The first track - "Father To Son" - starts off with an introduction. After it gets into the song and a few words are sung, it immediatly it goes into a six-parts orchestral kind of thing. It was really a big thrill for me to be able to do that, because I had never been allowed to spend that amount of time in the studio to construct those things before then. That was the fulfillment of an ambition for me, to get started on that road of using the guitar as kind of an orchestral instrument.
All through his childhood, music had been Brian's main hobby, but we had thought of it only as a hobby even though we are a musical family. About the time of Queen II we started to see the possibilities that the group had, musically. We still think that Queen II was a masterpiece - and that's why Brian gave us the gold disc he got from that album to hang on the wall. We felt that that album contained much of the group's most emotional and heartfelt music, and to us it is full of obvious tracks of teenage conflict like Father to Son, which Brian wrote… I think all teenagers have emotional conflicts, and we can hear it in that song.
On Queen II there is a lot of stuff which I like because that was the beginning of doing guitar orchestrations, which I always wanted to do. The first track - Father to Son - starts off with an introduction. After it gets into the song and a few words are sung, it immediately it goes into a six-part orchestral kind of thing. It was really a big thrill for me to be able to do that, because I had never been allowed to spend that amount of time in the studio to construct those things before then. That was the fulfilment of an ambition for me, to get started on that road of using the guitar as kind of an orchestral instrument.
[The Who and Led Zeppelin] are probably in there somewhere, I think we liked, they were our favourite groups among a few others. But what we were trying to do differently from either of those groups really was this sort of layered sound. See, The Who had a sort of clang guitar sound, you know the open chord guitar sound. There is a bit of that in Father to Son, but our sound is sort of more based around the overdriven guitar sound which is what is used on the main bulk of the song. Also, what I wanted to do was this business of building up textures behind the main melody lines. So you have in the first entry of the vocal behind it there is a sort of orchestral thing, which is a nine-part guitar thing that was my expedition into sort of proper orchestrating of the guitar. So that was one thing. It's amazing how few people knew what we were doing. We wanted to make a kind of rock music that still had the power of, like, The Who or Led Zeppelin, but which had more melody more harmony and more texture than had been done before. That was one of the first songs we did it on and there's loads of harmonies, loads of guitar harmonies and loads of bits of melody.
[The ending solo] is just a little improvised playing along piece, but it's the way that I normally think, which is playing across the chord rather than playing in scales.
I have a great affection for that second album, which never really became a world-beater because it was not perhaps as accessible as Bohemian Rhapsody. But if you listen to things like The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke or Father to Son, all the elements that people loved in Bohemian Rhapsody were there.
For the record, as far as I remember, I played piano on: Doin' All Right, Father to Son, Now I'm Here, Dear Friends, Teo Toriatte, All Dead All Dead. Notably NOT on Sail Away Sweet Sister - I got Freddie to learn it and play it with Roger and John for the backing track - I wanted his marvellous rhythm and percussive feel on piano - but yes on Save Me, Las Palabras de Amor, Flash and The Hero (plus organ on the Wedding). But from here on in we began using synthesisers and there were many excursions from us all into keyboard territory… The only pure piece of piano from this era from me is Forever - which was a doodle done live in the studio which I rescued for a bonus track later on.
There's a place somewhere in the middle of Father to Son - I think it's the beginning of the second verse - when suddenly the whole of the army of guitars kicks in. And that, to me… I remember hearing that back - and I'm not even sure how many guitars are on there, probably double figures - and for the first time, I heard that guitar orchestra coming back at me, and it was what I'd dreamed of since I'd heard Jeff Beck doing his Hi Ho Silver Lining. That's what I wanted, in my head.
I remember playing the song Father to Son a lot. Brian couldn't make up his mind on some songs… And he kept changing the arrangement then wondering why I wasn't fitting in with him!