Friday, June 23, 2017

Queen - Sheer Heart Attack

Although I was never a big fan of the group's later, campy (mustache and short hair) work, I always enjoyed their early, Led Zep-ish, slightly pompous (in a fun way) heavy metal. This, their third album, might be their most rock'n'roll record that they released.

Opening with "Brighton Rock", Mercury gives his royal vocal treatment to the song and then May gets a chance to turn up his guitar and give an extended, unaccompanied, harmonic solo before the band comes back in for some crashing chords and rockin' riffs. "Killer Queen" became the band's first hit single, a uniquely Queen-sounding tune - eclectic, harmony-driven and balanced between old-fashioned sounding piano rhythms and May's melodically distorted guitar. Drummer Taylor wrote and sang "Tenement Funster", which builds into a heavy instrumental segment before segueing into the dramatically menacing "Flick of the Wrist" and then the ballad "Lily of the Valley". "Now I'm Here" is a dynamic rocker with a cool rave-up ending that includes a bit of Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie".

Side two of the vinyl opened with the ballad "In the Lap of the Gods", basically a vocal work out for Mercury and Taylor, and then we got what is probably their fastest, most manic rocker, "Stone Cold Crazy", with spitfire lyrics and layers of guitars - heavy enough that Mettalica covered it! Another short ballad, "Dear Friends" and then bassist Deacon's mid-tempo rocker "Misfire" (where he plays most of the guitars) and the goofiest song of the record, "Bring Back that Leroy Brown" - a Queen-ly mix of Dixieland and honky-tonk with their own wackiness. May's "She Makes Me" is, I believe, one of their prettiest and most emotional songs (we used this as part of our wedding soundtrack) and then the record closed with "In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited" (which had nothing to do with "In the Lap of the Gods", a big, dramatic singalong number of Mercury's, designed for audience participation. For the CD there is one bonus track - a remix of "Stone Cold Crazy".

This is a solid, rockin' record with plenty of heavy guitars, ingenious solos and, of course, massive harmonies. It is a classic!