Writing this blog is a sonic journey for me. All the time I find myself explaining to other music fans that I don't know what's going on these days because, musically, I live in 1974. You might be listening to the radio. I'm listening to albums from 1974. On some days, that means listening to something the world has thankfully forgotten. But on other days I get to hear great albums I hadn't bothered to discover. Sheer Heart Attack, released November 7, 1974, is one of those albums.
Of course I knew "Killer Queen", Freddie Mercury's UK#2/US#12 single that broke the band on both sides of the Atlantic. It's the first Queen song that truly sounds like Queen. That's really the exciting thing about listening to Sheer Heart Attack. You get to hear a great band discover it's one of a kind, elaborately layered sound, especially vocals ("Lap of the Gods"). "Killer Queen" alone has 12 overdubs of electric guitar and two overdubs of bass. Of the hit single, guitarist Brian May says:
The album came out just eight months after Queen II. May came down with a case of hepatitis , ending the band's US tour with Mott the Hoople. Then May was hospitalized with an ulcer as recording began for Sheer Heart Attack. The rest of the band recorded without him, leaving room for guitar solos. When he recovered, May went into the studio for two weeks of intense recordings. The results speak for themselves.
Sheer Heart Attack is a great argument for not buying greatest hits albums. You might have discovered "Killer Queen" , "Now I'm Here" and "Stone Cold Crazy" on one of the compilations, but you would have missed such glorious deep cuts as bassist John Deacon's "Misfire" and drummer Roger Taylor's "Tenement Funster". Two songs that add entire dimensions to this classic album.