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Queen - Queen II CD (album) cover




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4.36 | 867 ratings

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4 stars I think this is easily one of the best albums to come out of a great bands rather extensive catalog. Queen II is highly progressive both in terms of conceptualization and musicianship. The album loosely builds around a concept/motif of Light and Dark, Good and Evil etc....with the A side predominantly written by Brian May and revolving around the White Queen thematically and the B side exclusively written by Freddie Mercury and focusing on the Black Queen and its darker imagery. This album is interesting in that it is the initial realization of what would come to be regarded as the archetypical Queen "sound"...extensive use of May's guitar to craft symphonic like elements, bombastic dynamic shifts in song structure, and of course the magnificent vocal over dubs characteristic of so much of the band's later work. The a side opens with an instrumental composition of May's. "Procession" is a rather regal selection of ascending guitar overdubs that certainly sets the tone of the album. It is apparent to the listener from the get-go that the aim of this work is sheer grandeur. The bombastic drumming of Roger Taylor explodes onto the scene and the album properly begins. The first few tracks are well crafted rock songs rather straight forward in conception, but nevertheless indicative of the creative genius of the band as a working unit. They are polished and tight, young musicians just coming into their own as masters of their craft, and displaying the burgeoning audacity to stretch the limitations of contemporary rock. "Father to Son" contains no doubt some of the finest solo's from May's extensive repertoire. Get a mop cause your face might just be melting. The sheer dynamism of this album is extensive as in your face rockers sway softly into the dulcet swoons of Mercury's angelic tones. "White Queen" is a personal favorite of mine. Interesting acoustic guitar tones and some melancholic lyrics are the course of the day, and a beautiful sitar like solo from May lend a truly otherworldy feel to this track. "Ogre Battle" is one of the great under appreciated gems from this album featuring a great lyrical story and some of the best pre heavy metal riffing and in your face drumming of its time. This track hauls you in by the scruff of the neck from the first opening strains of Mays guitar and we are treated to Mercury's early growth into a truly domineering stage presence. He simply owns the stage of your mind and refuses to be ignored. Of course no discussion on Queen II is complete without ample focus on the B Side or the Black Queen as it is sometimes known. "Fairy Fellers Master Stroke" is without a doubt one of the great musical masterpieces of the 1970s. Focusing lyrically on a painting of the same name by Richard Dadd, this tracks creates a surrealistic fantasy and regales the listener with its imagery. Interesting use of a harpsichord (perhaps the first such use by a rock band?) opens the tune in almost manic fashion and John Deacons throbbing bassline drives this track right along at break neck pace. As the last strains of the Master Stroke fade away the album segues immediately into one of the most heart rending ballads ever composed for contemporary audiences. Freddie Mercury was truly a lyricist of a singular nature and his understated piano accompaniment serves this song well. The true beauty of "Nevermore" is the ageless quality of this song. This song is timeless and could have been written 3, 30, or 300 years ago. There will never be a moment when the yearning and love of this song will not be relevant. Again as the song draws to its conclusion the following track begins. "March of the Black Queen" is perhaps the penultimate track on this album and showcases the lofty ambitions of a band just beginning to realize their musical tastes. The song is climactic in its thematic conceptualization. There is a sense of menace inherent to this music both lyrically and musically. A take no prisoners attitude permeates Mercurys delivery and much of the dynamic sexuality Queen would become so well known for is apparent. As the song progresses May proceeds to literally blister the listener with one of the truly virtuosic performances contained within the entier album. The album closes with what would come to be one of Freddie Mercurys signature piano pieces the Seven Seas of Rhye an idea carried over from their debut album and more fully realized on this effort. Overall I would operate under the assumption that Queen II is of course not for everyone. Many take umbrage to the overblown studio production, extensive use of overdubs, and general bombastry of the album etc...However if you are a fan of melodious singing, powerful and imaginative imagery, virtuosic guitar work, and strong well crafted songs, than this may well be the album for you. Queen II is a powerful introduction to the band for those unfamiliar with Mercury and company's work. It features some of the very best elements of what the band would build into such well known compositions in their later work. A tour de force it certainly stands the test of time as one of the truly fine records to come from this era.

Flimbau | 4/5 |


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