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Queen - Sheer Heart Attack CD (album) cover




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3.97 | 605 ratings

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3 stars Queen. A classic band with so many huge hits. I never wanted to buy an album. I saw a photo once of Edward Van Halen and Brian May together and I thought, "Why does Eddie like May so much?" Queen and Brain May to me were "Radio Ga-Ga", "Killer Queen", "Another One Bites the Dust", "We Are the Champions", etc. The music could be said to have power but there was nothing in the guitar playing that attracted my ears. Even after I learned that Queen were on PA, I still wasn't convinced.

Two things finally bent my curiosity. The first was the Wikipedia article on thrash metal that mentioned Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy" as an early example of speed metal. The second was a mention in the book "Lifting Shadows: The Authorized Biography of Dream Theater" of DT playing three songs from "Sheer Heart Attack" and Brian May being very impressed. I ordered the album!

"Killer Queen" and the rocker "Now I'm Here" are the only tracks I know, but it's the guitar exhibition of the opening track "Brighton Rock" - a song that sounds like a live version recorded in studio - that instantly justifies any adulation of Brian May's guitar skills. It's easy to understand how Eddie Van Halen was inspired, but also I can't help thinking that "Brighton Rock" must have also inspired Rik Emmett of Triumph when they recorded their second album "Rock and Roll Machine" because the guitar solo in the title track could easily have been an effort to pay tribute to May's work.

I find the rest of "Sheer Heart Attack" to be a mixed bag of tracks that clearly exhibit creative musical thinking and others that exhibit pure genius. Wikipedia states that the early Queen albums were a combination of prog and metal influences, and I don't doubt that much though I do agree with the "Sheer Heart Attack" Wiki article that says the band were heading more into conventional rock tracks. Some tracks feature heavy riffs and searing solos while others seem to have been inspired by musicals. Though all the tracks are short, there is no shortage of creativity. One of my favourites is the incredible "Bring Back that Leroy Brown". A quick-paced 1920's stomper, the song features ukulele-banjo, jangle piano and double bass and some great drum work by Roger Taylor, not to mention the fantastic vocal work. Easily a terrific entertaining number!

If there's any one big criticism it's the production. As this is their third album, it might not be a surprise to hear a weak production that doesn't justly bring out the sound of the music that the band obviously worked hard to record. But still I had imagined better sound quality.

Not all songs impress so deeply, but I am impressed enough that I am now eyeballing two more albums: "Queen II" and "A Night at the Opera". I expect these three will make a good trilogy.

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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