Queen II

Queen

Elektra Records, 1974

http://www.queenonline.com/

REVIEW BY: Matthew Turk

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/07/2001

Queen II was a culmination of the fantastical lyrics they had alluded to in their first release. They would return to them slightly from time to time, but the second half of this album was a prog-rock masterpiece that never left the mythical world of Freddie Mercury's imagination - except briefly, as noted below.

The first half of the album -- Side White as it is called -- begins with a march-style guitar piece, showcasing Brian May's custom guitar, and moves into a fairly long rock-piece called "Father And Son." This is the only song on the album I don't particularly care for - it seems a bit overlong, and I don't like the way Mercury delivers the chorus.

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The third song on the album, however, "White Queen (As It Began)," begins to show just what Queen was capable of, even at such a relatively early stage. It's an emotional song with beautiful lyrics, featuring a delightfully light slide guitar solo in the middle. This song shows how good Queen could execute a transition from haunting melody to grinding rocker within a single piece of music.

"Some Day One Day" isn't astonishing, but it is pleasant. May takes over vocals on this one, and we find that he actually has a very nice voice to listen to. It's followed by the Roger Taylor-penned "Loser In The End," which revolves around an interesting percussion line.

Side Black, the second half of the album, is essentially a single song cut into pieces by musical and lyrical themes, with lyrics written entirely by Mercury. The first song, "Ogre Battle," starts with its own ending played backwards, and then runs like hell for four minutes before sliding into "The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke," which is actually running commentary on a painting that's still available for viewing someplace or another. "Feller" actually has an incredible word density, and it too never stops running for its nearly three minutes.

"Nevermore," the track that follows it, is simple and beautiful. To discuss it further would be rather counterproductive -- it's simple, and it's beautiful.

The centerpiece of Side Black comes with "The March Of The Black Queen," cementing the progressive rock leanings we'd only seen glimpses of before. It's a shame that Queen only dabbled occasionally in this type of music; but it certainly does guarantee that their efforts were always of high quality.

"Funny How Love Is" is a constantly-escalating tune that is pleasant to listen to, and while not really part of the story as yet, does place a nice end to the suite that constitutes most of Side Black. The final song, "Seven Seas Of Rhye," grabbed my head the first time I heard it, particularly with its megalomaniacal lyrics and piano-guitar interplay.

This album belongs in every record collection. While the first side can be a bit weak at times, the second half more than makes up for it. Queen's ability is displayed here full force, in a truly all-band effort.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-


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© 2001 Matthew Turk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.