My vinyl heaven: Queen - Sheer Heart Attack
- Credit: Archant
Nick Richards rewinds to 1974 and reassess Queen's third album, Sheer Heart Attack
Just over a year before they Scaramouched and fandangoed their way into the nation's hearts, Queen released Sheer Heart Attack, their third studio album. The band never sounded louder, brasher and hungrier than on this album which saw them on the verge of the big time, teeing up the following year's A Night At The Opera, which contained their crowning glory in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Sheer Heart Attack is 45 years old this autumn and would have found it's way under the Christmas trees of many a music fan at the end of 1974 - and what a present to unwrap for it's a triumph of Queen's hard rock, rousing operatic backing harmonies and Freddie Mercury's flamboyant and versatile delivery.
It's also a step away from the mythical world of fairies and ogres that features in the bands first two albums. Queen and Queen II, and packs a big old punch.
Opening with the strange arrangement of Brighton Rock with its high pitched vocals which transcends into an all out jam session we are then treated to the sublime Killer Queen, for me one of the best Queen tracks, which showcased Freddie Mercury's excellent song writing ability (it won him an Ivor Novello award) and is lit up by a couple of scorching Brian May guitar solos.
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Mercury, then aged 28, put in a superb performance on Top of the Pops in a brown fur coat at the end of the year which helped lift the single to Number 2 in the charts where it was kept off top spot by Ken Boothe's Everything I Own.
No less than Dave Grohl calls track three, Tenement Funster (written and sung by Roger Taylor) as his favourite song of all time. It sounds nothing like Queen, more like Cream. We also have the angry Flick of the Wrist, the B-side to lead single Killer Queen which was a sly dig at then manager Norman Sheffield who the band suggested was not paying them the sum of money to match their growing fame, the beautiful fantasy land of Lily of the Valley and the all out rock party of Now I'm Here.
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Side two dips a little but does contain Stone Cold Crazy, a track Mercury had originally performed with his previous band Wreckage. It showed the band at their fastest and heaviest in a song that pre-dated the New Wave of British Heavy Metal Bands of the late 70s but certainly gave them a template to aim for. It was later covered by Metallica.
Album closer, In The Lap of the Gods was the song the band ended most shows with until they adopted We Are The Champions in its place. For me this is the finest Queen album and it's all wrapped up in their best cover artwork.
Release date: November 8, 1974
Catalogue no: EMC 3061
Reception: Killer Queen made Number Two in the UK singles chart and was their breakthrough hit in the US. The album peaked at Number Two in the UK and went platinum.
Best track: Killer Queen
Worst track: Misfire
Best lyric: "She keeps Moët A Chandon/In her pretty cabinet/"Let them eat cake" she said/Just like Marie Antoinette - Killer Queen
Value: £20 in excellent condition.