'Some Day One Day' featuring Brian May on lead vocals which offers up an acoustic based ballad displaying a tender, light feel which Queen have excelled at many times. Side White closes with Roger Taylor's sole composition the aforementioned 'Loser In The end' a delightful Who like romp with Taylor's trademark vocals used to great effect.

Side Black is a side long suite which has (to my ears) no equal, the songs, production, playing is of the upmost quality. 'Orge Battle' is Queen doing Proto Thrash, guitars wail and vocals scream.. possibly the heaviest track that Queen ever recorded. 'The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke' is a song inspired by the Richard Dadd painting of the same name and like the painting it is an intricate work of art, with fantastical lyrics, dense overlaid harmonies and harpsichord!!. 'Nevermore' is a short tender piano led ballad before breaking into the album's centrepiece 'The March Of The Black Queen' which at six and a half minutes long crams in so many time changes and different sections it makes 'Bohemian Rhapsody' look positively straight forward!.. This is Queen at their most inventive, this song alone sums up (for me at least) Queens' uniqueness.'Funny How Love Is' is a gorgeous Phil Spector inspired song with its wall of sound production and again layered harmonies and if all this wasn't enough the album finishes off with the adrenalin rush that is 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' all pomp and circumstance and gave the wider UK public their first taste of Queen courtesy of some memorable performances on 'Top Of The Pops' and giving Queen their first top 10 hit.


In Summary
I make no apologies for the hyperbole regarding this album. From the Iconic Mick Rock artwork to the OTT production of Roy Thomas Baker this album for me has never been bettered, at the tender age of 15 hearing this album proved somewhat of an epiphany, it started me on a musical journey that has lasted to this very day. Queen 'lost' me somewhat after 'News Of The World' as my tastes turned to the pomp/AOR bands from the USA, the bombast and layered harmonies of Queen can be hear in many a late 70's/early 80's pomp/AOR bands i.e. Styx, New England etc, and their influence is still heard today. If I was asked to take only one album to my desert island with me without hesitation this would be it. If you only know Queen from their many hit singles give this album a listen and be prepared to be astonished.


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Comments
#1 | gdazegod on December 24 2013 00:37:25
Superb review Malcolm! It's like you were there.. and in fact, you were!
#2 | machoman on December 24 2013 08:52:43
I wouldn't have said it better. Explorer, my experience with Queen and this album is similar to yours, as are my leanings to pomp à la Styx, New England and so on. Great review... and you're right, everybody knowing Queen from their singles should listen to this album.
#3 | richardb on December 24 2013 09:21:33
Great review and this is one of my favourite Queen Albums.

I started with Queen (at a very tender age) and also graduated into Styx, Trillion etc later on...

I wonder how many other pomp rock lovers started on the same musical journey?..
#4 | Explorer on December 24 2013 10:43:53
Thanks for the kind words gents.Queen will always hold a special place for me as they were my first live experience,supporting Mott the Hoople late 73...I`m showing my age here!
#5 | Eric on December 24 2013 19:38:35
They are the reason I've been involved with music and fostered my life-long passion for the 'artier' side of rock. 'II' is a monument to the creative possibilities of all things 'ard n' 'evy and there's been nothing quite like it since.
#6 | englandashes on December 24 2013 22:41:17
Yep, many a time I have started writing an article for this album, but I just couldn't do it justice. It's my favourite album of all time, and totally agree with Malcolm, that side black is immense, March of the Black Queen is epic, saw a documentary where they showed working on this in the studio. Side Black just flows, Orge, Master Stroke, Nevermore etc....everyone might as well pack up and good home.

The timing is perfect, anyone remember the Xmas concerts, is the longer serving programme on my sky box!

Malcolm, you have describe this album perfectly, excellent!
#7 | Explorer on January 04 2014 19:52:09
Playing the album again right now.....this piece of music is 40 years old....Incredible...just thought I`d mention it.
#8 | dude24 on February 16 2014 18:05:48
Queen was way ahead of the times with I and II. Moments of heavy metal, hard rock, progressive rock and pop all blended together. Also, incredibly melodic.
#9 | Explorer on February 27 2014 19:06:29
This month`s Classic Rock (March) covers the making of this magnificent album in depth on this it`s 40th anniversary.
#10 | englandashes on August 16 2015 23:40:16
Been listening to the 2011 reissue on my ipod, and have notice how they have removed a number of screams, musical interludes to march of the black queen tune, which is basically my best tune, and its bloody annoying, anyone else notice it, of course i could highlight the exact parts and timings, but at the moment i am on my second, or maybe third stella, but even so, its just not right.
#11 | Explorer on August 17 2015 16:53:03
I`ve now played quite a few versions of 'Black Queen', 1974 Vinyl, the original UK EMI CD, the EMI Fame reissue, the US Hollywood Records version, 2 Japanese EMI Toshiba versions as well as the 2011 remaster AND the version on the 'Deep cuts' CD. The 2011 remaster does have some differences in Panning (I think that`s what it called, I`m no audiophile unfortunately) which does lend to a slightly different listen, but I can't hear any other changes. The early CD versions have the song ended on 6:03 with the last verse of Black Queen being used as the intro of 'Funny' which is of course wrong, whereas the later versions have the song going through to its full length of 6:33 and ending on the screams going into the castanets of 'Funny how love is'. The Deep cuts version is unique as it ends on a slightly extended Roger Taylor scream and that`s it with no sight or sound of 'Funny' anywhere. Enjoyable research as it allowed me to hear this totally awesome piece of music multiple times...How many Stellas???
#12 | englandashes on August 17 2015 21:07:20
Hi Malcolm, excellent, i admire your tenacity, actually i have the deep cuts so going to listen to that more closely. You have given me an incentive to tie down and explain in more detail what i seem to feel is missing, i have been comparing the 2011 release with my old vinyl, but will check deep cuts and the old dutch? Cd release. Stellas, well 2 and a half, i brought some stubby cans by mistake, what is the point of stubby cans, is it an Australian thing?
Again many thanks Malcolm, that side of music is in my opinion the best ever!
#13 | Explorer on August 17 2015 21:22:03
I'll keep listening to see if I can hear any differences, my ears aren't what they used to be!. I see there is a new set of vinyl reissues coming out, so I will be getting Queen II AGAIN, that'll make it (I think) 18 different versions...I'm still after the 8 track though.
#14 | gdazegod on August 18 2015 00:10:01
'A Night At The Opera' is strangely missing from the hallowed halls of GDM.. hmm!
#15 | Explorer on October 01 2015 12:44:09
Just had to get myself my 19th copy of Queen II, this time on 180 gram vinyl, and very nice it is too. Virgin/Universal have done a great job on it, far better than the last EMI vinyl effort which was terrible both in terms of sound and packaging.
#16 | Nick C on October 01 2015 18:13:37
Grin
#17 | Explorer on November 01 2015 08:55:57
This is a bit good.

YouTube Video:
#18 | reyno-roxx on June 06 2016 22:36:35
Angel used to cover 'Father To Son' before they got signed.
#19 | Explorer on June 06 2016 22:41:50
Now that I'd love to hear!. I knew that Greg was a fan as he was wearing a Queen T shirt on the 1st album insert.
 
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