Quincy Jones – Ultimate Collection (2002) SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Quincy Jones – Ultimate Collection (2002)
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 75:34 minutes | Scans included | 3,04 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,36 GB

In 1974, Quincy Jones, who already had a wide range of musical credits behind him, opted to enter the R&B mainstream by hiring vocalists and overseeing recordings in a commercial vein released under his name. The first of them was Body Heat, which went gold, and Jones followed with a series of records including 1981’s million-selling The Dude and the 1990 Album of the Year Grammy-winner Back on the Block. Meanwhile, he switched record labels, leaving A&M for his own Warner-distributed Qwest in the early ’80s. That has tended to make the assembly of a comprehensive best-of difficult, but Universal’s Hip-O reissue division specializes in licensing material from other labels to construct its Ultimate Collection releases, and this one borrows seven out of 18 tracks from Qwest to add to Jones’ A&M hits, making it the definitive one-disc compilation of Jones’ pop/R&B recordings of 1974-1999. Jones himself participated in the selection, which does not strictly follow chart rankings, since a couple of R&B Top 20 hits (“I Don’t Go for That” and “Slow Jams”) are missing, while a few non-chart items are included. To get more songs in, the singles edits have been used in many cases. But all the major hits are here. The chronological sequencing allows an appreciation of how Jones’ approach changed over the years. The ’70s stuff, which holds up surprisingly well, is tasty R&B, much of it groove-oriented, up-tempo music. By the late ’80s, however, there are a lot of big, bland ballads that showcase superstar vocalists (Ray Charles, Barry White, etc.) and sound self-important. Like his protégé, Michael Jackson, who went from the rocking “Billie Jean” to the messianic “Man in the Mirror” in the same period, Jones seems to have begun believing his press clippings, and his work suffered accordingly.

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Queen – Greatest Hits II (1991) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2013] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Greatest Hits II (1991) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2013]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 79:52 minutes | Scans included | 2,63 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,67 GB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

The second volume of Queen’s Greatest Hits appeared a decade after the first; a decade after the group started its slow shift from international superstars toward ruling the world that existed outside of the United States. Apart from “Under Pressure” and “Radio Ga Ga,” all of the 17 singles here did not crack the American Top 40, but they’re well-known throughout the world, particularly the operatic anthems “A Kind of Magic,” “I Want It All,” “I Want to Break Free,” and “Who Wants to Live Forever.” Generally, the songs here favor melodrama to untrammeled rock & roll, which means while there’s nothing here that hits as hard as “Tie Your Mother Down”; there’s also nothing as light on its feet as “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” either. This is not necessarily a bad thing: nobody scaled the dramatic heights like Queen, and this captures their pomp & circumstance at its most polished.

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Queen – Greatest Hits (1981) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2013] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Greatest Hits (1981) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2013]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 63:18 minutes | Scans included | 2,14 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,31 GB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

They may not have started out that way, but by 1981 Queen definitely was perceived as a singles act. This record gathers their biggest US/UK hits, 1973-1981, including the collaboration with David Bowie, “Under Pressure,” which was not on the reissue from EMI. Not to be confused with the 1992 Hollywood Records (61625) release also called Greatest Hits.

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Queen – Innuendo (1991) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Innuendo (1991) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 53:51 minutes | Scans included | 2,17 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,24 GB

Unbeknownst to the public, Freddie Mercury had been diagnosed with the AIDS virus in the late ’80s. Although his health weakened by the ’90s, Mercury insisted that the band work on music until the very end; their final album turned out to be 1991’s Innuendo. Although it didn’t receive the same critical praise as its predecessor, 1989’s The Miracle, it was another strong album and global hit (again going gold in the U.S.). With hindsight, the song’s lyrics are blatantly autobiographical from Mercury’s standpoint, such as the reflective “These Are the Days of Our Lives” and the bold “The Show Must Go On.” Also included are a pair of tracks that deal with mankind’s inability to live harmoniously (the superb epic title track and “All God’s People”) and a humorous tribute to Mercury’s beloved pet felines (“Delilah”). Queen’s heavier side is represented by both the rock radio hit “Headlong” and “The Hitman,” while “I’m Going Slightly Mad,” “I Can’t Live With You,” and “Don’t Try So Hard” show the band’s pop sensibilities in full force, and on “Bijou,” Brian May gets to show off his guitar chops. Innuendo was a fitting way to end one of rock’s most successful careers.

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Queen – A Kind Of Magic (1986) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – A Kind Of Magic (1986) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 40:25 minutes | Scans included | 1,65 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 807 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

By the release of 1986’s A Kind of Magic, Queen’s stature as a prominent rock band in the U.S. had slipped considerably, while in all other parts of the world (especially Europe), they remained superstar hitmakers. A Kind of Magic was their biggest album yet in England, where it reached number one, remained on the charts for 63 weeks, and spawned several hit singles – the epic title track, the tuneful pop/rocker “Friends Will Be Friends,” and one of their most haunting ballads, “Who Wants to Live Forever” (also included was the Live Aid-inspired hit anthem “One Vision,” which was originally released as a single in 1985). Most of the songs were written for the movie Highlander – “Gimme the Prize (Kurgan’s Theme),” “Princes of the Universe,” the aforementioned “Who Wants to Live Forever,” etc. – but instead of issuing just a movie soundtrack, the band added a few non-movie tracks and made an official Queen release out of it. It may not have been as cohesive as some of their other albums, but A Kind of Magic was their best work in some time. Queen would embark on a sold-out tour of outdoor stadiums in Europe upon the album’s release, which would sadly turn out to be their final tour.

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Queen – The Works (1984) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – The Works (1984) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 37:15 minutes | Scans included | 1,52 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 753 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

Following the disappointing commercial performance of the dance-oriented Hot Space in 1982, Queen took 1983 off to get refocused and work on a follow-up that would put the band back on track. While the songwriting had definitely improved on the resulting The Works in 1984, the album sonically lacked the punch of such earlier releases as News of the World and The Game (strangely, Hot Space even had a better overall sound). Although the album only peaked at number 23 on the U.S. album charts, it was a Top Ten hit in just about every other area of the world, producing the huge single “Radio Ga Ga.” Three other tracks were hits in Queen’s native England – the uplifting “I Want to Break Free,” the love song “It’s a Hard Life,” and the politically conscious rocker “Hammer to Fall,” which dealt with the danger of nuclear weapons. Other highlights included the ’50s-sounding “Man on the Prowl,” the electronic experiment “Machines,” the thunderous “Tear It Up,” and a touching acoustic ballad, “Is This the World We Created…?” Perhaps with a more straight-ahead production (and a U.S. tour), The Works would have landed Queen back on the top of the charts stateside.

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Queen – Hot Space (1982) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Hot Space (1982) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 43:20 minutes | Scans included | 1,76 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 864 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

Anybody who was a little dismayed by the pop inclinations of The Game would have been totally distressed by Queen’s 1982 follow-up, Hot Space, an unabashed pop and dance album. The band that once proudly proclaimed not to use synthesizers on their albums has suddenly, dramatically reversed course, devoting the entire first side of the album to robotic, new wave dance-pop, all driven by drum machines and colored by keyboards, with Brian May’s guitar coming in as flavor only on occasion. The second side is better, as it finds the group rocking, but there are still electronic drums. But the Beatlesque “Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)” is a sweet, if a bit too literal, tribute and with “Calling All Girls” Queen finally gets synth-driven new wave rock right, resulting in a sharp piece of pop. But the album’s undeniable saving grace is the concluding “Under Pressure,” an utterly majestic, otherworldly duet with David Bowie that recaptures the effortless grace of Queen’s mid-’70s peak, but is underscored with a truly affecting melancholy heart that gives it a genuine human warmth unheard in much of their music. Frankly, “Under Pressure” is the only reason most listeners remember this album, which is as much a testament to the song’s strength as it is to the rather desultory nature of the rest of Hot Space.

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Queen – The Game (1980) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – The Game (1980) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 35:42 minutes | Scans included | 1,44 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 733 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

Queen had long been one of the biggest bands in the world by 1980’s The Game, but this album was the first time they made a glossy, unabashed pop album, one that was designed to sound exactly like its time. They might be posed in leather jackets on the cover, but they hardly sound tough or menacing – they rarely rock, at least not in the gonzo fashion that’s long been their trademark. Gone are the bombastic orchestras of guitars and with them the charging, relentless rhythms that kept Queen grounded even at their grandest moments. Now, when they rock, they’ll haul out a clever rockabilly pastiche, as they do on the tremendous “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” a sly revival of old-time rock & roll that never sounds moldy, thanks in large part to Freddie Mercury’s panache. But even that is an exception to the rule on The Game. Usually, when they want to rock here, they wind up sounding like Boston, as they do on John Deacon’s “Need Your Loving Tonight,” or they sound a bit like a new wave-conscious rocker like Billy Squier, as they do on the propulsive “Coming Soon.” But even those are exceptions to the overall rule on The Game, since most of the album is devoted to disco-rock blends – best heard on the globe-conquering “Another One Bites the Dust,” but also present in the unintentionally kitschy positivity anthem “Don’t Try Suicide” – and the majestic power ballads that became their calling card in the ’80s, as they reworked the surging “Save Me” and the elegant “Play the Game” numerous times, often with lesser results. So, The Game winds up as a mixed bag, as many Queen albums often do, but again the striking difference with this album is that it finds Queen turning decidedly, decisively pop, and it’s a grand, state-of-the-art circa 1980 pop album that still stands as one of the band’s most enjoyable records. But the very fact that it does showcase a band that’s turned away from rock and toward pop means that for some Queen fans, it marks the end of the road, and despite the album’s charms, it’s easy to see why.

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Queen – Flash Gordon (1980) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Flash Gordon (1980) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 35:10 minutes | Scans included | 1,42 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 649 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

While writing and recording The Game, Queen were asked by renowned movie director Dino DeLaurentis to provide the soundtrack for his upcoming sci-fi epic Flash Gordon. The band accepted and promptly began working on both albums simultaneously. Although at first many fans criticized Flash Gordon since it was issued as an official Queen release rather than a motion picture soundtrack, it has proven to be one of rock’s better motion picture soundtracks over the years. The majority of the music is instrumental, with dialogue from the movie in place of Freddie Mercury’s singing (only two tracks contain lyrics), but the songwriting is still unmistakably Queen. Highlights abound, such as “Football Fight,” “Vultan’s Theme (Attack of the Hawkmen),” “The Wedding March,” and the heavy metal roar of “Battle Theme.” But it was the two more conventional songs that were the album’s two best tracks – the anthemic U.K. Top Ten hit “Flash’s Theme” and the woefully underrated rocker “The Hero.” With Queen involved, Flash Gordon is certainly not your average, predictable soundtrack.

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Queen – Jazz (1978) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Jazz (1978) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 44:52 minutes | Scans included | 1,82 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 907 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

Famously tagged as “fascist” in a Rolling Stone review printed at the time of its 1978 release, Jazz does indeed showcase a band that does thrive upon its power, thrilling upon the hold that it has on its audience. That confidence, that self-intoxication, was hinted at on News of the World but it takes full flower here, and that assurance acts as a cohesive device, turning this into one of Queen’s sleekest albums. Like its patchwork predecessor, Jazz also dabbles in a bunch of different sounds – that’s a perennial problem with Queen, where the four songwriters were often pulling in different directions – but it sounds bigger, heavier than News, thanks to the mountains of guitars Brian May has layered all over this record. If May has indulged himself, Freddie Mercury runs riot all over this album, infusing it with an absurdity that’s hard to resist. This goofiness is apparent from the galloping overture “Mustapha,” and things only get a lot sillier from that point out, as the group sings the praises of “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bicycle Races,” as May and Mercury have an unspoken competition on who can overdub the most onto a particular track while Roger Taylor steers them toward their first disco song in the gloriously dumb “Fun It.” But since over-the-top campiness has always been an attribute in Queen, this kind of grand-scale exaggeration gives Jazz a sense of ridiculousness that makes it more fun than many of their other albums.

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Queen – News Of The World (1977) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – News Of The World (1977) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:15 minutes | Scans included | 1,6 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 821 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

If Day at the Races was a sleek, streamlined album, its 1977 successor, News of the World, was its polar opposite, an explosion of styles that didn’t seem to hold to any particular center. It’s front-loaded with two of Queen’s biggest anthems – the stomping, stadium-filling chant “We Will Rock You” and its triumphant companion, “We Are the Champions” – which are quickly followed by the ferocious “Sheer Heart Attack,” a frenzied rocker that hits harder than anything on the album that shares its name (a remarkable achievement in itself). Three songs, three quick shifts in mood, but that’s hardly the end of it. As the News rolls on, you’re treated to the arch, campy crooning of “My Melancholy Blues,” a shticky blues shuffle in “Sleeping on the Sidewalk,” and breezy Latin rhythms on “Who Needs You.” Then there’s the neo-disco of “Fight from the Inside,” which is eclipsed by the mechanical funk of “Get Down, Make Love,” a dirty grind that’s stripped of sensuality. That cold streak on “Get Down, Make Love” runs through the album as a whole. Despite the explosion of sounds and rhythms, this album doesn’t add up to party thanks to that slightly distancing chilly vibe that hangs over the album. Nevertheless, many of these songs work well on their own as entities, so there is plenty to savor here, especially from Brian May. Whether he’s doing the strangely subdued eccentric English pop “All Dead, All Dead” or especially the majestic yet nimble rocker “It’s Late,” he turns in work that gives this album some lightness, which it needs. And that’s the reason News of the World was a monster hit despite its coldness – when it works, it’s massive, earth-shaking rock & roll, the sound of a band beginning to revel in its superstardom.

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Queen – A Day At The Races (1976) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – A Day At The Races (1976) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 44:11 minutes | Scans included | 3,55 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 898 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

In every sense, A Day at the Races is an unapologetic sequel to A Night at the Opera, the 1975 breakthrough that established Queen as rock & roll royalty. The band never attempts to hide that the record is a sequel – the two albums boast the same variation on the same cover art, the titles are both taken from old Marx Brothers films and serve as counterpoints to each other. But even though the two albums look the same, they don’t quite sound the same, A Day at the Races is a bit tighter than its predecessor, yet tighter doesn’t necessarily mean better for a band as extravagant as Queen. One of the great things about A Night at the Opera is that the lingering elements of early Queen – the pastoral folk of “39,” the metallic menace of “Death on Two Legs” – dovetailed with an indulgence of camp and a truly, well, operatic scale. Here, the eccentricities are trimmed back somewhat – they still bubble up on “The Millionaire Waltz,” an example of the music hall pop that dominated Night, the pro-Native American saga “White Man” is undercut somewhat by the cowboys ‘n’ indians rhythms – in favor of a driving, purposeful hard rock that still could have some slyly hidden perversities (or in the case of the opening “Tie Your Mother Down,” some not-so-hidden perversity) but this is exquisitely detailed hard rock, dense with minutiae but never lush or fussy. In a sense, it could even function as the bridge between Sheer Heart Attack and Night at the Opera – it’s every bit as hard as the former and nearly as florid as the latter – but its sleek, streamlined finish is the biggest indication that Queen has entered a new phase, where they’re globe-conquering titans instead of underdogs on the make.

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Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 43:06 minutes | Scans included | 1,75 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 869 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

Queen were straining at the boundaries of hard rock and heavy metal on Sheer Heart Attack, but they broke down all the barricades on A Night at the Opera, a self-consciously ridiculous and overblown hard rock masterpiece. Using the multi-layered guitars of its predecessor as a foundation, A Night at the Opera encompasses metal (“Death on Two Legs,” “Sweet Lady”), pop (the lovely, shimmering “You’re My Best Friend”), campy British music hall (“Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon,” “Seaside Rendezvous”), and mystical prog rock (“’39,” “The Prophet’s Song”), eventually bringing it all together on the pseudo-operatic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In short, it’s a lot like Queen’s own version of Led Zeppelin IV, but where Zep find dark menace in bombast, Queen celebrate their own pomposity. No one in the band takes anything too seriously, otherwise the arrangements wouldn’t be as ludicrously exaggerated as they are. But the appeal – and the influence – of A Night at the Opera is in its detailed, meticulous productions. It’s prog rock with a sense of humor as well as dynamics, and Queen never bettered their approach anywhere else.

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Queen – Sheer Heart Attack (1974) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Sheer Heart Attack (1974) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:00 minutes | Scans included | 1,59 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 791 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

Queen II was a breakthrough in terms of power and ambition, but Queen’s third album Sheer Heart Attack was where the band started to gel. It followed quickly on the heels of the second record – just by a matter of months; it was the second album they released in 1974 – but it feels like it had a longer incubation period, so great is the progress here. Which isn’t quite to say that Sheer Heart Attack is flawless – it still has a tendency to meander, sometimes within a song itself, as when the killer opening “Brighton Rock” suddenly veers into long stretches of Brian May solo guitar – but all these detours do not distract from the overall album, they’re in many ways the key to the record itself: it’s the sound of Queen stretching their wings as they learn how to soar to the clouds. There’s a genuine excitement in hearing all the elements to Queen’s sound fall into place here, as the music grows grander and catchier without sacrificing their brutal, hard attack. One of the great strengths of the album is how all four members find their voices as songwriters, penning hooks that are big, bold, and insistent and crafting them in songs that work as cohesive entities instead of flourishes of ideas. This is evident not just in “Killer Queen” – the first, best flourishing of Freddie Mercury’s vaudevillian camp – but also on the pummeling “Stone Cold Crazy,” a frenzied piece of jagged metal that’s all the more exciting because it has a real melodic hook. Those hooks are threaded throughout the record, on both the ballads and the other rockers, but it isn’t just that this is poppier, it’s that they’re able to execute their drama with flair and style. There are still references to mystical worlds (“Lily of the Valley,” “In the Lap of Gods”) but the fantasy does not overwhelm as it did on the first two records; the theatricality is now wielded on everyday affairs, which ironically makes them sound larger than life. And this sense of scale, combined with the heavy guitars, pop hooks, and theatrical style, marks the true unveiling of Queen, making Sheer Heart Attack as the moment where they truly came into their own.

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Queen – Queen II (1974) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011] SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Queen – Queen II (1974) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 40:47 minutes | Scans included | 1,66 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 813 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011

In one regard, Queen II does indeed provide more of the same thing as on the band’s debut. Certainly, of all the other albums in Queen’s catalog it bears the closest resemblance to its immediate predecessor, particularly in its lean, hard attack and in how it has only one song that is well-known to listeners outside of their hardcore cult: in this case, it’s “Seven Seas of Rhye,” which is itself more elliptical than “Keep Yourself Alive,” the big song from the debut. But these similarities are superficial and Queen II is a very different beast than its predecessor, an album that is richer, darker, and weirder, an album that finds Queen growing as a band by leaps and bounds. There is still a surplus of ideas, but their energies are better focused this time around, channeled into a over-inflated, pompous rock that could be called prog if it wasn’t so heavy. Even with all the queens and ogres that populate Queen II, this never feels as fantastical as Genesis or Uriah Heep, and that’s because Queen hits hard as a rock band here, where even the blasts of vocal harmonies feel like power chords, no matter how florid they are. Besides, these grandiose harmonies, along with the handful of wistful ballads here, are overshadowed by the onslaught of guitars and pummeling rhythms that give Queen II majesty and menace. Queen is coiled, tense, and vicious here, delivering on their inherent sense of drama, and that gives Queen II real power as music, as well as a true cohesion. The one thing that is missing is any semblance of a pop sensibility, even when they flirt with a mock Phil Spector production on “Funny How Love Is.” This hits like heavy metal but has an art-rock sensibility through and through, which also means that it has no true hook in for those who don’t want to succumb to Queen’s world. But that kind of insular drama is quite alluring in its own right, which is why Queen II is one of the favorites of their hardcore fans. At the very least, it illustrates that Queen is starting to pull all their ambitions and influences into a signature sound, and it’s quite powerful in that regard.

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