Queen II


Again, very little specific information is available. If the liner notes are accurate (which is debatable: more on that later), then it's one of two Queen albums to have been recorded in just one location, Trident Studios in this case (the other one's The Game at Musicland). Considering it was mostly tracked mere weeks after its predecessor had been released, it's quite likely that they used the same technology (16-track analogue tape-recorder, similar mics, amps, consoles and monitors). This time John Anthony was out of the picture and Roy Baker had been promoted from deputy to head producer. He also began the sessions engineering but soon left those duties to Michael Stone, who had been there for the first album as well.

Roy left for some days amidst the sessions and Robin Cable took over. Assistant engineers included Nicholas Bradford and Neil Kernon, both of whom were part of the Trident in-house staff. Queen had more freedom to use the main studio as they pleased as most of their top clients were at that point coincidentally recording elsewhere: Elton John and David Bowie in France, John Lennon and Carly Simon in the States, Paul McCartney in Nigeria, Ace and Peter Hammill in Wales, Genesis at Island in Notting Hill (London), Harry Nilsson at the Music Centre in Wembley (London), Mott the Hoople at AIR and EMI in Westminster (London), Lewis Reed at Morgan in Willesden (London).

Backing tracks were still done live but some of the songs may have had different sections done separately and then mixed together. Regarding vocal harmonies, they seemed to have moved on to a different approach: the three founding members would gather around the same microphone and sing each part (unless it was either too high or too low, in which case it would just be Roger or Frederick, respectively).

Available Sources

Most information on studio equipment is taken from the previous album under the assumption it didn't change dramatically since then.

The 2011 Stormtroopers in Stilletos exhibition included a tape box dated from the 6th of August, revealing some details on what they were doing that day as well as who the engineers were. Neil Kernon, who worked alongside Michael Stone for a significant part of the sessions, posted on the Gear-Slutz forum and helped fill the gaps.

Considering a tape of 'Procession' was used at the end of the year to open the shows and it was clearly not the same version of the album, it can be strongly hypothesised that at least some sessions took place in early 1974.

No multitracks have leaked from these sessions, although there are stems from 'Seven Seas of Rhye' which were cracked from the videogame Rock Band 3, as that song was included as part of the second Queen Extravaganza Pack released on Tuesday 6th of December 2011 for Play Station 3, Xbox 360 and Wii.

Documented Timeline

  • 1973:
    • 28th July: An interview with Brian May and Frederick Mercury is published. They reveal the second album is planned to feature a 'Good vs Evil' theme.
    • Early August: Album sessions begin at Trident. Roy Baker has, at this point, a double role as producer and chief engineer, assisted by Nicholas Bradford.
    • Monday 6th August: Takes 12 to 16 of 'Seven Seas of Rhye' and takes 1 to 4 of 'Father to Son'. Team is still Roy Baker and Nicholas Bradford.
    • 7th - 31st August: Most of the album is recorded, with Roy Baker and Robin Cable taking turns producing (Roy left the country for a week or so to work with his other client, Gasolin', in Copenhagen).
    • Thursday 13th September: First documented use of 'Procession' as a taped intro for a concert. The version is definitely not the same one as on the album.
  • 1974:
    • January:
      • Presumably, that's when 'Procession' is overdubbed and re-mixed. It's also possible that other final touches for the album are done here, as well as the B-Side of the single.
      • Saturday 19th: Album is mastered.
    • February: The first Fan Club Newsletter is published, informing subscribers of the upcoming album and single and reporting 'See What a Fool I've Been' wouldn't be on the album.
      • Friday 22nd: The lead single, 'Seven Seas of Rhye' / 'See What a Fool I've Been', is released in Britain.
    • March:
      • Friday 1st: The promotional tour for the album kicks off in Blackpool, Lancashire, England.
      • Saturday 2nd: Concert in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. A paper article written a few days later by Peter Makowski confirms they'd already incorporated yet-to-be-released songs into their setlist (namely, 'Ogre Battle' and 'Father to Son') as well as their current single, 'Seven Seas of Rhye' - which means either the 1st or the 2nd of March 1974 marked the first instance of Frederick playing piano on a Queen concert.
      • Friday 8th: The album is released in Britain.
    • April:
      • Tuesday 2nd: Headlining tour finishes with a concert in Birmingham, West Midlands.
      • Tuesday 16th: Queen's first concert in the USA, at Regis College in Denver, Colorado, supporting Mott the Hoople.
    • May:
      • Saturday 11th: Queen open for Mott the Hoople at the Uris Theatre in New York, but are forced to return to England soon after this concert because of Brian's illness.
      • Saturday 25th: Billboard, quoting Telemoustique, confirms the album has made it to No 1 in the Belgian charts, being the band's first record ever to get to No 1 somewhere on the planet.
    • December: The second Official Fan Club Newsletter is published, including a short biography and questionnaire for every band member. One of the questions is 'favourite album': Frederick chose John Lennon's Imagine (and that was long before he died so it wasn't out of hype); Brian chose The Beatles' Abbey Road and Hendrix's Band of Gypsys; Roger chose Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Beatles by ... well, The Beatles; and John chose Queen II.
  • 1975:
    • Sunday 1st of June: The album is certified both Silver and Gold in Britain, after having sold £100,000 and £250,000, respectively. The fact both accolades took place the same day suggests a sudden increase in sales, possibly due to news of how successful their Sheer Heart Attack tour had been in Japan.
  • 1978:
    • February: The Fan Club magazine, on its Q&A section, features an American fan inquiring about 'See What a Fool I've Been'. She's told Brian had arranged it from a traditional blues number, but no more details are given.

Documented Recording Venue

  • Trident Studios on 17 St Anne's Court, Soho, City of Westminster, London W1F 0BQ, England. The album liner notes only mention these studios, though it doesn't necessarily guarantee they didn't record anywhere else.

Documented Personnel

  • Performers:
    • The band:
      • John Deacon: Electric bass, acoustic guitar.
      • Brian May: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, acoustic piano, tubular bells.
      • Frederick Mercury: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic piano, harpsichord.
      • Roger Taylor: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic drums, additional percussion (gong, tambourine, marimba).
    • Guest musicians:
      • Roy Baker: Castanets, stylophone.
      • Uncredited: Additional backing vocals.
  • Studio Crew:
    • Head Producers:
      • Roy Baker.
      • Robin Cable.
    • Engineers:
      • Roy Baker: 'Father to Son' and 'Seven Seas of Rhye'.
      • Nicholas Bradford: 'Father to Son' and 'Seven Seas of Rhye'.
      • Neil Kernon.
      • Michael Stone.
  • Technical Crew:
    • Jonathan Harris: Equipment supervision.
    • Michael Rock: Photography.

Documented Instruments

  • Keyboards:
    • Bechstein V 6' 7" Acoustic Piano (five tracks).
    • Dubreq Bass Stylophone ('Seven Seas of Rhye').
    • Unknown Harpsichord ('The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke').
    • Unknown Jangle Piano (possibly: 'Seven Seas of Rhye').
  • Percussion:
    • Ludwig Bespoke Drums.
    • Paiste Symphonic 60" Gong ('White Queen', 'Ogre Battle').
    • Premier New Era Castanets ('Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke').
    • Premier New Era Marimba ('The Loser in the End').
    • Premier New Era Tambourine ('Father to Son', 'Seven Seas of Rhye').
    • Premier New Era Tubular Bells ('The March of the Black Queen').
  • Strings:
    • BHM Bespoke Electric Guitar (possibly all of the tracks).
    • Fender Precision Electric Bass (all of the tracks except for 'Procession').
    • Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar (possibly used as spare).
    • Hallfredh Acoustic Guitar ('White Queen').
    • Martin Acoustic Guitar (possibly 3-4 different tracks).

Documented Studio Equipment

  • Analogue Tape Recorders:
    • 3M M-56 16-Track.
  • Mixing Consoles:
    • Trident A 3224 (Studio 1).
    • Sound Techniques 2408 (Studio 2).
  • Monitors:
    • JBL 4350 Speakers in Lockwood Cabinets driven by HH Amplifiers (Studio 1).
    • Tannoy Red Speakers in Lockwood Cabinets driven by Radford Amplifiers (Studio 2).
  • Microphones:
    • AKG:
      • C-12 and C-12A: Possibly used on bass, especially if/when they were after a Beatles-esque sound.
      • C-28: Tom-toms and electric guitars.
      • C-451: Possibly used for drum overheads.
      • D-12: Main bass-drum mic.
      • D-202: Percussion and bass (the signal coming directly from the amp).
      • D-224: Hi-hats.
    • Electrovoice RE-20: Possibly used occasionally on the bass-drum and for electric guitar.
    • Neumann:
      • KM-54 and KM-56: Snare and tom-toms.
      • U-67: Main mic for vocals and piano, and also occasionally for drum overheads.
    • Sennheiser MD-441: Hi-hats and perhaps also occasionally for vocals.
    • Sony C-38B: Snare drums.
  • Outboard Signal Processors:
    • Astronics A-1671 Graphic Equaliser.
    • Dolby Noise Reduction.
    • EMT 140 Plate Reverb.
    • Pultec EQP-1A Tube Equaliser.
    • Teletronix LA-2A Compressors.
    • UREI 1176 Limiters.
    • UREI LA-3A Limiters.

Myths, Legends & Ongoing Debates

  • Discarded Material: Every once in a while stories come regarding alleged songs which were written and possibly recorded for this album but ultimately left out. However, whenever said 'sources' have been asked for evidence, they get needlessly aggressive, which doesn't help their credibility...