Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Lester's Album Discussion Thread - "Sheer Heart Attack"

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Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 Oct 05, 22:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hello, everyone. If you remember back many many months, I started something up called an album discussion thread. It was immensely popular, but the success went to my head and the whole project collapsed beneath the weight of my ego. I also became addicted to painkillers and heroin. Now that I'm finally clean and my ego has been deflated once again, I bring you Lester's Album Discussion Threads: The Resurrection.

As ever, the rules.

1. If you don't own the album, do not contribute. I want this to be a discussion, and posts by somebody saying only "I like 'Keep Yourself Alive' on Classic Queen, is that on this album?" or something to that nature contributes nothing to the discussion.

2. As most people have been quick to jump down the throats of foreign posters about their English, I can only ask that those not familiar with the language do their best. For those who speak English as their first language, there really is no excuse. Try to formulate your thoughts so that everyone can enjoy them. No speaking in tongues, please.

3. You don't need to like the album - these aren't appreciation threads, these are discussion threads. If you don't like the album, don't be afraid to say so! Everyone should be responsive to constructive criticism, so if the album isn't one of your favorites, explain why in a decent manner instead of just saying, "This album sucks because of X song."

3a. Disagreements are encouraged. Well, okay... not exactly encouraged, but don't be afraid to disagree with someone as long as you disagree in a dignified manner.

BAD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "WHAT?! 'THE KISS' IS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST SONG RELEASED BY QUEEN! YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT, YOU JACKASS! ANYONE WHO LIKES 'THE KISS' LIKES BOILS ON THEIR FACE AND BEING TORTURED BY TOADS BITING THEIR FINGERNAILS! A POX ON YOUR FAMILY AND ANYTHING YOU SHOULD SPAWN, YOU HEATHEN!"
Poster A: "..."

GOOD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "It's not that great, in my opinion, but what do you like about it?"
Poster A: "I like the segue from 'Execution Of Flash' and the orchestration. Freddie's vocalisations are just great."
Poster B: "Hmm. That's exactly what I don't like about it."

*Posters A and B share a beer and become best friends*

4. No numerical ratings, please. Discussion threads do not equal giving something a grade. If this was called "Let's rate the albums", that would be different, but I want people to discuss the albums. There's no point in listing your favorite songs without giving some kind of insight.

5. These will be posted whenever I damn well please. I know I initially said every two weeks, but sometimes inspiration strikes and you gotta post, man. Or sometimes I get so damn busy, I'll just forget about it and all that.

6. For other discussion threads, check out:
Queen (first album): http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=569759
Queen II: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=587802
Brian May's solo albums: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=575007


Ready? Let's get it on.

Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 Oct 05, 22:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

First a review from All Music Guide ( www.allmusic.com ), as written by Greg Prato:

Queen's second album of 1974 (and third overall), Sheer Heart Attack, helped bridge the gap between the mystical heavy metal of their early years and the hard rock/pop perfection of future releases. The main reason why Queen issued another album so soon after Queen II (only eight months apart) was due to guitarist Brian May's hepatitis, which had forced the band off its touring schedule. Instead of waiting, Freddie Mercury and co. used their time wisely and worked diligently on their third record. The result was what many fans consider Queen's first true classic, featuring their U.S. breakthrough single "Killer Queen" (which almost reached the top of the charts in England) and the radio/concert favorite "Now I'm Here." Also included is a song that Metallica would later cover (and win a Grammy Award for), "Stone Cold Crazy," as well as the impressive opening guitar showcase, "Brighton Rock." Besides including the expected ballads ("Dear Friends," "Lily of the Valley") and hard rock ("Flick of the Wrist," "Tenement Funster"), Queen take on musical styles previously unexplored by hard rock bands -- uplifting sounds from the Caribbean ("Misfire") and a ragtime ditty ("Bring Back That Leroy Brown"). Closing with the epic composition "In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited" (the set-closer on the ensuing tour), Sheer Heart Attack captured Queen's first true U.S. success. But their next album would make them a worldwide phenomenon.


Many fans call this their favorite Queen album, but honestly I don't rate it very highly. Admittedly, it reminds me very much of The Beatles' Abbey Road, as there are so many short, quirky little numbers and some of them form a medley ('Tenement Funster', 'Flick Of The Wrist', and 'Lily Of The Valley'), and the album should be taken as a whole instead of as a collection of singles. The strongest songs here are the more realized songs: 'Killer Queen', 'Flick Of The Wrist', 'Now I'm Here' (although it's a pale comparison of what it would become in the live setting), 'Stone Cold Crazy', and 'Lap Of The Gods...Revisited'.

There isn't necessarily a bad song on here. Even the shorter, more eccentric numbers like 'Misfire' (John Deacon's first song for the band), 'Bring Back That Leroy Brown', and 'In The Lap Of The Gods' all have their own merits and add to the overall atmosphere. But coming between the dark, moody Queen II and the near-perfect A Night At The Opera, I equate Sheer Heart Attack to be their own version of The Who's A Quick One, an album so quirky (I keep using that word) and kitsch that, had it not been for the novelty of Pete Townshend's first mini-opera ('A Quick One, While He's Away'), nobody would ever remember it.

The band switch instruments with aplomb, and Roy Thomas Baker is back on production and throws in everything but the kitchen sink. Echoes, slowed down mixes, backwards tape, and even tape effects help add to the overall feeling, and the fact that the instrument credits read more like an inventory list of a music store doesn't detract. Clearly, the band were in an experimental mood, and many of the songs recall some of Ray Davies's forays into English dance hall music that he made popular on many of the late 60s Kinks albums. In fact, Sheer Heart Attack sounds like an album written in 1968 and recorded in 1974; had it not been for the success of 'Killer Queen', it would have been widely unknown.

Special mention must be made to Roger Taylor for writing his first brilliant song, 'Tenement Funster'. He would often write songs that were hit or miss, but, for the first time, he wrote a real scorcher. If Brian and Freddie weren't worried, they damn well should have been.

Another special mention should be made to the entire band for recording largely without a guitarist.

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Posted: 28 Oct 05, 22:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You hit the nail on the head, Lester. I think this album really proved the bond between the band. Most other bands at such an early point would have just gotten a new guitarist and moved on. But it goes to show that Queen cannot be Queen without every member (this is not a jab at Queen+) and they all knew that even then. Sheer Heart Attack may not be the greatest Queen album on the face of the earth, but it is pretty amazing. This album would either make or break Queen. It's funny on how the future of Queen's music depended on this record, isn't it?

Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 29 Oct 05, 08:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Bump, because I'm afraid this may have gotten lost amongst the slew of bohemianrhap84's posts :(

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Posted: 31 Oct 05, 19:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

That's really a shame, because your reviews are so much more informed, articulate and well... interesting.



"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



http://www.queenlive.ca
Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 31 Oct 05, 19:16 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Oh well. I guess everyone would rather rate the albums blindly than discuss them. Why'd I even waste my time?

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Posted: 31 Oct 05, 19:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Lester Burnham wrote:

Oh well. I guess everyone would rather rate the albums blindly than discuss them. Why'd I even waste my time?


I agree with you, but when you take a step back and relize how fucking stupid the average person is, you can see why....

I mean, just think of how stupid that average person is, and it is numbing to realize that half of humanity is stupider than that....


"Not a fan of the ladies, are you Trebek?"



Sean Connery
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Posted: 31 Oct 05, 20:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Lester, I'd take a review over a rating any day. There's more to it than just "5/10" and all that. Keep these discussions going.

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Posted: 31 Oct 05, 21:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Haystacks Calhoun wrote:

I mean, just think of how stupid that average person is, and it is numbing to realize that half of humanity is stupider than that....


Gotta love the George Carlin attitude. I agree with the sentiment fully.

Zander05 wrote:

Lester, I'd take a review over a rating any day. There's more to it than just "5/10" and all that. Keep these discussions going.


Agreed. Keep 'em coming!



"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



http://www.queenlive.ca
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Posted: 31 Oct 05, 21:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

SHA is one of the great albums that I am not tempted to skip a track. Not one below average song. If there is one song that doesn't quite measure up to the rest, it would be She Makes Me (Stormtroopers in Stilettos).

I think what makes this a great album is the fact that there is so much variety, yet the whole thing works as an album.

To sum it up in one word. cohesive

Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 31 Oct 05, 22:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'll keep them coming, because I often find myself amazed at what I myself have to say about an album, but I need other people to contribute, too. These things thrive on discussion and contributions, and while the encouragement is great, I'm not fully rewarded until I get a discussion going.

So, really, this is essentially a nice way of me asking, "Why not throw your own two cents into the album while you're at it?" :P

I'll keep posting these as long as people appreciate them; otherwise, it would just seem like I'm spamming the board, and I don't have the motivation to do that whatsoever.

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Posted: 01 Nov 05, 07:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

SHA is an interesting one.

At a time when the band had just about managed to get a decent foothold on the back of their UK support slots for Mott The Hoople, they HAD to come up with something that was commercially successful - the first two albums had done nothing special for the casual record buyer, althought they argueably contained their most daring music.

Brian contracting his illnesses and Freddie's throat problems conspired to leave the band with prescious little time *together* in the studio to create. Therefore, what I get the feeling of is that they were content to tread water a little and that they had no choice than to let matters take care of themselves. They seemed to me to be happy to sacrifice the studio work in order to get Brian and Freddie well enough to go back out on the road and consolidate their position infront of peoploe rather than to hide behind months of studio work.

(Incidentally, this is EXACTLY the position that The Darkness have found themselves in - their second album has taken a ridiculously long time to create and they are in danger of sinking without trace if the results are none too special. However, I think you will ALL be pleasantly surprised with the fruits of their labours!)

What you ended up with on SHA was something of a reliance on material that had been around for a while - the long solo in Brighton Rock and Stone Cold Crazy are the outstanding tracks for me on there, but were largely familiar already. Tenement Funster is a supreme triumph for Roger and In The Lap Of The Gods evisited is a great rocker.

Other than that, for me, the wole thing is a bit flat.


Benn
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Posted: 18 Dec 05, 21:29 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I enjoy SHA. I do agree that it isnt one of QUEENS best albums, its still very very good, especially since Brian was ill.
The cohesiveness is still there completely and you never lose a thing in the whole album. I really think the flow from song to song is an ingenious concept when done right, as it was on this album.
Tenement Funster is one of Roger's best.
In my opinion i enjoy the fluidness of She makes me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos), its not powerful, but simple and beautiful, however it isnt one of Brian's best ones, its still a great one in my opinion.
There are some punch-packing songs such as Flick of the Wrist, and i enjoy the "vaudevillesqueness" of Leroy Brown.
I really really enjoy LOTG revisited, however the voice distortion on the original is a total left turn from what you were expecting Queen to do.

These forums are great, dont let a few jerks ruin them.


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Posted: 19 Dec 05, 18:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sheer Heart Attack is my favourite album, it has such great variety, i think this album demonstrates everything Queen is and if i was trying to get a friend into Queen this is the album I'd give them. Flick Of The Wrist is great and i love the way it just flows into Lily Of The Valley, in fact the whole album flows. I also love Misfire and i wish it could last for longer, it's my favourite John song and it's a brilliant first song. Although many people don't like 'She Makes Me' i love it, it's one of my favourite Brian songs i love it's feel, it's a really relaxing song. And of course In The Lap Of The Gods..Revisted it an excellant song, it's such an arm swayer.

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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 05:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi guys, new here. Glad to join you.

I think SHA was their most influential album (even more that ANATO) in terms of their own conribution in exploring and expanding the boundaries of rock. While "Queen" sort of lacks coherence in terms of a central theme and "Queen II" is somewhat over-produced (although they are both superb records), this one is the most representative of their sound in their first steps: straight rock songs (Brighton Rock, NIH, Flick), delicate yet demanding pop tunes (KQ, Misfire, Lily), elements of what would be called "heavy metal" (SCC), a fresh new approach to the role of vocal harmonies in determining (rather than just supporting) the character of a song, experimentation with different styles (e.g. Leroy Brown) and attempt to blend them within a r'n'r album without sounding out of place, etc.

We shouldn't forget that in recording SHA the guys had already enjoyed some commercial success, did not feel extreme pressure (yet) in having to produce a "hit" and had gained significant studio experience. The result is an album in which they weren't afraid to experiment, and by doing so they provided (unbeknownst to them, as it usually happens) their own contribution to the evolution of rock 'n' roll as we know it.

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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 12:03 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

For me Sheer Heart Attack has to be Queen's best album. The mixture of hard rocking songs and balladry is perfect while songs such as Bring Back That Leroy brown and Misfire show a development in Queen's ability to tackle all sounds in this case, ragtime and CSN flavored pop. I love how songs segue into one another; I think the transition from the Bowiesque strut of Tenement Funster to mercury's metallic Flick Of the Wrist is superb. Brighton Rock is a great showcase for brian may's talents whilst Now I'm here and Stone Cold Crazy prove that they could rock witout too many of his multi-tracked embellishments, in a more raw fashion.

The balladsa are stunning. lily Of The valley and Dear Friends are simply gorgeous, and demonstrate the orchestrations that would later be heard on Love Of my Life. The only let down is She Makes me but aside from that, it is great.

A harder more edgy album than ANATO, a more down-to earth piece than Queen II and a more sophisticated piece than any of Queen's eighties work, Sheer heart Attack should be remembered for two classic songs if nothing else;Killer Queen with its intricate melodies and seamless transitions and Lap of the Gods revisited, a song even more anthemic than We Are The Champions. A diverse and convincing album- no more to be said.


hj
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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 12:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I really wanted to write here something but couldn't put it into words. It is my favourite album, yet I started writing here about five times- and never finished. Finally- the poster above me said exactly what I wanted to:

"A harder more edgy album than ANATO, a more down-to earth piece than Queen II and a more sophisticated piece than any of Queen's eighties work"

I simply second that. I'll try to write some more later, this time in my own words :)

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Posted: 20 Dec 05, 15:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Asterik thanks. I couldn't have said it better.

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 07:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This is my favourite Queen album and I haven't yet made a comment on it!

Anyways...

This is the album where Queen firmly find their feet. The medley of Tenement Funster, Wrist and Lily work superbly, the segue from Lap Of The Gods to Stone Cold Crazy....

And all this with Brian in hospital for some of the time? Roy Thomas Baker has really come into his own here, his contribution to ANATO is widely acclaimed and quite rightly but his work here is just as exceptional. Lester likened this to Abbey Road in terms of the flow and medleys apparent, but it also follows on from Queen 2 in that sense...except SHA is more down-to-earth than it's predecessor.

Unfortunately there is one disappointment on this album...I have never liked She Makes Me and never will. But that doesn't spoil the brilliance of Sheer Heart Attack.

To finish, just a special mention for John Deacon. His only track on the album is Misfire, and what a good song! Like with Roger's Tenement Funster, it shows what is to follow in terms of songwriting....

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 14:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Although not one of my absolute favourite Queen albums, I have to say that SHA does feel more 'complete' than QII, or even ANATO, come to that. The track order is as perfect as it could have been, and the merging of one track into another, continuing the idea from QII, is inspired. SHA was the second Queen album I bought (following ANATO), and I have to admit, at the time, I preferred it to it's successor. It's just that over the passage of time, ANATO has stood firm, whereas SHA has somewhat dated. I may change my mind again, if it ever appears on DVD-A.

As has been said, the only bad track on SHA is the monotonous She Makes Me, which is the real weak link on side 2. I think the production is slightly heavier than on QII and ANATO, which SHA benefits from, however, listening to it today, it somehow doesn't sound as crisp as either of it's 'neighbours', and again, it's Roger's drum sound which is the main problem, although it's no where near as bad as on Jazz.

It was interesting at the time, that each album seemed to relate to the last in some way. Seven Seas (QI / QII), the 'seaside' end of QII and the intro to Brighton Rock, then the re-appearance of the echoplex on The Prophet's Song seemed like Freddie's answer to Brian's BR solo.

Overall, SHA contains many great tracks, perhaps only let down by She Makes Me and Misfire, and it was probably an improvement on QII, which, if we're being honest, does contain three or four duffers, along with the masterpieces.

Although SHA may not be one of the Crown Jewels, it's certainly a very accomplished effort, especially given the circumstances the band were having to deal with during it's recording, and it was certainly a worthy successor to QII. Little did we know what was to come!



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