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Queen - Queen II CD (album) cover




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4.35 | 951 ratings

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5 stars

Despite having loved some of the band's later work (notably A Night at the Opera) since my childhood, I never really explored a lot of Queen's output until relatively recently.

That was a colossal mistake.

Queen II is quite possibly the best album the band ever recorded. It's by far the most progressive - and simultaneously, the heaviest - the band ever got. Twenty-nine and a half of the album's forty-one minutes are taken up by three epic suites that range in length from just over eight to just over twelve minutes, encompassing all but three of the album's songs.

I won't attempt to summarise the numerous twists and turns the album takes over that time, but it's almost impossible to believe it was put together over the span of a month by a group of lads who were in their early to mid-twenties. The arrangement of "The March of the Black Queen", an obvious precursor to "Bohemian Rhapsody" (and possibly even better than its more famous successor), required so many overdubs that the sixteen-track tape wore to transparent. The maturity of the songwriting is remarkable; sandwiched in between the fantasy-themed lyrics are some particularly poignant observations on love and family relationships. The album is incredibly stylistically diverse, reflecting the influence of prog bands like Genesis and Yes, pop bands like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and hard rock bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin; there are some obvious pop moments like the "Be My Baby" pastiche "Funny How Love Is" (which is fantastic by the way), but they somehow manage to feel progressive anyway, because of how they're worked into longer suites.

I could write another two thousand words raving about this album, but I'm not sure there'd be a point. The only major flaw I can identify here is that Roger Taylor's contribution "The Loser in the End" feels out of place. It's not even a bad song; in fact, it's actually a fantastic hard rock song, but it just feels like it belongs on another album. In retrospect, this album is a strong candidate for one of the launching points of progressive metal, alongside the works bands like King Crimson and Rush were doing around the same time. I feel absolutely foolish for not giving it a listen much sooner, and I've had it almost on repeat for most of the past couple of days - it's been a long time since an album has provoked me to do that.

If all you know of Queen is the radio singles and perhaps A Night at the Opera, do yourself a favour and check this out. If you're interested enough in prog music to be reading this site, you probably won't be disappointed.

CassandraLeo | 5/5 |


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