My Favorite Albums – Sheer Heart Attack – Queen

I am forever searching high and low but why does everybody tell me no?
Neptune of the seas (seas) have answer for me, please (please)
The lily of the valley (valley) doesn’t know

Sheer Heart Attack is the third studio album by Queen released in the United States on November 12, 1974, by Electra Records. The actual song “Sheer Heart Attack” does not appear on the album but was released on their sixth studio album, News of the World. The first two albums were a bit more progressive style while this third album is more conventional rock tracks, a step towards what would become Classic Queen.

Brian May (Guitar, Vocals) had become ill during the Queen II tour, with Mott the Hoople, and this album was written while he was recovering in the hospital. The first single from this album was “Killer Queen” which was number 2 in the UK and number 12 on the US Billboard singles chart.

This album was Trident Studio’s first 24-track project. Even though Trident had expanded its recording flexibility by eight tracks, it still wasn’t enough to mix each track individually. “Bring Back That Leroy Brown”, for example, had 70 vocal tracks and had to be mixed down to work with the 24-track mixer

A1Brighton RockWritten-By – May
A2Killer QueenWritten-By – Mercury
A3Tenement FunsterWritten-By – Taylor
A4Flick Of The WristWritten-By – Mercury
A5Lily Of The ValleyWritten-By – Mercury
A6Now I’m HereWritten-By – May
B1In The Lap Of The GodsWritten-By – Mercury
B2Stone Cold CrazyWritten-By – May, Mercury, Deacon, Taylor
B3Dear FriendsWritten-By – May
B4MisfireWritten-By – Deacon
B5Bring Back That Leroy BrownWritten-By – Mercury
B6She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettoes)Written-By – May
B7In The Lap Of The Gods… RevisitedWritten-By – Mercury

Sheer Heart Attack was the first of the group’s albums to contain at least one song written by each member; “Stone Cold Crazy” was the band’s first song for which all four members shared the writing credit.

The album is very varied, we took it to extreme I suppose, but we are very interested in studio techniques and wanted to use what was available. We learnt a lot about technique while we were making the first two albums. Of course there has been some criticism, and the constructive criticism has been very good for us. But to be frank I’m not that keen on the British music press, and they’ve been pretty unfair to us. I feel that up and coming journalists, by the large, put themselves above the artists. They’ve certainly been under a misconception about us. We’ve been called a supermarket hype. But if you see us up on a stage, that’s what we’re all about. We are basically a rock band.

Freddie Mercury

The opening number “Brighton Rock” tells the story of two young lovers named Jenny and Jimmy, who meet in Brighton on a public holiday. Mods traveling to Brighton on bank holidays was a popular narrative at the time, as in The Who’s Quadrophenia. Jenny cannot linger because she is afraid her mother will find out “how I spent my holiday”, but afterward “writes a letter every day”; Jimmy, who was eager on the day, responds that he is afraid of discovery by “my lady”.

The song includes a three-minute unaccompanied guitar solo interlude, created with an Echoplex unit[1] and the solo is considered one of May’s finest guitar works. “Stone Cold Crazy” was one of the earliest tracks that Queen performed live and they could not remember who wrote the song so they agreed to all take partial credit. “Misfire” was John Deacon’s first individual composition for the band and featured him playing most of the guitar parts on the track.

“Bring Back That Leroy Brown” alludes to the then-recent hit “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, who had died in a plane crash the previous year. Written by Mercury, “Bring Back That Leroy Brown” features him playing grand piano and jangle piano, as well as doing multiple vocal overdubs. May plays a short section on ukulele-banjo, and Deacon plays a line on the double bass.


It really shows off Taylor’s versatility. He nails dozens of kicks throughout this fast and tricky song and proves that he could’ve been a big band drummer or ably fit into any theatrical pit band if Queen hadn’t worked out so well for him. Honky-tonk piano, upright bass, ukulele-banjo, and a smokin’ drummer all add up to a rollicking good time.

Drum! Magazine

Queen would tour for this album from October 1974 until May 1975 with supporting bands consisting of Styx, Kansas, Hustler, and Mahogany Rush.


Footnotes
  1. The Echoplex is a tape delay effect, first made in 1959. Designed by Mike Battle, the Echoplex set a standard for the effect in the 1960s—it is still regarded as “the standard by which everything else is measured.” It was used by some of the most notable guitar players of the era; original Echoplexes are highly sought after. A few, on a long list, are Duanne Allman, Chet Atkins, Tommy Bolin, Miles Davis, Ace Frehley, Brian May, Steve Miller, Jimmy Page, Andy Summers, and Joe Walsh.

Sources

Discogs
Sheer Heart Attack

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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