Friday, February 5, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 88: Queen

Well the dice like to roll one band and that band is Queen. Queen is now alone in first, with 4 reviews. I'm not complaining, that's for sure.

Disc 88 is...Queen II

Artist: Queen

Year of Release: 1974

How I Came To Know It: The Queen posts have become legion. As I've noted before, my brother introduced me to Queen. I'd say my buddy Spence invigorated me to the point where I had to own the whole catalog, and I've had this one a good ten years or more now.

How It Stacks Up: Exciting news! Since my last Queen post back at Disc 80, I've bought another Queen album. I now have 14 of 15 (I'm still missing Made In Heaven). Of the 14 I have, I'd say Queen II is not top four, but top half. Probably 5th to 7th best, depending on my mood.

Rating: 4 stars.

Fittingly, "Queen II" is Queen's second studio album. I put this one in a group along with their self-titled debut and "Sheer Heart Attack" as an artistic subset.

The music on these albums is much more classic and prog seventies rock, and while Freddie's voice still soars, the songs are less theatrical. I'm not saying that it is better or worse than the next section of albums - just different.

"Queen II" snuck up on me during this listen, as it often does. I often forget just how powerful an album this is - particularly when listened to in sequence, as opposed to shuffled in with a bunch of other records. It also begs to be played at high volume, and in the tiny confines of my Miata, I was glad to oblige those needs.

As usual, every member of the band is on top of their game. I particularly enjoyed Roger Taylor's drumming on "White Queen", which is an awesome fantasy driven track. It is mirrored by the sexy "March of the Black Queen" later in the album, which is equally good.

The songs on this album almost come together as a concept of a fairytale battle between good and evil, but only half truly fit the mold. I think it is a toss up, but I went with "prog" over "concept" this time.

Speaking of fantasy, I love Brian May's guitar on "Ogre Battle" which is a song about a battle...with...ogres! I love when a song actually delivers on the promise of its title. It even ends with the banging of a huge gong, as any good song featuring ogre battles should.

In addition to over the top "I play D&D in my basement" lyrics exemplified in "March of the Black Queen":

"I reign with my left hand, I rule with my right
I'm lord of all darkness, I'm queen of the night
I've got power - now do the march of the Black Queen
My life is in your hands, I'll foe and I'll fie"

There are songs that are beautiful and emotionally pure like "Funny How Love Is"

"Funny how love is everywhere just look and see
Funny how love is anywhere you're bound to be
Funny how love is every song in every key
Funny how love is coming how in time for tea"

Also, worth pointing out that unlike "The Streets", in the last review, Queen had no cell phones, but still were able to get home in time for tea. I guess they communicated with 'Fairy Feller dust' - or maybe they were just punctual.

Ah, the days before cell phones...White Queens heard our darkest fears, Dark Queen's tattooed their pies, and people sailed on seven seas of rhye, all without the assistance of a single "app".

If these references didn't make sense to you, then turn off your damned phone, and go buy this album. It is a better use of your time.

As a PS, "Queen II" has the second best of the mostly bad bonus dance remixes on the CD releases. The remix of "Seven Seas of Rhye" takes a song that is only 2:48 and makes it into a ridiculous 6:36 dance opus. It even samples Mustafa Ibrahim off of the "Jazz" album. Over the top - but it works. Must be Queen.

Best tracks: pretty much all of them, but let's go with Father to Son, White Queen, Some Day One Day, Ogre Battle, The March of the Black Queen, and Funny How Love Is.

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