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Queen - Queen II CD (album) cover




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4.36 | 867 ratings

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4 stars The Childhood Favourite

Wow - this, the best Queen album, getting a 7.0 from me, once self-described as one of their biggest fans. I guess people really do change.

People always say that, though, and I've never really noticed it. It's a bit odd, how my love for Queen, my favourite band when I was 11 vanished within a couple of years, yet somehow my love for My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy remained, despite everyone telling me which one was 'better'. But to be honest, not much as actually changed, I just started to realise that limewire, with its idiotic single-song function, happened to pick me the single songs from this band that are the most tolerable.

Everyone has a Queen phase though, I'm certain of it. Everyone has a "fuck, Bohemian Rhapsody rules" phase, and then a "fuck, The March of the Black Queen rules" phase, before realising how much every single other aspect of Queen's music grates so hard. This was always my favourite, their second album. It had to be, it had both The March of the Black Queen and Ogre Battle on it. And Seven Seas of Rhye too! I don't even care about the rest of the album, this must be the best.

On my obligatory final listen to this record today, I honestly began to question how such a great talent could produce such excellent tracks within a record, then fill the rest of the album to the brim with such absolute trite. There's no denying that "The March of the Black Queen" is one of the greatest songs ever made by humans, but to then follow it with such a pathetic track as "Funny How Love Is" really makes no sense to me. And the worst part is that the final note from "The March of the Black Queen" floats into "Funny How Love Is", so you're stuck with an internal battle of wanting to resolve that epic unfinished cadence, or being reminded of how embarrassing Queen can be. And it's not even the worst track here ? "The Loser in the End" takes that crown with stellar flair, terribly joining Freddie's tough-guy hard rock vocals with a bad hook, bad soloing, and the usual things I hate about Queen (bad guitar tones, terrible lyrics and cheesy choir vocals). On my version of this album, there's even a twelfth track, the embarrassing "See What A Fool I've Been". I'm really quite glad that one isn't on the actual album, because I had a bit of a rant prepared for that one.

And I hate to say it, but time has even faded my love for the great tracks on this album. Both "The March of the Black Queen" and "Ogre Battle" were once in my top 10 songs of all time, but now I can barely justify giving one of them 10/10. Ogre Battle always wowed me with that enormous riff, which I guess was a precursor to my love of metal later on, but this is still one of my favourite riffs ever. And I really love how the song opens with an inverse version of the riff, subtly hinting at the melody, before it flips over and locks into place, and it truly feels like an excellent way of building up the energy in the track, not just a poorly justified use of studio trickery. But like most Queen songs from my new perspective of music knowledge, nothing can truly get me past the cheese factor here. From the rather terrible lyrics about something in Freddy's demented mind, to the embarrassing harmonised choir vocals, to the guitar tone, it's really not the music here that I have a problem with ? it's the fact that it's Queen and Queen are Queening all over it.

Of course, then there's "The March of the Black Queen", the Bohemian Rhapsody for people who want to be contrarian and claim Bohemian Rhapsody isn't Queen's best song. But honestly, it isn't. The March may be missing an opera breakdown, but it has an even bigger final riff, an insanely good verse melody, the best use ever of Queen's obsession with stereo vocals, a rather beautiful solemn vocal part, and a piano finale with one of the catchiest melodies in Queen's oeuvre, and (of course) terrible lyrics. One thing I'll always love about this song (and Bohemian Rhapsody as well, I guess), is just how condensed everything is - that all of that shit happened in just six minutes and thirty-four seconds. When I was a kid, that didn't seem so special ? six minutes was a marathon length. But now, it seems like the length of a pop song, and yet Queen can shove as many melodies and riffs as there are in a standard Yes epic into the size of Yes' shortest song.

I used to always say that the second minute of this track, when the riff really comes in, is the best minute of music in the entire history of the universe, and I gotta admit, it still wows me to this day. I always remember days of trying to sing all four vocal parts at once, until the point when I really just sounded like a muddle of harmony and quick riffing. The lyrics really make it hard to enjoy, Freddie's fantasyland is a bit drug-heavy and joking to sing about seriously, but the intricacy of the melodies interwoven during this section is unparalleled in Queen's discography, and probably in music as a whole. But my absolute favourite part of the song is after the bombastic rise, as it comes up from the solemn piano/vocal interlude, and Freddie's piano and Brian's guitar are playing in unison it a brilliant manner, and the lead riff comes flying back in on the guitar.

Of the songs that I didn't know before, "Father to Son" is probably the only Queen song ever that has stood out, in their entire discography. It's nothing special, but it has a great melody, and it's one of those songs in which Queen's bombast and theatricality actually works, the choir vocals are epic and fitting, and honestly, if it was recorded on modern equipment with a less terrible guitar tone, it could be fantastic. That goes for most of this album actually, even the songs that I love. I feel my hatred for Queen's choir vocals stems partially from the fact that I'm so fucking sick of hearing the five or six really famous Queen songs that I want to punch them, but also because they're just so weakly recorded, and feel so weak. "Nevermore" is another great track here, and could be one of my favourites if it were a bit developed. Queen II is a decent record, but I feel with this review out of the way, I'll never touch it again. This is the closest we'll ever get to that Queen album that isn't 50% great, 50% shit, because this one runs nearer to 70/30, but it's certainly no masterpiece.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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