Review Summary: Queen becoming Queen; a supreme effort representing all that Queen was in all its glory
Having recorded a full album, Queen were now allowed to use Trident Studios with much greater freedom than with their previous album. The result was a glorious, sonic masterpiece that shows off everything about Queen: strong songwriting, a tight image, sublime vocal harmonies, virtuosic musicianship and a powerful command of the studio. In its 11 cuts, Queen II gives us the works, to use a poor Queen pun.
The album opens, as with many other Queen albums, with an instrumental section: *Procession* is an intricate guitar creation by Brian May, showing off his flair for complex, polyphonic arrangement. A pulsing guitar tone leads us neatly into the first vocal cut, *Father to Son*. This song is a Queen classic, with powerful shredding from May and a supremely tight rhythm section from Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Freddie Mercury delivers a powerful, but at times, gorgeous vocal, with May also making an appearance on piano. To finish, the band gives us a repetitive multi-tracked chorus, similar in style to that of *In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited* from the following album. As it fades out, a distant, violin-like guitar chord emerges, as we seamlessly segue into the third track on the album, *White Queen (As It Began)*. Really a highlight of the early-Queen period, this is one of Brian's most beautiful ballads, as he shows off his sitar-like acoustic guitar work and Freddie gives a vocal master class. The fourth track on the album ends the May-suite, and is one of his most underrated. *Some Day One Day* is built around a jangly, shimmering guitar riff and some glorious tones from his Red Special. This song is the first time Brian sings solo on a Queen record, and is one of my personal favourite songs by the band. The final track on Side White (the album consists of the lighter Side White, mostly written by May, and the heavier Side Black, all written by Mercury) is a rocker by Roger Taylor. Roger contributed one track to each album up until **News of the World** in 1977, and while *The Loser in the End* is not a bad song, I can't help but feel that it doesn't fit with the crafted nature of this album; it stands alone from the other tracks, no segues, and contains very few of the features associated with the album. Not my favourite, but not bad.
Flipping over to Side Black, the LP recommences with 30 seconds of near-silence until *Ogre Battle* appears out of nowhere. The track is a Mercury rocker, starting with the outro played in reverse, and featuring some insane vocals from Roger and Freddie. As the title suggests, it is based on fantasy, and this is a theme in the Mercury-composed Side Black. The crash of a gong leads us into the frantic *The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke*, an insanely complex track built around some nifty harpsichord by Freddie. The vocals on this track, both lead and harmony, are mindblowing. Another personal favourite. As the track climaxes, it then slows, fading into *Nevermore*. As with *White Queen* on the opposite side, this is a gorgeous ballad with some powerful emotion, and probably the most beautiful song Freddie ever wrote, in my opinion. At just over one-minute long, it acts as a small break between the insanity of *Fairy Feller*, and the next track. *The March Of The Black Queen* is a tour de force. It is a mini-album in itself, comprising approximately 7 or 8 different sections, ranging from the most gorgeous balladry to some hard rock, featuring some of the most intense vocals the band ever recorded. The production on this track genuinely blows my mind; it is like *Bohemian Rhapsody* but times 10. A real masterpiece, it concludes with a little quasi-vaudeville section which leads us neatly into the penultimate track on the album, *Funny How Love Is*. An underrated track, it is inspired by Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" production, and features some really high vocals from Mr Mercury. Many people find this track annoying for its repetitive nature, but I personally enjoy it. To close the experience of Side Black, the band chose the finale song from the previous album, *Seven Seas of Rhye*. Having appeared in an embryonic form on the d√©but album, Queen worked and perfected it in their new, tighter sound, and it went on to be their first taste of chart success.
As is probably clear, this is my all-time favourite album, for so many different reasons. The only thing that I miss on this album is a Deacon track, but *Misfire* from the next album was worth the wait. This is the album where Queen became Queen; Queen became the Champions, and from then on, there was no stopping them now. They will rock you on this album (sorry).