Sunday, 21 July 2019

Queen "Queen II" (1974)

The iconic cover art of the British Rock legendss second full length is an infamous one but that is mostly thanks to its revival within the Bohemian Rhapsody music video. This record may have otherwise fallen peril to the sands of time if Queen had ended the road here. That is just speculation of course, its a reasonable collection of songs that seem to relish in experimentation and the freedoms of Progressive song writing but little of it goes above and beyond. For me the genius of their sound is closer to an embryonic form, the tones Progressive Rock and a strong shimmer of Glam Rock overwhelm and restrain the diversity that would unfold in albums to come. I could be alone in this though as it seems critics adore this record. Is that retroactive or of the time? Either way I think hearing whats to come has dulled the spark in this second chapter as the styles of Rock and Metal of the era dominate the overall tone at play.

Queen II has a very strong vocal element with many layers of over dubbing creating a sense of grandiose and theater which would be done tastefully later on. In this instance its use is a little excessive and interjects the music like a synth instrument. There are times when it works and others not so much but it is certainly a showcase for Freddie's voice who gets to deploy a fair range of styles in the second half of the album. The whole thing however plays like an aimless journey, each song meanders through its motions with hardly any stand out moments. Its got a consistent tone that pivots with sudden music shifts and Roger Taylor puts his stamp in the middle of the record with The Loser In The End deploying his unique sound.

The records production is a little murky. Mustering roars of Heavy Metal energy from Brian May's guitar often end up in a clatter of collisions compromising clarity. They are often some of the best moments but with a lot going on musically it escapes the recording fidelity. Its clear Queen where being ambitious however many of the compositions and musical stunts pulled off may have been fresh and exciting at the time, it now sounds a little less grounded by the impressive song writing they would develop. Queen were young and youthful and its no surprise they would go on to do great things but at this point they are short. Its a strong, solid record but one that feels like its fallen to time, living in the shadow of sounds outgrown.

Rating: 5/10