Tatterdemalion and a junketer, there's a nymph and a dragonfly trumpeter....
Released March 1974
Recorded at Trident Studios, London
Running time 40.42
In 1974, Queen were still something of a "cult" band. One (comparatively) minor chart hit in Seven Seas Of Rhye had brought them to people's attention and this, my personal favourite Queen album, still slipped under the radar in comparison to later works.
Lyrically, fairies, queens, dragonflies, ogres and the like were still prevalent and the music the mixture of "heavy" and piano-driven melodic delicacy that we had been introduced to on their 1973 debut album. There was, thankfully, no of the 1920s-style Mercury foppery that, in my opinion, so blighted A Night At The Opera. A Day At The Races and, to a lesser extent Sheer Heart Attack. Give me white queens and ogre battles to lazing on a Sunday afternoon, which is a strange choice to make when assessing a "rock" band's music, but the "heavy" bits on White Queen", Father To Son and Ogre Battle win out and make Queen II a very credible album.
2. Father To Son
3. White Queen
4. Some Day One Day
5. The Loser In The End
6. Ogre Battle
7. The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke
9. The March Of The Black Queen
10. Funny How Love Is
11. Seven Seas Of Rhye
Despite the appeal of Father To Son and White Queen as openers, the ethereal Some Day One Day and the completely incongruous "Taylor track", The Loser In The End, (written by drummer Roger Taylor) where he regrets allowing his mother to wash his clothes for him in his youth, it is the old "side two" that steals the show.
Segued as one complete whole, Abbey Road style, we get one Queen classic after another - the afore-mentioned Ogre Battle; the artist Richard Dadd-inspired lyrical wonder of Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke; the beautiful but brief Nevermore leading into the tour de force and forerunner to Bohemian Rhapsody that is March Of The Black Queen (in many ways I prefer it to Rhapsody). Then it is the harmonious Funny How Love Is before the single Seven Seas Of Rhye signs off to what is, in my opinion, the finest twenty minutes in Queen's career.
Queen II is proof that Queen weren't always the "singles band" that some later albums unfortunately suggested they may be.
Finally - these band appraisals have been collated and appear online for all to see, but they are interesting, so I have no hesitation in including them here -
(On the concept of Side White and Side Black) Well... that was a concept that we developed at the time... it doesn't have any special meaning. But we were fascinated with these types of things... the wardrobe that we used at the time described it perfectly well...
— Freddie Mercury
The most important thing to me was the “Queen II “ album going into the charts – especially satisfying that, since the first one didn't do so well. It's nice to see some recognition for your work though I don't usually worry too much. Roger tends to worry more about what's happening on that side.
— John Deacon
That's when we first really got into production, and went completely over the top.
I hated the title of the second album, “Queen II”, it was so unimaginative.
— Roger Taylor
When “Queen II” came out it didn't connect with everyone. A lot of people thought we'd forsaken rock music. They said: "Why don't you play things like “Liar” and “Keep Yourself Alive”?” All we could say was, give it another listen, it's there, but it's all layered, it's a new approach. Nowadays people say: "Why don't you play like “Queen II”?” A lot of our close fans think that, and I still like that album a lot. It's not perfect, it has the imperfections of youth and the excesses of youth, but I think that was our biggest single step ever.
— Brian May
— Brian May