Enthusiasts, you know that I despise gatekeeping, or fan snobbery of any sort. Just because you’re obsessive about something utterly pointless that someone else has the temerity to only mildly enjoy doesn’t give you the right to be a dick, and absolutely nothing warrants assholishness towards those just getting into the subject. We were all noobs once.
That said: if Queen II isn’t your favorite album, then you’re not a real Queen fan. I will accept no arguments about this: Night at the Opera is a masterpiece, and Jazz has its defenders, but this is the pure stuff: grand and silly and loud as hell, and damnably optimistic, and thoroughly British with harmonies–HARMONIES FUCKING EVERYWHERE–and no fucking synthesizers.
(That’s not me saying that: Queen put the phrase on their album covers, up until the 80’s, when they could legally no longer make the statement.)
Queen II came out in 1974, and this is what Queen looked like at the time, with their shirts off for some reason:
Look how angry and ashamed John Deacon is. Dammit, Freddie Mercury: don’t make John Deacon take his shirt off for a photo session. John Deacon wants to be fiddling with gadgets in his shed while he smokes a pipe, not trying to be sexy. Someone get a John Deacon a damn shirt.
TotD is a John Deacon fan, let’s just get that straight up front. I played bass, terribly, in a band in high school and he was the guy I wanted to sound like. Even as a young moron, I thought that bass players should shut the fuck up and play the song, and John Deacon does that really well: his lines are melodic without ever being flashy, and he locks in with the drums and plays the bass part. Every other bass player in my high school wanted to do that slapping bullshit, but I liked Deacy and James Jamerson.
That said: at no point during Queen’s career did John Deacon ever not have the worst haircut. And it was close at times, as these men have had some legendarily awful haircuts, but John always won.
This is Live Aid, which is not happening now–we’re in 1974, stay with me–but will surely be mentioned as Queen’s Live Aid show is worth talking about, now and forever, but this is what John Deacon’s hair looked like:
I’m not even going to mention the jeans. That’s how amazing that haircut is.
But I was talking about Queen II. Which you should listen to. Here is it:
This is the
I’m back, I’m back.
Where’d you go?
March of the Black Queen came on.
Oh, yeah. You gotta listen hard to that shit.
Demands your attention, the tune does.
Get back to work.
Okay, so this is the album where Queen begins to sound like Queen: the harmonies are in place, and the ridiculous dynamic swoops and curves on the songs, plus there was a hit single–Seven Seas of Rhye–and Queen would become exceptionally good at writing hit singles. (Which is one of the many reasons the Important Rock Critics despised them so.)
It’s also the most cohesive of their albums. Each side (the White Side and the Black Side: nothing as pedestrian as Side A and Side B for Freddie, darling) is a mini-suite, and it may in fact be the siliest of all Silly Rock tropes: the Concept Album.
We’re getting into dangerous waters, here, Enthusiasts, ontologically speaking: what constitutes a Concept Album? Does it require a coherent throughline–The Wall or Tommy–or can the songs attend to the dreary workings of the plot in a more oblique fashion? Because Queen II has a concept.
“There’s a white queen, darling, and she looks just spectacular, and there’s also a black queen, who is fabulous. Just fabulous. A boy, a village, leaving home, blah blah blah–Roger, you can write that one–and then an ogre gets battled, and then there’s a wedding at the end. Where’s my champagne?”
(I am assuming that Freddie came up with the concept, obviously.)
But there’s no actual story.
What there is, is their best record, although if you poked at me like the Pillsbury Dough Pervert*, then I might be biased in favor of the more obscure Queen stuff. It’s more authentic, man.
*That fucker loves being poked: he gets off on it. That sound he makes? “TEE-hee?” That’s him cumming.**
**It tastes like frosting, and is delicious.