QUEEN — Sheer Heart Attack

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QUEEN - Sheer Heart Attack cover
4.10 | 48 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1974

Filed under Proto-Metal


1. Brighton Rock (5:11)
2. Killer Queen (3:00)
3. Tenement Funster (2:47)
4. Flick Of The Wrist (3:17)
5. Lily Of The Valley (1:45)
6. Now I'm Here (4:15)
7. In The Lap Of The Gods (3:22)
8. Stone Cold Crazy (2:16)
9. Dear Friends (1:08)
10. Misfire (1:50)
11. Bring Back That Leroy Brown (2:15)
12. She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettos) (4:09)
13. In The Lap Of The Gods (Revisited) (3:45)

Total Time 39:07


- Freddie Mercury / vocals, piano
- Brian May / guitars, vocals, piano, ukulele, banjo, organ
- Roger Taylor / drums, percussion, vocals
- John Deacon / bass guitar, guitars, double-bass

About this release

8 November 1974

Reissued in 1991 by Hollywood Records with the following bonus track:

14. Stone Cold Crazy (remix by Michael Wagener, 1991) (2:15)

Reissued in 2011 by Universal Records with a bonus disc with the following tracklist:

1. Now I'm Here (Live At Hammersmith Odeon, December, 1975) (4:25)
2. Flick Of The Wrist (BBC Session, October, 1974) (3:24)
3. Tenement Funster (BBC Session, October, 1974) (2:58)
4. Bring Back That Leroy Brown (A Cappella Mix, 2011) (2:17)
5. In The Lap Of The Gods (Revisited) (Live At Wembley Stadium, July, 1986) (2:35)

Reissued in 2011 by iTunes with the following videos:

6. Killer Queen (Top Of The Pops, Version 2)
7. Stone Cold Crazy (Live At The Rainbow, 1974)
8. Now I'm Here (Live At The Forum, Montreal, 1981)"

Thanks to Time Signature, UMUR, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Sometimes an artist’s trajectory is forged more by sheer luck rather than clever navigation and such is the case for one of rock history’s most celebrated and popular bands, namely QUEEN who having arrived rather late in the game in both the hard rock and prog scenes still managed to find themselves at the top of the world by decade’s end. After the power quartet of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon formed in 1970 after the disbanding of May’s previous band Smile, the Fab Four of the 70s would continue together uninterrupted until Mercury’s untimely passing in 1991. The debut QUEEN I showcased a unique mix of hard rock and glam imagery all dressed up with slightly progressive touches whereas QUEEN II took those attributes even further and projected an image of going yet further down the prog pike as the fantasy themes became more enriched as did the pomp and awe of musical flamboyancy.

But that’s exactly where fate stepped in. After QUEEN II was released in March 1974, the band embarked on a promotional tour with Mott The Hoople and even had a minor hit with their single “Seven Seas Of Rhye.” As luck would have it, Brian May was stricken with a case of hepatitis in the middle of the tour and the band was forced to cancel their remaining gigs. So as not to waste the time away, the other three members sallied forth minus May and began the process of crafting the next album. Without May’s input, the balance suddenly shifted to Mercury’s more pop infused piano led dynamics that offered more catchy melodies and crazy deviations from the norm of the 70s rock paradigm. While May was down, he wasn’t complete out as the rest of the band instead delved into the vaults and rescued forgotten May penned songs that dated back to the first album.

The result was the second album of 1974, SHEER HEART ATTACK which emerged in November and offered a completely different style than projected on the first two albums, a style that would dictate the classic QUEEN sound and would catapult them into superstar status. SHEER HEART ATTACK was an awkward album that provided the bridge between the overdub rich guitar attacks of the first two albums and the streamlined production heavy and more commercial sounding albums that follow. While tracks like the opening “Brighton Rock” exemplified May’s love of the delay pedal and rich tapestry of guitar overdubs, other tracks like “Killer Queen” and “Lily Of The Valley” were pure unadulterated Mercury crafted pop songs enriched with his unique crafty style that found his piano playing and vocal range shoot through the roof.

As a result of their Led Zeppelin meets Jimi Hendrix style of rock adding more slick elements of the more pop oriented hard rock bands such as The Sweet, QUEEN experienced instant success as “Killer Queen” sailed up the charts as a pop single and the album followed with sales going through the roof. The crown had been placed and QUEEN found its way into the royal rock hall of fame in no time. Despite SHEER HEART ATTACK sounding like a rather disjointed collection of unrelated tracks, QUEEN pulled it all off with gusto and proved that they had what it took to boldly delve into disparate genres of music without a second thought, a feat that hadn’t been attempted in popular rock music since The Beatles dominated the decade prior and a testament to the explorative power and ambition that set QUEEN apart from the plethora of “stuck in the blues” rock bands that cluttered the music scene.

It doesn’t take long to discover as “Brighton Rock” cedes into the following “Killer Queen,” a sultry swinging piano based pop hit about a high class prostitute, that SHEER HEART ATTACK was an album that hops, skips and jumps all over the musical spectrum looking for the next good time and perpetual party to crash. The lyrics had been brought back down to Earth and infused with both more serious and more lighthearted subject matter. Next up was the Roger Taylor penned “Tenement Funster” that tackled youth and rebellion and he even sang lead vocals before the tracks once again cede into a double whammy of Mercury’s melodic charm on “Flick Of The Wrist” and “Lily Of The Valley,” a triumvirate of tracks that created a larger medley.

Despite a more pop appeal, QUEEN still dished out the machismo with the ball busting guitar riffing frenzy of “Stone Cold Crazy,” a clattering track of distortion and bombast that presaged both speed and thrash metal by nearly a decade however the biggest surprise of the album comes from Mercury’s interest in vaudeville kitsch in the form of the piano driven blast from the past “Bring Back That Leroy Brown,” which showcased a ukulele and banjo section as well as Deacon tackling the double bass. While May was down and out for much of the album’s development, he returned in time to tack on the superb “She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettos) where he wrote and sung the lyrics and provides a wealth of not only the expected overdubs but field samplings from busy New York City gloom and doom. “In The Lap Of The Gods” provided a two part theme revised bringing the QUEEN II era of just a few months prior to mind.

While there is no denying that QUEEN was a formidable talent, there was no guarantee as to how they would direct this talent much less become one of the biggest bands of all time. SHEER HEART ATTACK displayed how both talent, audacity and sheer luck melded together to create a more tangible and unifying style that would attract an infinitely larger listening audience. While not as stylistically slick or as unifying brilliant as QUEEN II and not nearly as accomplished as the followup “A Night At The Opera,” one can easily hear the nascent birth pangs of many of the ideas that would continue to evolve and dish them out in small rations. SHEER HEART ATTACK despite its rather awkward nature is nevertheless utterly infectious with a staggering amalgamation of groovy rhythms and ever changing dynamics with instantly likable melodies and just enough avant-garde pomp and awe to rival the most outrageous bands of the day. A transition album perhaps, but a really good one.
"Sheer Heart Attack" is the 3rd full-length studio album by UK rock act Queen. The album was released through EMI/Parlophone (Europe) and Elektra/Hollywood Records (US) in November 1974, only seven months after the release of "Queen II (1974)".

There´s no questioning the band were on a creative high in those years and producing two releases as brilliant as "Queen II" and "Sheer Heart Attack" in under a year is quite the achivement in my book. Musically "Sheer Heart Attack" pretty much continue down the theatrical rock road of "Queen II" but with an occasionally added more hard rocking edge (not that "Queen II" didn´t have a couple of really hard rocking moments too). "Brighton Rock" and especially the fast-paced proto metal track "Stone Cold Crazy" are examples of Queen when they rock out. The latter mentioned has one of the most infectiously hard edged rock/metal riffs I have ever heard. Pure metallic joy.

Like most of Queen´s releases, "Sheer Heart Attack" is of a quite eclectic nature and in addition to the hard rocking tracks, the album feautures both epic, theatrical, progressive and ballad type elements. Everything is delivered with great skill both instrumentally and vocally. The powerful and organic sound production further enhances the listening experience.

"Sheer Heart Attack" was the album that provided international mainstream popularity to Queen. The first two albums had mostly provided them with UK success but the success of the "Killer Queen" single and a high chart placement for the album itself in both the UK and the US, gave them the last boost. "Sheer Heart Attack" is an excellent release by Queen and I fully understand why it was a success upon release. I think the flow of the album could have been slightly better with a couple of better tracks placements, but it´s really a minor issue and a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is fully deserved.
'Sheer Heart Attack' by Queen is bombastic, epic rock with killer tracks and inventive song writng

The amusement park intro sets the mood as 'Magic fills the air'; the unmistakeable sound of Queen, the vocal range and piano of Freddie Mercury, Brian May's singing guitar, Roger Taylor's percussive rhythm and John Deacon's pulsating bass.

The opening track, 'Brighton Rock', is a blazing rocker that has some very progressive sections, the best being the lead break with frenetic riffing and one of the best solos May has accomplished.

'Killer Queen' is the well known single that every Queen addict knows. You have to love those trademark harmonies on the chorus. 'Tenement Funster' is a sleeper that has grown on me with a very strong melody, infectious groove and searing lead break. The time sigs change very quickly and this is a real prog song in every respect.

It merges seamlessly into the bizarre 'Flick of the Wrist'. This is another excellent track that chugs along nicely and features some electrifying guitar and inspired riffing. 'Lily of the Valley' is thankfully short as I was never a fan of Mercury's ballads, though he sings beautifully on this and it feels like part of an epic. At under 2 minutes it is sufficient as a transition point to the next great track.

'Now I'm Here' has become quite a crowd pleaser on a live stage. It has a myriad of twists and turns in the music. At the end there is a very strong riff that sounds similar to Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction'.

'In the Lap of the Gods' begins with a majestic bombastic mass of harmonies and then a phased Mercury, mocking himself, croons a silly verse until that chorus chimes in: 'leave it in the lap of the gods...' 'Stone Cold Crazy' is a 2:12 intro to what would become heavy Metal. Metallica reinvented the track on their 'Garage Days' album, and why not, it is one of the first thrashing riff with fast paced vocals. Deep Purple were certainly influences but you have to love the riffing here, and a killer lead break showcase May's inimitable talents. You can almost hear Kirk Hammett licking his lips listening to this. 'Dear Friends' is a ballad. I don't like it. It is short but corny. 'Misfire' is another track under 2 minutes, and it is interesting how these short tracks appear on this album as little tasters of what Queen were producing in the 70s. I like the melody and rhythm on this and do not consider this a misfire at all. Deacon is the master behind this and it is a nice change on pace.

'Bring Back That Leroy Brown' is a short and quirky Jim Croce homage, with banjo and barber shop quartet like vocals, and a smidgen of double bass, and Andrews Sisters lyrical style. Funnier than ELP's 'Are You ready Eddy?'

'She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettoes)' is a very catchy acoustically driven song. The rhythm is strong and the vocals and harmonies are almost psychedelic 60s inspired. The song is not an account of Darth Vader's soldiers in white parading about in high heels, it is actually about a strange affair of a man in drag. I like the ending with the gun shot effects and the sound is strange and features a drone and atonal delivery that does not quite sound right, giving it a mystical edge. 'In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited' is a book ending track to finish the album on a familiar note, the return of the melody heard earlier, although this version is more anthemic; you can virtually see the crowd holding lighters up in the air swaying in time. And so ends an impressive album.

I was delighted to hear this again for this review and it reminded me that this is definitely one of the heaviest and most consistent Queen albums in their repertoire. The album finishes on an explosion signifying that the doors of mainstream rock were blown off their hinges.

Queen's third album sees them begin their transition from the bombastic proto-metal monster of their third two albums to a glammed-up hard rock unit. The two most famous songs from here neatly sum up the album's various contradictions - Killer Queen is a craftily honed slice of glam-pop brilliance, whilst Now I'm Here sees Freddie's vocal wizardry as he intones strange lyrics over alternatingly spacey and heavy musical backing. The second side is rather heavier than the first, recalling the approach of Queen II, and includes the sombre and haunting In the Lap of the Gods - and I defy anyone not to sing along when the reprise kicks in at the end of the album. Not quite as cohesive as Queen II, but the broader sound means that it's far stronger than most transitional albums.

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