Sheer Heart Attack

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This article is about the album by Queen. For the song of the same name also by Queen, see Sheer Heart Attack (song).
Sheer Heart Attack
Queen Sheer Heart Attack.png
Studio album by Queen
Released 8 November 1974
Recorded July–September 1974
Studio AIR, Rockfield, Trident and Wessex Sound studios
Genre
Length 39:09
Label EMI / Parlophone (Europe)
Elektra (1974) / Hollywood (1991) (US)
Producer Roy Thomas Baker, Queen
Queen chronology
Queen II
(1974)
Sheer Heart Attack
(1974)
A Night at the Opera
(1975)
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 studio album by the British rock band Queen, released on 8 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 throughout the world: 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.[5] The album has been acknowledged for containing "a wealth of outstanding hard rock guitar tracks".[2] Retrospectively, it has been listed by multiple publications as one of the band's best works and has been deemed an essential glam rock album.[4]

Songs[edit]

Side one[edit]

"Brighton Rock"[edit]

"Brighton Rock" tells the story of two young lovers named Jenny and Jimmy meeting in Brighton on a public holiday,[6] Mods travelling to Brighton on bank holidays was a popular narrative at the time, such as The Who's Quadrophenia.[7] 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 includes an unaccompanied guitar solo interlude,[6] which used delay 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, May 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, either as part of this song, in a medley with another, or as a standalone piece. May also performed some of the solo at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[8]

"Killer Queen"[edit]

Main article: Killer Queen

"Killer Queen" was written by Mercury and was the band's first international hit.[9][10] It is one of the few songs by him for which he wrote the lyrics first, which are about an upper-class prostitute. 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 on Top of the Pops after charting as a single.

"Tenement Funster, Flick of the Wrist and Lily of the Valley medley"[edit]

Taylor wrote "Tenement Funster" about youth and rebellion, and sang lead vocals. The song segues into "Flick of the Wrist" (which was a double A side along with Killer Queen), and then into "Lily of the Valley", making the three songs a medley.[11] This medley was covered by Dream Theater on the bonus disc of their album Black Clouds & Silver Linings.[11]

"Now I'm Here"[edit]

Main article: Now I'm Here

"Now I'm Here" was written by May while hospitalised, and recalls the group's early tour supporting Mott the Hoople, it was recorded during the last week of the sessions, with him playing piano.[12]

Side two[edit]

"In the Lap of the Gods"[edit]

"In the Lap of the Gods" was written by Mercury and featured multiple vocal overdubs from himself and Taylor. The song features one of the highest notes on the album. It is most notable for the falsetto screams from Taylor. It is completely unrelated to In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited.

"Stone Cold Crazy"[edit]

Main article: Stone Cold Crazy

"Stone Cold Crazy" was one of the earliest tracks that Queen performed live, and had several different arrangements before being recorded for Sheer Heart Attack. No band member was able to remember who had written the lyrics when the album was released, hence they shared writing credit, the first of their songs to do so. The lyrics themselves deal with gangsters, making a reference to Al Capone. The track has a fast tempos and heavy distortion, in a similar style speed metal.[13] Music magazine Q described "Stone Cold Crazy" as "thrash metal before the term was invented".[14] The song was played live at almost every Queen concert between 1974-78.[15][16][17][18]

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. 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 written by May and sung by Mercury. Def Leppard covered this song (sung by bassist Rick Savage) for a Wal Mart bonus EP for their cover album, Yeah!.[citation needed]

"Bring Back That Leroy Brown"[edit]

"Bring Back That Leroy Brown" was written by Mercury and features him playing grand piano and jangle piano, as well as multiple vocal overdubs. May played a short section on ukulele-banjo and Deacon played a line on the double bass. DRUM! Magazine commends Taylor's drum work, calling it a good example of his versatility. "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."[19] The song's title 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. The song was played live in an arrangement that shortened the song and was, except for the very end and one other line, purely instrumental. May's ukulele-banjo was brought onstage especially for this song. An A Capella version was released as part of the 2011 Remaster of the album.

"Misfire"[edit]

"Misfire" was Deacon's first individual composition for the band, and featured him playing most guitars.

"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.

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

"In the Lap of the Gods ... Revisited" was Mercury's first attempt to write a song that the audience would sing along to, similar to the more successful "We Are the Champions". It was one of the set closers from 1974 to 1977. In the 1986 Magic tour it was performed again in a medley which would segue into "Seven Seas of Rhye", and was performed most recently on their tours with vocalist Adam Lambert.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[5]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[20]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[21]
Pitchfork Media 9/10[22]
PopMatters 8/10[23]
Q 4/5 stars[24]
Record Collector 4/5 stars[24]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[25]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[26]
Uncut 4/5 stars[24]

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".[27] 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".[28] Circus referred to the album as "perhaps the heaviest, rockingest assault on these shores we've enjoyed in some time".[29] Rolling Stone wrote, "If it's hard to love, it's hard not to admire: This band is skilled, after all, and it dares".[25] 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".[30] As 1974 drew to a close, the album was ranked by Disc as the third best of the year[31] and placed a joint No. 24 of the 60 albums to appear in NME's end-of-year list.[32]

AllMusic later said "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".[5] Q called the record "indispensable" and "one of the great pop/rock admixtures of the '70s".[24] Pitchfork wrote, "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".[33] Rock historian Paul Fowles wrote in A Concise History of Rock Music that Sheer Heart Attack "saw the band become increasingly focused on the emerging cult figure of Mercury" and his "unique brand of rock theater", especially on the single "Killer Queen".[34]

Accolades[edit]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[35] 2005 *
Classic Rock United Kingdom The 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever[36] 2006 28
The 200 Greatest Albums of the 70's (20 greatest of 1974)[37] 2006 *
Kerrang! United Kingdom Poll: The 100 Best British Rock Albums Ever[38] 2005 8
The 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever[39] 2007 45
Mojo United Kingdom 100 Greatest Guitar Albums[40] 2002 72
70 of the Greatest Albums of the 70's[41] 2006 *
The 100 Records That Changed the World[42] 2007 88
NME United Kingdom Poll: Greatest 100 Albums of All Time[43] 2006 63
Radio Caroline United Kingdom Poll: Top 100 Albums[44] 1977 50
Trouser Press United States Best Albums of the 1970s[45] 1980 *
Virgin United Kingdom Poll: All Time Album Top 1000 Albums[46] 2000 492
Rock Hard Germany The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time[47] 2005 308
* denotes an unranked list

Mercury's appraisal[edit]

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. All of Queen's studio catalog were reissued in 2011.

Tour[edit]

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.

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"   Queen 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

Personnel[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Poland (ZPAV)[61]
2008 Agora SA album reissue
Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[62] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[63] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Queen – The First Five Albums". Uncut. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Pete Prown; HP Newquist (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 106. ISBN 978-0793540426. 
  3. ^ Joe Bennett (March 2005). Complete Guitar Player. William S. Konecky Associates, Incorporated. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-56852-513-6. 
  4. ^ a b "10 Essential Glam Rock Albums". Treblezine. 6 June 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c AllMusic review
  6. ^ a b Brighton Rock Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  7. ^ "Brighton Rock". The Mod Generation. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "Olympics closing ceremony - playlist". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 September 2012
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
  11. ^ a b Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Special Edition) Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  12. ^ Now I'm Here Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  13. ^ Jones, Chris (7 June 2007). "Queen: Sheer Heart Attack Review". BBC. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Queen News: February 2011 BrianMay.com. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  15. ^ Queen live on tour: Sheer Heart Attack: Setlist Queen Concerts. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  16. ^ Queen live on tour: A Night At The Opera: Setlist Queen Concerts. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  17. ^ Queen live on tour: Day At The Races (world): Setlist Queen Concerts. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  18. ^ Queen live on tour: News Of The World: Setlist Queen Concerts. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  19. ^ http://www.drummagazine.com/lessons/post/hot-licks-roger-taylor/P3/
  20. ^ Kot, Greg (19 April 1992). "An 18-record, 80 Million-copy Odyssey". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  21. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 2248. ISBN 0857125958. 
  22. ^ a b Leone, Dominique. Queen reviews. Pitchfork. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  23. ^ Ramirez, AJ (8 June 2011). "In the Lap of the Gods: The First Five Queen Albums". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 26 November 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  24. ^ a b c d "Queen – Sheer Heart Attack CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  25. ^ a b Bud Scoppa (8 May 1975). "Queen Sheer Heart Attack Album Review". Rolling Stone. 
  26. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly, eds. (1992). The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 570. ISBN 0679737294. 
  27. ^ Quoted in Jacky Gunn, Jim Jenkins. Queen. As It Began. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1992, p. 84. ISBN 0-283-06052-2
  28. ^ Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 1975 (Queen Archives)
  29. ^ "Queen Interviews - Queen - 03-XX-1975 - Sheer Heart Attack - Circus - Queen Archives: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Interviews, Articles, Reviews". 
  30. ^ "Queen Interviews - Queen - 03-XX-1975 - Sheer Heart Attack - Phonograph Record - Queen Archives: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Interviews, Articles, Reviews". 
  31. ^ Disc, end-of-year list, December 1974
  32. ^ "Rocklist.net...NME End Of Year Lists 1974..". 
  33. ^ "BBC – Music – Review of Queen – Sheer Heart Attack". 
  34. ^ Fowles, Paul (2009). A Concise History of Rock Music. Mel Bay Publications, Inc. p. 244. ISBN 978-0786666430. 
  35. ^ "Rocklist.net...Steve Parker...1001 Albums..". 
  36. ^ "Rocklist.net...Steve Parker...More Classic Rock Lists..". 
  37. ^ Classic Rock/Metal Hammer, "The 200 Greatest Albums of the 70s", March 2006
  38. ^ The 100 Best British Rock Albums Ever!. Kerrang!. 19 Feb 2005. Archived at rocklistmusic.co.uk
  39. ^ "The 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever", Kerrang, 8 November 2006
  40. ^ "100 Greatest Guitar Albums". Mojo, 2002. Archived at muzieklijstjes.nl
  41. ^ Mojo, MOJO Classic: The Who & The Story Of 70's Rock, July 2006
  42. ^ Mojo, "The 100 Records That Changed the World", June 2007
  43. ^ "Oasis album voted greatest of all time". The Times. 1 June 2006
  44. ^ Top 100 Albums. Radio Caroline. 1977. Archived at timepieces.nl
  45. ^ "Best Albums of the 1970s", Trouser Press, January 1980 (archived at stat.ualberta.ca)
  46. ^ All-Time Album Top 1000 Albums. Virgin. 2000. Archived at rocklistmusic.co.uk
  47. ^ [...], 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. 
  48. ^ "Queen Interviews - Freddie Mercury - 11-09-1974 - Melody Maker - Queen Archives: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Interviews, Articles, Reviews". 
  49. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  50. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 April 2012
  51. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Queen – Sheer Heart Attack" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  52. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste : Queen" (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 1 April 2012.  Note: user must select 'QUEEN' from drop-down
  53. ^ "a-クイーン" [Yamachan Land (Japanese Chart Archives) – Albums Chart Daijiten – Queen]. Original Confidence (in Japanese). 30 December 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  54. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Queen – Sheer Heart Attack" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  55. ^ "Chart Stats – Queen – Sheer Heart Attack" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  56. ^ "allmusic ((( Sheer Heart Attack > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  57. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1975". RPM. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  58. ^ 1975年アルバム年間ヒットチャート [Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1975] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  59. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  60. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1975". billboard.biz. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  61. ^ "Polish album certifications – Queen – Sheer Heart Attack" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. 
  62. ^ "British album certifications – Queen – Sheer Heart Attack". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Sheer Heart Attack in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  63. ^ "American album certifications – Queen – Sheer Heart Attack". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]