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Queen - Sheer Heart Attack CD (album) cover




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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Killer Queen

Queen made another giant step towards conquering the world with "Sheer heart attack", mainly due to the inclusion of "Killer queen", their biggest hit single to date. This track has all the campness and glam which Freddie Mercury thrived on, with references to Moet et Chandon champagne, Paris, "if you're that way inclined", etc. The track is a further development of the complex yet commercial style which started with the previous single "Seven seas of rye". At the time of its release, the song was radically different to anything else which had appeared in the singles chart up until that point, and was seen as progressive with a small P (i.e. not explicitly prog).

The album has a similar structure to the previous "Queen 2" album, with individual tracks on the first side, and a side long suite of linked tracks on the second. The compositional credits this time though are dispersed throughout the album.

Side one has two fine examples of commercial prog in "Brighton rock" and "Now I'm here". Brian May adds some fine guitar work to these tracks, making use of production techniques which at the time were highly original and unusual. While effects such as the echoed stereo guitar may sound contrived and even corny now, at the time they were highly innovative, and refreshingly different.

Every track one side one is unique and indispensable. Rodger Taylor has his usual heavier interlude with "Tenement Funster", while Mercury is at his suggestive best with "Flick of the wrist". The highlight though is the wonderful short ballad "Lilly of the valley", where Mercury offers one of his finest ever vocal performances. His timing and delivery on this song alone witness magnificently the often under recognised talent he possessed.

The suite on the second side of the album is book ended by "In the lap of the gods". The opening version is a softer ballad like piece which builds to louder choruses, while the closing section is a crowd pleasing sing-a-long anthem. In between are a generally slightly weaker collection of brief pieces which sit together reasonably well. In the main, there's little to distinguish the tracks, with "misfire" being a poor composition which does indeed misfire, and "Bring back that Leroy Brown", which has a cabaret feel, sounding like little more than a mediocre parody. Even the slightly longer "She makes me" sounds weary and uninspired.

In all though, an superb album which sags noticeably during the middle of the second side, but has a wealth of plus points nonetheless.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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