Home > Music > Queen – Queen II (1974)

Queen – Queen II (1974)

3568656e701dd36aaa57c29f228b7e1bStill quite early in Queen’s career – Queen II is like Queen I, except more so, containing the same sort of glam rock with occasional excursions into heavy metal and progressive rock. The differences really just come down to a larger budget for recording and a year or so worth of extra experience, although there are some tracks here whose origins date back to the band’s early days (notably ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’, which was first hinted at on the last album). Never underestimate what money and experience can do for a band.

Queen II has a pretty sharp and acknowledged split between its two ‘sides’, even beyond that implied by the physical characteristics of the original vinyl. The first side (“White”) is more standard ’70s rock and proto-metal, while side two (“Black”) is more experimental and fantasy/mythology/prog flavored. Important elements of the band’s sound make the jump between halves – frequent guitar leads, tons of studio overdubbing, Freddie Mercury, and so forth, so it’s not like listening to two different bands. Side one does feature lead vocal contributions from guitarist Brian May and Roger Taylor, though, so it’d probably just barely win the variety competition if there was one. Either way, the slightly more normal first side and greater conceptual unity (and seguefaulting) of the second side make for markedly different listening experiences.

Ultimately, I think the shared elements are more important to understanding Queen, at least in this relatively early and formative era of their career. Typical of a lot of the prog bands of this era, Queen relies pretty heavily on dense instrumentation, although that’s mostly achieved by ornamenting with overdubs and doesn’t stop the occasional sparser and more conventional blues-rock number like “The Loser In The End” from ending the first side of the album. Compositions are also elaborate to a degree, even the shorter ones; this is especially important because Queen doesn’t write particularly long songs. 5-6 minutes seems to be, with admitted exceptions on other, later albums, their general upper limit. That Queen manages to keep their signatures intact in a sea of stylistic experimentation (That’s either the third or fourth sea of Rhye, I think), especially without extending their songs to enormous lengths is one of their strengths; not a great deal of bands can say they incorporate asides into their music without losing their own identity. Not even my go-to band for this sort of technique really pulls that off!

In the end, I kind of regret writing this article before remembering how important Queen was to forming my musical tastes. I may have written about the nostalgia angle (A Night At The Opera was the first independent, self-driven record acquisition I made), but I can hear hints of their approaches in so many of the albums I’ve written about for Invisible Blog. Not that Queen’s musical ideas on Queen II were entirely and utterly original, but they are worth a look.

Highlights: “Father to Son”, “Ogre Battle”, “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke”


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