"Under-Appreciated Queen Songs" Playlist: Part IIb
Current mood: Queeny
Heh heh. It's been a while since I wrote one of these. As if anybody is following them. I've just felt lazy lately, so I didn't really have the motivation to write this, but I did have the knowledge. Kind of like in "Ender's Game" when Ender wrote down Peter's life story via the machine (I forget it's name), since Peter was too lazy to write it himself.
Whatever, let's get going on Queen's greatest era, Queen II. This blog is on the "Black Side" of Queen II, since the Back and White sides are so different, yet so similar.
I should add that this user, David R Fuller, posts many great Queen videos including unreleased tracks from the Innuendo/Miracle era. But that's a different era of Queen.
As is the case with the White Side, this side has all the songs weave into each other seamlessly, making the listening of individual songs slightly uncomfortable. But like I said in the last blog, you should really give this album a full listen nonetheless.
The song starts off with a gong hit from the previous track "Ogre Battle," flowing into an opening by (my favorite instrument) a harpsichord. Right off the bat you can hear the signature Queen harmonizing vocals kick in, putting you in a state of confusion and craze, which is what Freddie wanted to do with this song. He based it off the painting of the same name featured in the video. As Freddie leads the vocals through, he uses a "call-and-response" technique familiar in many other early Queen recordings, most prominent on the next album in our series, "Sheer Heart Attack."
As the song progresses, you may start to wonder what the lyrics are about. It's okay, I still don't know what he's saying . 1:08 is a great point in the song, displaying the vocal range of young Freddie and Roger (that's the drummer for you Queen noobs). Following that at 1:24 is a vocal harmony solo (for lack of a better term) and following that, a harpsichord solo with vocal accompaniment.
Yes, this song is extremely unorthodox in every way possible. The unorthodox-ness of this song is what first attracted me to the early Queen sound. Now I know I've been using reoccuring terms like "early Queen" and "young Freddie" but these are for compare and contrast in the furture blogs. I really wish I could explain the song further, but there really is no explanation for Queen, at all .
I promise I'll have more to offer in the next installment: Sheer Heart Attack.
March of the Black Queen- As amazing as a song this is, it is the only song that ever gets credit off this album, and it pesters me when there are such songs as "Fairy Feller" on the very same album.
Ogre Battle- This was a very close contender, containing amazing sounds and spectacles of equal grandiose to "Fairy Feller."
Seven Seas of Rhye- While this wasn't on the level of complexity as the aforementioned, it still provides the most "radio-friendly" side of early Queen as per the fact that it was Queen's breakthrough single.
"Under-Appreciated Queen Songs" Playlist: Part IIw
Ohhh lawdy, here it comes, Queen II, their best album (in my opinion). There are so many great songs on this album that almost nobody knows, since this and Queen's eponymous album are the most unknown of their catalog. I think I'll start off by listing songs that most would think I would mention.
Although this is a great song, probably the best on the album, "March of the Black Queen" didn't make the cut. I wanted people to hear a different side of Queen, and whenever this album is brought up everyone obsesses over "Black Queen." Another thing I'd like to point out for the future is that none of my chosen songs will be singles, meaning that they had gotten some airplay at one point. This, in turn, rules out "Seven Seas of Rhye." Yet another great song in its own right, also launching Queen to their first international success.
Heh, after thinking about it, I can't really decide on one song to represent this marvelous album. So I've decided to dedicate one song to the "White" side (side A), and one to the Black side (side B).
Right off the bat we get a delicious taste of young Brian May's orchestral guitar sorcery. For those of you who haven't listened to the entire album in full, this album uses a technique of blending the songs into each other, making no direct "transition" from each song to the next. This is what you hear with May's guitar coming from the previous track "Father to Son" (yet another great song off this album). The song itself starts off with some nice phaser-filled arpeggios from May, accompanied by lyrics from Mercury (duh). The atmosphere created from the phaser gives a swirling "out-of-this-world" sound to the mix, allowing for Mercury's voice to take you on a journey.
At 1:19 the song starts to take on a new atmosphere, guided by the backing vocals. But this transition isn't such a smooth one, at 1:33 the song takes on a more "hard rock" vibe, noted most by May's dynamically-enhanced guitar and the entire band's syllable accents on Mercury's voice. At around 2:00 the original theme resumes, but the song is still left with a touch of heaviness by May's quintessential guitar feedback.
The bridge of the song occurs around the 2:30 mark with May's guitar setting another mood with the beautiful orchestral arrangement that it is. Part of the chorus' theme is included but is soon overtaken by what i believe to be a nylon-string acoustic, May (pun intended) be a classical guitar as well, at the 2:43 mark. This guitar makes multiple appearances on other Queen albums, most noted by the sound of the nylon "buzzing" sound (most likely to do with the action of the guitar). The guitar is led along by backing vocals and, slowly but surely, a gong (most likely played in reverse based on the similar sound in "Ogre Battle").
The song returns back to the original theme at 3:26, but the solo is not yet over. May's guitar rebuilds the main theme alongside his layered guitar orchestra in the background. Mercury resumes the vocals and the song ends almost the same "As It Began." cwatididther?
Queen II as an album itself is a great work of art, and I highly advise anyone and everyone to give it a listen. If you don't like it, that's fine. But make sure you give each side a listen. IMO the "Black" side is better than the "White." And both are better than "Hot Space" (which I rue the day I do a blog for )
Be back tomorrow (if I'm not lazy) for the "Black" side to Queen II.
Since I'm a bit obsessed with Queen and all their glory, I figured that the media-choked world could use a nice refreshing playlist of some of their lesser-known songs. I'll choose one song a day ( or more if I feel like it) from each album (discluding the Flash Gordon soundtrack) that displays a different side to Queen that some may not know.
This song captures, in my opinion, Brian May's greatest early guitar work. And that's including "Brighton Rock." The topping to his amazing playing is the treble saturated tone he gets from what I presume to be his Deacy amp and a wah pedal. Such examples of his tone occur at 1:18 during the pre-chorus, and around 1:36 during his solo in the linked video. Another key point of the early Queen sound occurs around 2:30, where the tempo and altogether atmosphere of the song changes. Since this was a "pre-fame" Queen, song format was not an issue. Rather than relying heavily on rock anthems, this Queen was a sort of band that could throw together random bits and pieces of whatever style they wanted to and make a hell of a song out of.
This part of the song also intrigues me because of the "storytelling" atmosphere set to it. Where Freddie just sings a short tale about "the Lord" , most likely referring to Jesus Christ. After this brief "story" , the song makes another dynamic and stylistic transition into one of Brian May's genius guitar interludes @3:40, setting the mood for a soothing outro.
But alas, there's still another two minutes to the song! And this is where the song climaxes all over your whore body. At 3:57 the song picks back up pace and resumes the original theme. At 4:16 the song transitions into a nice instrumental interlude led by none other than Brian May. I wouldn't necessarily call this a solo because of Roger's intense drumming not backing, but co-singing (for lack of a better term) with May's guitar playing.
At 4:54 the band is given a (rightfully deserved) round of applause, most likely from their "studio" audience. cwatididther? And the song returns back to the initial theme. I would like to point out at the 5:08 mark, it may sound like a guitar alone, but Mercury is actually singing along to May's guitar solo, demonstrating young Mercury's fantastic higher register. The song ends with a drum solo by Mr. Roger Taylor @5:35. Apparently this was supposed to weave into another song on the LP but didn't quite make the cut. -------------------------------------------------- ---------------- Other honorable mentions from this album include:
Doin' All Right- I initially planned to write the blog on this song, but after realizing that it was a Tim Staffel (Smile/Queen before they were Queen) song, I didn't think it was in the Queen spirit.
My Fairy King-Displays the musicianship of early Queen, including key roles by every instrument. Yes...even Deacon John on Bass (Queen joke). I think the main reason I didn't write the blog on this song was because of its complexity, and my insufficient vocabulary on how to describe my thoughts on it.
P.S. If I ever fall behind/start getting lazy about writing these, then comment or shoot me a PM of motivation. Thanks.