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British rock group


Queen II





Queen - 5.5

One of the hardest things about looking at an album retrospectively is trying to erase any knowledge of the band in order to look upon things with a new perspective. We all know just what Queen went on to achieve, including the track often heralded as the greatest piece of rock music ever. But how good in isolation are the earlier albums?

Really the first Queen album set out the stall for the shining future. There's plenty of the trademark Mercury operatic-style vocals and plenty of the sweeping Brian May guitars, but this is still a work very much in progress with the inimitable Queen style yet to kick in but enough originality to make it worthwhile.

I wonder if those listening at the time realised this was the start of something special or felt it was just a solid rock album from the chirpy opening of "Keep Yourself Alive" Elsewhere there's some whimsy and a slightly embarrassing cod religious piece entitled simply "Jesus." As they say from small acorns mighty oaks grow.

Queen II - 7

Somehow there's more of a stadium feel about Queen II from the pomposity of the opening track "Procession." Certainly "Father to Son" has much more ingenuity than anything on the first album and there's more of a thematic feel to this than Queen which seems to be more of a collection of individual songs. Queen II also manages to have more of a prog rock feel to it as is illustrated by Brian May's "White Queen."

It may sound ridiculous but this seems less like a Queen album than its predecessor. At times the music seems to threaten to get out of control, although it never quite does. Just listen to the Fairy Feller's Master Stroke to see what I mean. "Nevermore" is a very short song but gives definite hints of the melodies to follow in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Overall it's a much more satisfying offering with some lovely harmonies and changes of key and melodies and Freddy Mercury firmly establishing himself as one of rock's great voices. It's also very difficult to play Seven Seas of Rhye without playing air guitar.