Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, Robin Geoffrey Cable and Queen.
Engineered by Mike Stone.
Cover Concept by Mick Rock and Queen.
Freddie Mercury : Vocals,Piano,Harpsichord
Brian May : Guitars,Piano,Vocals,Bells
John Deacon : Bass Guitar,Acoustic Guitar
Roger Meddows-Taylor : Percussion,Vocals
Virtuoso castanets by Roy Thomas Baker … and nobody played synthesizer … again.
Recommended Songs : White Queen (As It Began) (May), Some Day One Day (May), The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke (Mercury)
This is probably another album which is overlooked but is easily a contender for my favourite album. This album had side one called “White” and Side 2 called “Black” and funnily enough Brian May had all the songs (bar one) on the white side and Mercury had all the songs on the black side. This album gave Queen their breakthrough into the UK charts, getting to No.5 in the charts, an improvement of 19 places over the first album. Even with this, it was not thought of as a good album – Rolling Stone in 1974 called it a ” floundering and sadly unoriginal affair “.
The album starts with Brians regal style instrumental called ‘Procession’ which leads almost seamlessly to ‘Father to Son’ which is an excellent example of early experimentation by Queen (remember No Synths at this point). ‘White Queen (as it began)’ is the highlight of Side 1 (the White Side), showing Brians brilliance with song writing. ‘Some Day One Day’, is yet another Brian May piece on, sort of a guitar folksy ballad, but very good none the less. The final piece on the white side is ‘Loser in the End’, penned by Roger – however, I have to say I didn’t like this piece initially, as I felt it wasn’t as strong a piece of music as the others (perhaps a bit out of place) but it did grow on me, eventually.
Freddies “Black Side” has some of his best work. ‘Ogre Battle’ is a heavy song, which could easily be mistaken for a Brian May classic. The ‘Fairy Fellers Master Stroke’ was actually inspired by a painting and poem, Freddie makes impressive use of the harpsichord to give this song a medieval and fantasy feel. The excellent ballad ‘Nevermore’ allows Freddie to once again show off at the piano as well as the layered vocals. ‘The March Of The Black Queen’ is another Mercury epic which transgresses slightly towards the end with a slow ballad style and then back a the fast paced finale – but this is one song which would be almost impossible to recreate on stage. ‘Funny How Love Is’ is probably the least impressive song, in that its very simple, a bit too soft when compared to Ogre Battle and perhaps interrupts the continuity of the album slightly. The album ends with the full version of ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’ – this album was supposed to start with this song, since Queen I ended with the instrumental version. This song was an obvious sign of the hits to come, with Mercurys rapid piano riff and Mays inventive guitar solo, its no wonder it made it to Greatest Hits I.
This is one of the albums which I play most, the songs are varied in style but packed with early-Queen quality. Its an album which has very good continuity, in that the styles of the songs are all similar on each side. There is amazing contrast between the White and Black sides of the album – Mays white side tends towards melodic pieces where he can show off his excellent guitar skills where as Mercurys black side has songs which are epics of sorts, very strong and some piano in the songs wherever possible. White and Black, Good and Evil perhaps ?
You will enjoy Queen II , its one I would recommend everyone to have in their collection.
Did you know… that there were problems with releasing this album due to a small spelling error on the album sleeve. Queen persisted until it was corrected before release.
- Queen II – Rating 87%