131 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2003
"Queen are one of those rare groups that sound like nobody but themselves...They made their own sound."
Thank you so much Stanley Runk. That's something that seems to escape many Queen fans (and detractors): Queen's overwhelming originality. They hardly sounded like anyone during their time, and they incorporated elements and ideas into their music that other bands wouldn't, or possibly couldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. Hell, they were even like the only band I can think of who made progressive rock without a single use of a synthesizer during the 70s progressive rock movement. But, Queen were far more than just some "progressive rock" band, or a "hard rock" band or a "glam" band. They were above all of that cheap labeling.
Which brings us to this disc - an album that to this day still amazes me with it's sheer brilliance and inimitability. The musicianship is unique, inventive, clever, elegant, sophisticatedly sexy and compelling, and the amounts of complexity found within the album border on unfathomability. What's more astounding is how the album frequently contrasts dark & light, elegant & naughty, and brash & soft moments, added with the hyper-complexity in arrangements which still leave room for ethereal, angelic melodies and vocal harmonies, all in Queen's unique, Classicism-drenched style. Queen made all of this work so well, and all of this is what makes it the tantalizing and spellbinding wonder that it is, and after many years of listening to this album, I'm still discovering subtleties buried underneath it's mysterious surface. Freddie Mercury's talents were far too exquisite, possibly even greater than his own understanding. He could do anything he wanted, and go anywhere he wanted with his superhuman vocal and songwriting abilities: he could be the Diva, the angel, the demon, the sorcerer, the seducer...you name it; and it shows on this disc.
This album is possibly more important in practical terms than many people may realize. The operatic qualities, the hyper-complexity in arrangements, the dark atmosphere and the heavy metal blasts found here arguably and inadvertently helped prototype (or advance) what would later be known as "progressive metal." When you listen to some of Brian May's arpeggios and riffing, Freddie Mercury's powerful voice, and the overall dark atmosphere of the album, you can easily pick up on bits that can be heard in the music of important progressive metal bands like Queensrÿche, Dream Theater, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian and possible others. Ironically enough, each of these aforementioned bands were influenced by Queen.
The album opens with "Procession," Brian May's grandiose guitar orchestration which also features a clever guitar/amplifier effect - get ready for this -- mimicking a heartbeat mimicking a drum pattern. This then segues into the fiery balladry of "Father To Son," which features a section of dizzying vocal polyphony and polyrhythms, which are later followed by the big crash of Brian's guitar crunch, which then gives way to one of the most violently explosive instrumental sections to be heard in all of classic rock. Freddie's vocals on here are astounding as well.
"Ogre Battle" is a blistering progressive metal rocker with some hot-oiled riffing from Brian, which then segues into the beautifully outrageous (more appropriately; arty) and elegant Bach-meets-manic whimsy of "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke." "Nevermore" is a brief, but haunting, ethereal ballad featuring some of the most beautiful and precious vocal harmonies, some of them just happen to be operatic. "The March of The Black Queen" seems to bring bits of everything before this into full circle. This track seems to twist and morph into a different mode every few seconds or so, which makes it sound like a dozen different songs rolled into one. It showcases a dizzying mix of opera, metal, ballad, Broadway, glam and more. "Funny How Love Is" is an enchanting ballad featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, and "Seven Seas of Rhye" is the only hit on the album. Needs no explanation.
Queen has contributed some of the most daring and original material to popular music that still has not been equalled, and they entered into territory that still hasn't been charted. _Queen II_ is one of the finest examples of this, if not the finest. They would go on, and release many important albums after this, but they would never again make anything as bold and risqué as this. My words for this album will run well past the 1,000 word limit. Simply put: this is my favorite album of all-time, and by my favorite band of all-time. Please enjoy.
55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2011
Please note this album review is comparing two CD editions and not reviewing the music.
Suffice to say many would rate this second album of Queen's as their greatest, progressive rock concept album - many fans liking it as much as 'Night of the Opera'. It has all the elements of multi-layered voices and rich guitar tones that characterised Queen as a group. The compositions are a mixture of the majestic to Tolkien-like fairy and ogre story tales in a prog rock setting.
Firstly I have bought the deluxe version which includes an extra EP with 5 additional tracks. I will refer to this later.
Overall, I do like the whole new 2011 package. I am a fan who bought this album back in the 70's and was a tad disappointed with the 1991 Holywood Records release. In hind-site, that is not such a poor production as one realises that many of these original mixes were muddy in places. Having said that the master, Bob Ludwig, has cleaned this up so that overall it is smoother, more dynamic listening experience. Do note though that to my ears, the improvement is not as dramatic an improvement as for instance the brilliant 30th anniversary 'Night at the Opera' release over previous editions.
As I mentioned, it's the whole package. You buy into an experience, the feel, the brand. So I love and appreciate the crisper iconic front photo. My 1991 edition front photo looks positively blurred in comparison. The booklet with centrefold photo on a pristine white background took me back to the original album. This packaging is far more befitting this classic album than the cheap looking foldout lyrics in the 1991 CD. Everything has an understated yet, polished appearance that replicates the original LP right down to the same liner notes including reference to "Virtuoso castanets by Roy Thomas Baker... and nobody played synthesizer... again.'
Instead of reviewing every track of the album I will go into detail looking at the first three tracks, 'Procession', 'Father to Son' and 'White Queen'. These three examples illustrate pretty much what has happened in the remaster of the whole album. I am listening on a Marantz player with Mission speakers - nothing too fancy -entry level equipment. I find that overall the 1991 CD seems a little tiring to listen to because of a lot of sibilance - this does seem less so on the 2011 remaster.
You notice an audio difference immediately on the first track. I thought it was smoother and on closer listening noticed the scratch of Brian's high octave guitar had been removed at 48 and 57 seconds. (On my LP I had thought these were scratches on the vinyl but clearly they were there on the 1991 CD as well.) They're finally gone. The short instrumental leads into the second track, `Father to Son'. Maybe the biggest change is that you can hear definition to the background voices singing the chorus 'From Father to Son'. The rolling snare of Roger is clearer and the bass a little tighter. Definite improvements - but not dramatic.
The growl on the guitar around the lyrics 'But you'll write it all again before you die' has more more menace because I think the background noise is reduced. But unfortunately the original unintended distortion still appears especially in the more full, layered places. Generally the drums are still far back in the mix throughout this album. I was hoping that this was possibly going to be altered.
The amazing 'White Queen' seems more tender and the 'silences' almost SACD quality quiet. The opening acoustic plucked notes stand out more leading into 'So sad her eyes'. On the 1991 CD, the first time Freddie sings 'eyes' has a serious static scratch behind it. It is still audible but not as distracting in the 2011 remaster. These vocals now are significantly cleaner. All the 's' in the 1991 edition seem piercing, '...such a breathless night as this, Upon my brow the lightest kiss...My lady soon will stir...'. 2011 just seems more musical and the 's' not as intrusive.
Perhaps the biggest overall improvement is the quality of the vocals. Wow, Freddie had an expressive voice showing such emotion. Hearing this again on the 2011 remaster made it all the more vivid. The section starting "How did thee fare, what have thee seen" has been cleaned delicately. Whatever magic Bob Ludwig did - it shines through here and on into the lengthy acoustic guitar solo and to the final lines where the vocals are much clearer than on the 1991 version.
Having said this - for many the audio improvement may not seem worth the money of repurchasing again. I'd recommend the deluxe version as the extra 5 tracks are all great and two outstanding. The BBC version of 'See what a Fool I've been' with a brand new 2011 mix is simply mind blowing. This version and mix is easily one of the best early recording of Queen of the 70's. The drums have such punch that I wished they'd recorded the whole of Queen 2 in the BBC studios. The clarity is startling. And then of course there is the famous, excellent live version of `White Queen' recorded at the London's Hammersmith Odeon. This has been available as an official bootleg from the Queen site for a number of years.
So Queen fans - don't hesitate, but for casual fans who already have Queen 2, make a considered purchase. And of course if you think that all Queen wrote were songs like 'Another bites the dust' and pop tracks like 'Radio Gaga' then this album will shock you with its swagger, snarl and creativity.
Classic 5 star Queen album...but the rating for the remaster, I have given 4 stars.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 1998
QUEEN II wasn't as sucessful as A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and you won't find any anthem like "We are the Champions" in it, but it is the best Queen album.
They never sounded as authentic as in this album. Ok, the lyrics may be too naive for an adult to sing seriously, buy who cares? It's only rock'n'roll, anyway. The arrangements are precious and the approach unique. Do you know any other band that would compose "The March of the Black Queen", "Nevermore" or "White Queen"? They are 100% Queen.
The highlight is "Father to Son", an epic ballad that manages to contain somewhere in the middle the most devastating heavy riff of Queen's career. "Ogre Battle" (in its own eccentric way) and Roger Taylor's "The Loser in the End" (a more mainstream rock) deliver some of the best heavy rock in town. "The Fairy Feller's..." is so exquisite but it is a splendid example of Mercury's flamboyant talents. "Some day One Day" is such a lovely Brian May song, the gentle voice and the amazing guitar tones offering a moving number.
The hit of the album was "Seven Seas of Rhye", but more than any other Queen album, the second one was made to be heard as a whole.
For those that like early seventies heavy-progressive rock or are curious to listen to the powerful Queen in its most radical moments, QUEEN II is a great option!
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2001
I've owned many Queen albums for many years and this is the one that's at the top of my list hands down. A Night At The Opera was excellent, but what they achieved on that album dosen't come close to the depth and complexity of this progressive rock/metal masterpiece. This is basically one large dark, medieval and complex 40 minute epic split into 11 sections, or songs. This starts off with the guitar instrumental "Procession", flows into the heavy medieval rocker "Father To Son",then flows into "White Queen", which is soft but features heavy parts in it. Then comes "Some Day One Day", a soft rocker sung by Brian May. "The Loser In The End", is a rocker, this time sung by Roger Taylor. Now comes "Ogre Battle", probably the heaviest on the disc. Then comes my favorite progression of the album: "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke", is very quirky and manic and is very all over the place. It's actually based on a painting by Richard Dadd, and the painting is just as complicated as the song is. The mania is now calm as we flow into the beautiful and haunting "Nevermore", which features Freddie's beautiful and heavenly falsetto. Now we enter the climactic epic of the album "The March Of The Black Queen", if you thought "Bohemian Rhapsody", was bizarre, well this is probably over the rainbow bizarre. There are many tempo shifts, idea changes and it is unbelievable. I can't even explain it, you have to hear it on your own. Now we flow into "Funny How Love Is", which is very pop oriented and finally lightens up the mood for the otherwise dark album. And It ends with the only hit of the album "Seven Seas Of Rhye".
Overall, to me this was Queen's shining hour.
P.S. It took me 5 months to appreciate this albm as a whole, and I was 12 years old when I first got it. I wouldn't recommend starting off with this album as it can be too much for the unexperienced Queen fan. Start off with their Greatest hit albums, News Of The World and A Night At The Opera to get a feel for Queen's art rock and hard rock roots. Then after you feel tired of those, then you can get into Queen at their most progressive and out there- and best-Queen II.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2004
When it comes to first impressions of Queen II, many listeners say they feel overwhelmed, disappointed, or even disgusted. Why?
If you pull apart the songs and examine their single threads, what you find goes BEYOND motley:
--tenderly lilting piano with plaintive falsetto vocals (Nevermore)
--jarring vocal harmonies delivered in shrill, open-throated staccato SCREAMS (Ogre, March)
--fiery speed-metal riffs (Ogre)
--impish harpsichord and piano backing a strange, rollicking stories about fairy creatures, medieval village folk, and adventures in times of myth (Feller, Rhye)
--duelling lead guitars swirling like so much an intra-cranial maelstrom, while wave after wave of a**-kicking metal riffs crashes against your skull (Father to Son-guitar solo)
--simple, serene acoustic guitar rhythms driving plain melodies (Some Day, Funny)
Thus, to the casual fan, Queen II can feel like an irritating hodge podge of songs that bend and shift beneath your feet.
One possible exception is "White Queen," which may appeal to those who crave a good, melodramatic ballad. The music & lyric swell in a crescendo of emotion. At climax, it breaks into one of the most God-beautiful epiphanies of regret I've ever heard recorded: "my Goddess hear my darkest fear: I speak too late/it's for evermore that I wait."
So, the genius of this album really emerges in the SYNTHESIS of the diverse threads into a manic tapestry of joy, regret, yearning; it's the passionate bliss of creating wild-eyed tales in strange settings; or it's the common pleasure of rocking out to the sound of your amped-up guitar.
"Loser in the End", drummer Taylor's song, is a fairly dated rocker - I generally fast foward right to Ogre Battle - but, the rest of album achieves a rare and brilliant alchemy, difficult to describe. I'll try to put it in context of the other music Queen was producing at the time.
I think Queen's first album "Queen"--while decent--was maybe a bit too rough and derivative of early-70's hard rock...kind of like art students who loved to jam to the heavy bands of that time. By contrast, albums from "Opera" to "Jazz" tended toward TOO MUCH refinement and compartmentalized song-writing; or they overly wore the imprint of the producer (e.g. Mack & "The Game").
Yet, on Queen II, the band caught an updraft of chaotic creativity. I hear May & Mercury still influencing each other, still cross-pollenating and still wrestling with each other, OUT LOUD.
If this description was too arcane, then I'll use the time-honored idioms of SEX, DRUGS, and ROCK'N'ROLL to break down my "highlight" songs in a different way:
Procession/Father to Son: Think Coldplay having sex with early-Sabbath; Politik meets War Pigs (roughly)
White Queen - Think Chris Isaak having sex with Pink Floyd on the Dark Side; an ethereal, acoustic, swelling ballad of yearning & loss
Ogre Battle - Think Motorhead having sex with early-Rush; Ziggy-era Bowie stands watching nearby; Bowie lowers the hashpipe and in a croaky voice says, "God, that's loud; but oh, how lovely!"
Nevermore - Elton John, a bit tipsy, sucks up a lungful of helium and launches into a rueful ballad, touched with a bit of baroque whimsy
Fairy Feller's Master Stroke - Elton John drops some "good" acid and thinks about a painting of a fairy-village scene
Black Queen - Elton John's acid trip turns bad; Pete Townsend and Tina Turner appear; by turn, they torment and tantalize Elton, who plays out these cycles of angst/ecstacy in a dark 1st draft of Bohemian Rhapsody
Seven Seas - Coldplay doing speed with Roger Daltrey; a weird, megalomaniacal vibe takes over
As a 12-year old kid in Utah (1983), I thought I was so far-out cool to have bought such a weird, freaked-out album. I had loved my Uncle Dave's copy of "Sheer Heart Attack" for several years, but "Queen II" took me a few months to digest. It was worth it...21 years later, these compositions, though dated in a few moments, remain suprisingly fresh & avant garde.
If you like music to be predictable, pleasant, and familiar, STAY AWAY FROM THIS ALBUM. But if you like Queen and you're up for a careful listen and a wild ride...have at it.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2002
Queen II - their 2nd album (of course!) is one of their best albums.
I have the version that was in Queen - The Crown Jewels Box Set and the sound is awesome!
For those that haven't listened to this album, beware -- like many reviewers said: this ain't your "We Will Rock You" or "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" material. This is sit back and take a journey material. You have to hear it from beginning to end. It all flows so well. Especially Mercury's side long opus (Ogre Battle > Fairy Feller's Master Stroke > Nevermore > March Of The Black Queen > Funny How Love Is > Seven Seas of Rhye).
There is no one highlight but if I had to pick one it'd have to be "March of The Black Queen". This is pre-Rhapsody at it's finest, but heavier and with a different angle.
Yes...it has campiness, screaming harmonies, heavy guitars and drums, delicate piano ballads, and mid-evil lyrics.
So bizzare that it worked!!!
Get it now!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2000
I absolutely love this album! I got it for Christmas when I got the Crown Jewels box set. Man, am I pleased. This is one of the best in the set. All of the songs flow together like something of a rock opera. Probably my favorite song of here is "March of the Black Queen," it's definitely up there somewhere with "The Prophet's Song" and "Innuendo." It starts out slow and soft, and then the vocals jump out at you unexpectedly, then the song goes fast, then slow down and gets softer, then goes into something of a 4/4 march, gets fast again, slows down, gets fast again, and segues into "Funny How Love Is." "Ogre Battle" is a classic, "The Fairy-Feller's Master Stroke" is great, they are all just two good for words. "Procession/Father to Son" sets the high standard for the rest of this great album, which is an amazing one, to say the least. The theme of the album is somewhat medieval, and provides a nice feel to the album. Some of the disc sounds like something out of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, a lot of fantasy in there, great stories to the songs. I highly reccommend this album to any Queen fan, anyone who likes stuff with this type of feel to it, or just any fan of rock music in general. If you like stuff like Jethro Tull and Steeleye Span, I am sure you will like this. So stop reading this review and BUY THIS ALBUM! It's that good.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2003
It is a bittersweet moment for me as I contemplate this album. I had heard that all true Queen fans must own it, so of course I picked it up. It is the most amazing thing I've ever heard. I've only listened to it about 5 times at this point, and already I'm convinced it's the greatest rock album of all time. I can't describe the heights of joy this album brings me to.
So why bittersweet? Because of the missed opportunity that Queen was. I never realized how drab my previous favorite album of all time "Sheer Heart Attack" was. I never noticed how clean and slick "A Night at the Opera" was. I read reviews that say that Black Queen and the rest of this album foretold the genius of Bohemian Rhaphsody and other hits to come. Instead, I think it's better to say that you can still see the traces of the genius of Queen II in Queen's later albums.
This album is that good.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2003
In fact, I think Queen had to tone down the complexity and creativity of their music in the following years to appeal to the masses. It took me a few listens to really appreciate Queen II and I suspect that it might be an album that has "too much going on" for the average listener. However, I believe that this album shows Queen at the height of their creativity. One of my favorite tracks is "White Queen". It's haunting guitar, beautiful melody and solo are so original. Another favorite is the track "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke" which is lyrically unique and musically experimental. "March of the Black Queen" is another epic Queen song that takes the listener through untouched musical landscapes.
Although Queen wrote a deluge of other great songs in the years after "Queen II", I don't believe any of their albums had the daring originality and musicianship of "Queen II". I highly recommend "Queen II" to all who appreciate quality musicianship and composition.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2001
This is by far one of Queens greatest album. Not only is it one of the best Queen albums, it is one of the best albums ever. Why do so many bands have such good second albums? (Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden). This is Queen at their fantasy best, with names such as Ogre Battle, The Fair Fellers Master Stroke etc..
Well, here is a small review of each song.
Procession: This song is exactly like a procession, and is just fantastic. Brian May at his best i reckon. This song is just fantastic, and gives u a feel of what the rest of the album is going to be like.
Father To Son: What an Epic! Brian has written the longest songs of queen, and are always epics (the prophets song for eg.)! Freddies voice is superb, the music is just great, and unforgettable song.
White Queen (As It Began): This album has one of Brian Mays greatest songs, and this is one of them. Such a balladic song, yet so classic rock at the same time. Freddies voice again is fantastic, I absolutely adore this song.
Some Day, One Day: Yet again, another Brian Song. Not one of the best songs on the album, but good none the less. A very soft song with Brian on Vocals, the only song Brian sings lead on the album.
The Loser In The End: This song is a bit out of place in the album, but it's kickass Roger Taylor Rock. Roger taylor on vocals of course.
Ogre Battle: Freddies Turn now, and wow, does he start off with a bang. This song is fantastic, and starts the way it end, but in reverse, the first part anyway, or should i say the last part, aaahh! im confused! A great song.
The Fairy Fellers Masterstroke: A Fantasy song from a painting that Freddie saw. The painting inspired him. THis is probably the most creative song on the album.
Nevermore: Oh, how beautiful. I believe this song to be just as good if not better than Love of My Life. This song didn't get half the attention it deserved. Just a great song, freddie voice is stunning as always. Nearly brings me to tears.
The March Of The Black Queen: I like to think of this as the mother of Bohemian Rhapsody. The reason for this is because of all the time changes and the ket changes. A great Queen song, and pretty long too. One of their best.
Funny How Love Is: I absolutely love this song. Some fans hate it, but i adore it. Freddies voice is great. Its hard to describe the song, a lot of acoustic guitars, and yeah, i dunno.
Seven Seas Of Rhye: The song that put Queen on the map. A sweet rock song, written by Freddie of course. A classic.
See What a Fool I've Been: It takes a while for this song to grow on you, but when it does, u love it. A great blues song, i'm not sure who wrote it though. This was an original Queen b-side.
All in all this is a Queen Classic. Greatest hits didn't have enough songs from this album, which is a disappointment. You must buy this album, it takes a while to like it, i admit, but once you do like it, you will adore it forever and truly appreciate it for the Master Piece it is.