Ascending to the throne
4 Out Of 5 Stars
The difference between Queen and Queen II is really nothing short of amazing. While the first album was a pretty auspicious debut from a nervy prog-rock band, the second album comes off as a band thoroughly settled into its own personality and letting every idea flow free to the recording studio tapeheads. While not completely rid of seventies prog-cliches, this semi-conceptualized album set Queen apart from the pack.
Queen split the original album into a white and black half, with the white half dealing with the regal issues ("Procession" "White Queen As It Began") and the black being the harder rocking ("Ogre Battle" "March of The Black Queen"). You also get a clearer picture of the band's blueprint for extravagance (the really heavy vocal arrangements) along with Brian May's unique guitar sound. Freddie Mercury is already pushing the classical/theatrical piano playing to the front of the band, and once again, Mercury, May and drummer Roger Taylor vary the lead vocal chores.
Still, Queen II had yet to buck the Medieval themes (castles, ogres and - heh heh - fairy fellers put in their appearance all), but the band's assertive musicianship made this a solid album. An interesting thing about this album is that it had no real `hit' songs or Queen classics, but it - in my opinion - was the Queen album that had the best song-flow overall. The following Sheer Heart Attack would finally break Queen in the USA with a hit single, but "Queen II" was Queen's proclamation that they were prepped and ready for world domination.
Also in the amazing dept is the remastering. The intro to "White Queen" is enough to give you chills in its newer, cleaner form, a hugs step up from the 1991 issue. The bonus tracks are also beginning to get interesting, as the band built its catalog, the songs were getting more complex and their live show was gelling into the extravagance they'd soon be notorious for.