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Queen - Queen II CD (album) cover




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4.36 | 861 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A master stroke

"Queen 2" was the album which started the band's rapid rise to superstardom. They achieved a moderate hit single with the final track "Seven seas of rye", a song which had appeared briefly as an instrumental coda at the end of their first album but here is developed into a full blown track. Over 30 years later, it is easy to underestimate just how different this song was to the other singles of the time. The structure is surprisingly complex for a three minute single, with superb harmonies (apparently inspired by Uriah Heep), and driving guitar.

The LP has a "White side" and a "Black side" (the effect is rather lost on the CD). The White side is primarily Brian May's compositions, the Black side is entirely Freddie Mercury's. The contrast between the two is quite stark, with May's work being in the main guitar based rock themes, while Mercury's are vocally complex with greater emphasis on the harmonies. They also tend to be the more adventurous tracks.

The "White side" has five individual tracks. After the brief guitar overture of "Procession", "Father to son" introduces what was probably the band's first prog influenced track. Although it retains a pretty basic but appealing rock feel, "White Queen" is a soft prog ballad with a supreme melody and some soaring guitar backed crescendos.

Drummer Roger Taylor is allowed to take lead vocals for his own track "Loser in the end". He actually has a fine rock voice which would come to the fore on his solo outings. This track stand out as being heavier than the rest of the album.

It may seem sacrilegious to say so, but the second side of the album bears comparison with the likes of "Supper's ready" (Genesis) and "In held 'twas in I" (Procol Harum). Had the suite been given a single name to encompass the various sections gathered here, it might now be considered the band's greatest and most progressive opus. A great deal of thought and effort has clearly been put into both the sequencing of the tracks, and the way they flow from one to the next. Take for example the segue from "March of the black Queen" to "Funny how love is"; a perfect example of a seamless transition. The side moves from pomposity ("Ogre battle"), through camp "Willow farm" like humour ("The fairy feller's master stroke") and a soft painfully melodic ballad ("Nevermore") to the piece-de-resistance, "The march of the black queen". This forerunner to "Bohemian rhapsody" weaves its way though various moods and themes with complex vocal harmonies and guitar driven rock. "Funny how love is" has a delightful retro style, reminiscent of the Beach Boys.

In all, a wonderful album, way ahead of its time, which packs more into 40 minutes than most bands manage in an entire career.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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