London’s Queen formed in 1970, pioneers of early hard rock, heavy metal, glam, and producers of some of the singularly most schizophrenic music ever recorded.
Layer upon layer of twinning guitar lines, vocal harmonies and multiple unorthodox instruments, along with strange time signatures not typically approached in popular music, Queen tends to have a very specific and unique sound.
They released their second full-length album, appropriately titled Queen II, in 1974 on EMI Records in the UK and Elektra Records in the US.
Queen II, to me, is the beginning of that Queen sound I’m talking about. On this particular record, though it’s not an actual concept album, themes of light and darkness, of fantasy and fictional worlds, manifest themselves in the dualities of Side White and Side Black, rather than the traditional A and B or 1 and 2.
I’ve always preferred Side Black, with the songs “Ogre Battle,” “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke,” and “The Seven Seas of Rhye” (Rhye being an oft-mentioned fantasy world inside of Freddie Mercury’s head).
Mixed reviews upon its’ release have now given way to accolades of Queen II being some of their finest work, though for me it’s difficult to top 1975’s A Night At The Opera.
I found this US/Elektra gatefold pressing in the $1 bin @ in the early 2000’s.