Sheer Heart Attack

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This article is about the album by Queen. For the song of the same name by Queen, see News of the World (album).
Sheer Heart Attack
Queen Sheer Heart Attack.png
Studio album by Queen
Released 8 November 1974
Recorded July–September 1974 at AIR, Rockfield, Trident and Wessex Sound studios
Length 39:09
Label EMI / Parlophone (Europe)
Elektra / Hollywood (US)
Producer Roy Thomas Baker, Queen
Queen chronology
Queen II
Sheer Heart Attack
A Night at the Opera
Singles from Sheer Heart Attack
  1. "Killer Queen"/"Flick of the Wrist"
    Released: 11 October 1974
  2. "Now I'm Here""
    Released: 17 January 1975
  3. "Lily of the Valley""
    Released: April 1975 (Japan only)

Sheer Heart Attack is the third album by British rock band Queen, released in November 1974. It was produced by the band and Roy Thomas Baker and distributed by EMI in the United Kingdom, and Elektra in the United States.

The album launched Queen to mainstream popularity both in the UK and internationally: the first single, "Killer Queen" reached No. 2 in the British charts and provided them with their first top 20 hit in the US, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard singles chart. Sheer Heart Attack was also the first Queen album to hit the US top 20, peaking at No. 12 in 1975. Digressing from the progressive themes featured on their first two albums, this album featured more conventional rock tracks and marked a step towards the classic Queen sound.[3] In recent years, it has been listed by multiple publications as one of the band's best works.


"Brighton Rock"[edit]

Main article: Brighton Rock (song)

The song, the first track on the album, tells the story of two young lovers named Jenny and Jimmy meeting in Brighton on a public holiday.[4] Jenny cannot linger because she is afraid her mother will find out "how I spent my holiday", but afterwards "writes a letter every day"; Jimmy, eager on the day, is not so happy with her "nothing can my love erase": now he is the one afraid of discovery by "my lady".

The song is probably best known for its lengthy guitar solo interlude,[4] which was rather similar to the solo of 1968 Smile song "Blag". This featured May's technique of using multiple echoes used to build up guitar harmony and contrapuntal melodic lines. The studio version only contains one "main" guitar and one "echoed" guitar for a short section, but live, he would usually split his guitar signal into "main" and two "echoed", with each going to a separate bank of amplifiers.

The guitar solo on this song has been performed live at most concerts by Queen or May. When live each tour had a way of introducing it to the sets. Sometimes performances featured the vocals or segue from other songs or segue into another song. On some occasions the solo would segue from "The Prophet's Song" and then segue into "Now I'm Here".

May also performed some of the solo at closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[5]

"Killer Queen"[edit]

Main article: Killer Queen

"Killer Queen" was written by Mercury and was the band's first international hit.[6][7] It is one of the few songs by him for which he wrote the lyrics first. The band initially recorded tracks for the song without May, because he was recovering in hospital from a duodenal ulcer, leaving spaces for him to fill when he was able to. Mercury played a jangle piano as well as a grand piano. It was performed and filmed multiple times for the Top of the Pops in 1974.

"Tenement Funster"[edit]

"Tenement Funster" is Taylor's song on the album, and he also performed lead vocals. The backing track consisted of his drums, Mercury's piano, John Deacon's bass and May's Red Special guitar. Taylor's lyrics on the track are about youth and rebellion. In addition to showcasing the out-of-phase tone capabilities of the Red Special, it also includes echo effects with May's guitar, like in "Brighton Rock". The last couple of guitar notes overlap into "Flick of the Wrist". The original working titles for the song were "Teen Dreams" and "Young and Crazy".[8]

"Flick of the Wrist"[edit]

Main article: Flick of the Wrist

"Flick of the Wrist" was the double A-side of "Killer Queen" but it was much less promoted and therefore not as popular outside the Queen fan base. The song includes Mercury singing octave vocals. When May returned to work having recovered from his hepatitis, he had not heard the song before he recorded his guitar and backing vocals. It is a heavy track with quite dark lyrics and an aggressive tone. At about 1:14 – 1:16, the line "Baby you've been had" can be heard. This line is also the opening to the next song on the album, "Lily of the Valley", making the three songs into a medley ("Tenement Funster" into "Flick of the Wrist", and 'Flick of the Wrist" into "Lily of the Valley").[9]

"Lily of the Valley"[edit]

"Lily of the Valley" features Mercury playing the piano and providing all of the vocals. The song has a reference to "Seven Seas of Rhye" in the line "messenger from Seven Seas has flown to tell the King of Rhye he's lost his throne".

The song, together with "Tenement Funster" and "Flick of the Wrist", was covered by Dream Theater on the bonus disc of their album Black Clouds & Silver Linings.[9]

"Now I'm Here"[edit]

Main article: Now I'm Here

"Now I'm Here" is the band's second single from the album. Written by May while at the hospital, recalling touring with Mott the Hoople, it was recorded during the last week of the sessions, with him playing piano. The song relies a lot on delay machines, foreshadowing "The Prophet's Song". The song opens with a lone guitar riff, and is followed by choir-like vocal harmonies and overdubbed guitar parts [10] and ends with the whole band screaming "Go Go Go Little Queenie" in the fade out.

"In the Lap of the Gods"[edit]

"In the Lap of the Gods" is, according to Mercury himself, the direct prelude to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the A Night at the Opera album in general. It is built in three parts: the introduction, which contains fast piano arpeggios, very high-toned falsettos by Taylor plus vocals harmonies, the second part which is a slow love song, featuring slowed-down vocals by Mercury, and the third part, based on vocals harmonies singing "leave it in the lap of the gods", with more falsettos by Taylor. Those high notes were thought to be made using synthesisers, and to prove they were not, Taylor would reproduce them in live performance every night. Throughout the entire song, wind effects can be heard.

"Stone Cold Crazy"[edit]

Main article: Stone Cold Crazy

"Stone Cold Crazy" was allegedly written by Mercury while in Wreckage, one of his pre-Queen bands. Queen played it live as early as 1972, but the song underwent many changes musically and lyrically before a studio version was recorded in 1974. As a result, no band member was able to remember who had written the lyrics when the album was released, hence they shared writing credit. The lyrics themselves deal with gangsters, making a reference to Al Capone. It was the first song credited to all four members of Queen. This track is known for its fast tempos and heavy distortion, thus being a precursor to speed metal.[11] Music magazine Q described "Stone Cold Crazy" as "thrash metal before the term was invented".[12] The song was played live at almost every Queen concert between 1974-78.[13][14][15][16]

Metallica covered the song as their contribution to the 1990 compilation album Rubáiyát: Elektra's 40th Anniversary. This cover version was later used as a B-side of their "Enter Sandman" single and subsequently won a Grammy Award; it also appeared on their covers/b-sides album Garage Inc. The Metallica version of the song is more aggressive than the original; they also slightly altered the lyrics, adding two uses of the word "fuck" and changing the more humorous lines for more violent lyrics, such as "walking down the street/shooting people that I meet/with my fully loaded tommy gun".

James Hetfield once performed it together with Queen & Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath fame (singing Metallica's altered lyrics) at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.[13] Metallica also played the song as an encore during their 1991–93 Black Album tour; it appears on the live CD Live Shit: Binge & Purge and the 2009 live DVD Français Pour une Nuit. Hellyeah played Metallica's version of "Stone Cold Crazy" on the 2007 Family Values Tour, sometimes referring to it under the title "Stone Cold Wasted".

"Dear Friends"[edit]

"Dear Friends" was May's song featuring him on the piano and backing vocals, and Mercury providing lead vocals.

Def Leppard covered this song (sung by bassist Rick Savage) for a Wal Mart bonus EP for their cover album, Yeah!.


"Misfire" was Deacon's first composition. He played most of the guitars including the solo, and Mercury sang all the vocals.

"Bring Back That Leroy Brown"[edit]

"Bring Back That Leroy Brown" was written by Mercury and features him on most of the vocals (with production techniques using tape speed to make it sound really low in the harmonies) as well as grand piano and jangle piano. May played ukulele-banjo and Deacon did a line with a double bass. The song's title alludes to the then-recent hit "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce (little known in Queen's native UK) who had died in a plane crash the previous year. The song was played live in a different arrangement that shortened the song and was, except for the very end and one other line, purely instrumental. May's ukelele-banjo would be brought onstage especially for this song.

"She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)"[edit]

"She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)" was written and sung by May with May and Deacon playing acoustic guitars. Its finale features what May referred to as "New York nightmare sounds," which include NYC police vehicle sirens and deep-breathing sounds which accompany the closing bars. Stormtroopers in Stilettos: Queen, The Early Years was the name of the 2011 exhibition on Queen, which was held at Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, East London.

"In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited"[edit]

With its powerful chorus and stadium rock-esque sound, "In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited" could perhaps be considered the forerunner to "We Are the Champions". It bears few similarities to "In The Lap Of The Gods".

It was one of the set closers from 1974 to 1977. In 1986 it was performed was again in a medley which would segue into "Seven Seas of Rhye", and recently has been performed once again on their tours with vocalist Adam Lambert.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
BBC (favourable)[17]
Circus (favourable)[18]
John Mendelsohn (unfavourable)[19]
Mojo 4/5 stars[20]
NME (favourable)[21]
Pitchfork (9.0/10)[22]
Q 5/5 stars[23]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[24]
Winnipeg Free Press (favourable)[25]

NME wrote, "A feast. No duffers, and four songs that will just run and run: Killer Queen, Flick of the Wrist, Now I'm Here, and In the Lap of the Gods...revisited“.[21] The Winnipeg Free Press commended "Brian May's multi-tracked guitar, Freddie Mercury's stunning vocalising and Roy Thomas Baker's dynamic production work", calling the album "a no-holds barred, full-scale attack on the senses".[25] Circus referred to the album as "perhaps the heaviest, rockingest assault on these shores we've enjoyed in some time".[18] Rolling Stone offered a mostly positive review, giving the album a 3/5 star rating, and concluding, "If it's hard to love, it's hard not to admire: This band is skilled, after all, and it dares".[24] John Mendelsohn was unimpressed, writing, "I hunted all over both sides of this latest album for something, anything, even remotely as magnificent as "Keep Yourself Alive" or "Father to Son", only to end up empty-eared and bawling".[19] As 1974 drew to a close, the album was ranked by Disc as the third best of the year[26] and placed a joint No. 24 of the 60 albums to appear in NME's end-of-year list.[27]

Allmusic awarded the album 4.5/5 stars, writing, "the theatricality is now wielded on everyday affairs, which ironically makes them sound larger than life. And this sense of scale, combined with the heavy guitars, pop hooks, and theatrical style, marks the true unveiling of Queen, making Sheer Heart Attack as the moment where they truly came into their own".[3] Mojo awarded the album 4/5 stars, noting that it was "often overlooked in favour of A Night at the Opera," and calling it "equally stellar".[20] Q awarded the album 5/5 stars, calling it "indispensable" and "one of the great pop/rock admixtures of the '70s".[23] Pitchfork awarded the album a 9/10, writing, "Sheer Heart Attack not only improves on every aspect of their sound suggested by the first two records, but delivers some of the finest music of their career... This is the band at the height of its powers."[22] The BBC wrote, "they stretched contemporary production methods to their very limit with multi-layered vocals and guitars and Freddie's vaudevillian streak finally emerged... this was the album that finally saw Queen find their true voice".[17]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die United Kingdom 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[28] 2005 *
Classic Rock United Kingdom The 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever[29] 2006 28
The 200 Greatest Albums of the 70's (20 greatest of 1974)[30] 2006 *
Kerrang! United Kingdom Poll: The 100 Best British Rock Albums Ever[31] 2005 8
The 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever[32] 2007 45
Mojo United Kingdom 100 Greatest Guitar Albums[33] 2002 72
70 of the Greatest Albums of the 70's[34] 2006 *
The 100 Records That Changed the World[35] 2007 88
NME United Kingdom Poll: Greatest 100 Albums of All Time[36] 2006 63
Radio Caroline United Kingdom Poll: Top 100 Albums[37] 1977 50
Trouser Press United States Best Albums of the 1970s[38] 1980 *
Virgin United Kingdom Poll: All Time Album Top 1000 Albums[39] 2000 492
Rock Hard Germany The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time[40] 2005 308

(*) designates unordered lists.

Queen comments on the record[edit]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Brighton Rock"   Brian May 5:08
2. "Killer Queen"   Freddie Mercury 3:01
3. "Tenement Funster"   Roger Taylor 2:48
4. "Flick of the Wrist"   Mercury 3:19
5. "Lily of the Valley"   Mercury 1:43
6. "Now I'm Here"   May 4:10
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "In the Lap of the Gods"   Mercury 3:20
8. "Stone Cold Crazy"   Mercury, May, Taylor, John Deacon 2:12
9. "Dear Friends"   May 1:07
10. "Misfire"   Deacon 1:50
11. "Bring Back That Leroy Brown"   Mercury 2:13
12. "She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)"   May 4:08
13. "In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited"   Mercury 3:42


During Queen's first North American Tour (as a support band for Mott the Hoople), May fell ill with hepatitis (he had been infected with an unclean needle during a vaccination before the Australian tour), but he continued to work from hospital. When he was fit, the work continued in studio, but then he fell ill again, this time with a duodenal ulcer. When May was recovering after an operation, the next tour had been cancelled. He felt guilty, and was a bit nervous that he was going to be replaced. Much to his relief, no one in the group had even considered it. All three members were continuing on recording without May at the time. Production planning had left a lot of spaces in the songs for May's solos. When he felt well enough, May returned and completed the tracks with his guitar solos and backing vocals.


2011 reissue[edit]

On 8 November 2010, record company Universal Music announced a remastered and expanded reissue of the album set for release in May 2011. This as part of a new record deal between Queen and Universal Music, which meant Queen's association with EMI would come to an end after almost 40 years. According to Universal Music, all Queen albums are to be remastered and reissued in 2011.


From 10 October 1974 to 1 May 1975 the album was promoted on tour. The tour consisted of three legs and 77 individual shows, and was the band's first world tour.

The supporting bands consisted of Styx, Kansas, Hustler and Mahogany Rush.


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  3. ^ a b c Allmusic review
  4. ^ a b Brighton Rock Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  5. ^ "Olympics closing ceremony - playlist". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 September 2012
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
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  9. ^ a b Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Special Edition) Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  10. ^ Now I'm Here Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
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  18. ^ a b Circus review (archived at
  19. ^ a b John Mendelsohn review (archived at
  20. ^ a b Mojo, August 1995, p.34: "...often overlooked in favour of A Night at the Opera"... "equally stellar... (4 stars)"
  21. ^ a b Quoted in Jacky Gunn, Jim Jenkins. Queen. As It Began. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1992, p. 84. ISBN 0-283-06052-2
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  23. ^ a b Q Magazine, August 2002, p.150: "Indispensable... Introduced the roaring chrome camp-rock of future Queen... This album was one of the great pop/rock admixtures of the '70s... (5 stars)."
  24. ^ a b Rolling Stone review
  25. ^ a b Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 1975 (Queen Archives)
  26. ^ Disc, end-of-year list, December 1974
  27. ^ NME end of year list, 1974 (rocklistmusic)
  28. ^ "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die"
  29. ^ Classic Rock "The 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever", (rocklistmusic)
  30. ^ Classic Rock/Metal Hammer, "The 200 Greatest Albums of the 70s", March 2006
  31. ^ The 100 Best British Rock Albums Ever!. Kerrang!. 19 Feb 2005. Archived at
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  35. ^ Mojo, "The 100 Records That Changed the World", June 2007
  36. ^ "Oasis album voted greatest of all time". The Times. 1 June 2006
  37. ^ Top 100 Albums. Radio Caroline. 1977. Archived at
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  39. ^ All-Time Album Top 1000 Albums. Virgin. 2000. Archived at
  40. ^ [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 89. ISBN 3-89880-517-4. 
  41. ^ Melody Maker 9 November 1974
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External links[edit]