Queen – ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ (1974) – Album Review (The Studio Album Series)

The band set out on tour after ‘Queen II’ and that is when disaster struck. Brian May was diagnosed with Hepatitis and the band had to cancel the rest of the tour. With no more tour, they started to rehearse and prep for the next album. Luckily May got better and joined his lads when they went in to Trident Studio in July of 1974 to start recording the album. However, May got sick again. This time with a stomach ulcer and he missed some of the recording process. Thankfully for us all, he recovered and came back and finished his part of the album. The album was finally finished in October of that year and released a short time later on November 8, 1974. I guess back then you could get an album out a month after you finished it. Nowadays, you need a minimum of 3 months or more before the album will come out.

The band finally saw some major success both in the UK and around the World. In the UK, the album went platinum and sold over 300,000 copies going to #2 on the charts. In the US, the album went Gold and sold over 500,000 copies going all the way to #12. They released two singles off the album (although they could’ve released more in my book) and saw one go to #2 in the UK and the other to #11. Queen was starting to find its groove. With this album, I think that is true. They stepped away from the more progressive rock sounds and the fantasy themes from the first two album and honestly, I am glad they did. This saw them branch out more and turn out a more complete rock album. Of course, they still experimented with their sound and tried new things, they just weren’t as far out in left field as before. As you can see below, no line-up changes as it is still Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon as it should be.

I am sorry to say I get a little verbose with the first three songs. I did a My Sunday Song on each of those and I liked what I wrote so I used a lot of those post. I promise to not ramble on for the songs after that otherwise we will be here for hours reading and me writing. Enough ranting, let us get to the songs…

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Queen – ‘Queen 40 (Volumes 1-3)- Box Set Review

For Christmas of 2020, I received the ‘Queen 40’ Box Set, all three volumes. You would think, John, you have most of these on vinyl, why do you want the CDs? Well, easy…these are all remastered CDs from 2011 and each album includes an extra CD E.P. with anywhere from 5 to 7 Bonus tracks that I don’t have on the vinyl. So, that is why I wanted this set.

Let me tell you this set is great. They broke it up in to 3 separate volumes with each Volume getting 5 Studio albums so for the cost conscious person, you can buy one volume at a time or if money doesn’t matter, get all 3. Now that I have all 3 Volumes, with all 15 Studio albums, I am going to clue you in on something. Each Studio album will get its own, detailed review. My goal is to review all these albums by the end of 2021 and then do an Album Ranking of what I thought was the worst all the way to the one that is first on the list. It is going to be an exciting time at 2 Loud 2 Old Music for 2021!!

Let’s go through each Volume starting, of course, with Volume 1…

VOLUME 1:

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My Sunday Song – “Killer Queen” by Queen

For My Sunday Song #227, we are focusing our attention to the song “Killer Queen” by Queen. The song is off their 1974 album ‘Sheer Heart Attack’. The song was released as a single and went to #2 in their home country of the UK and #12 in the U.S. of A. It is song that is quintessential Queen and this was actually the band’s first hit in the US.

The song was written by Freddie Mercury and in an interview from 1974 in the queenarchives.com, Freddie had this to say about the song…

It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation upon it – to read into it what they like.

I would have to agree with what Freddie says because the lyrics are pretty clear. This high class beauty has been passed around from country to country by all sorts of men…very high-level and powerful men. I love the lyrics as they are all so playful and well-crafted to flow well together and piece together a funny, yet clever little tale.

Musically, the song starts off with some snazzy finger snaps from Mr. Mercury. Then a piano joins in and Freddie’s miracle pipes chime in. The chorus is full of four part harmonies and there are so many different effects on the vocals as well. The music is as playful as the lyrics and Freddie’s performance is as flamboyant and theatrical as it comes which is a trademark Queen style. Brian May’s guitar work is also top-notched and layered with so many different tracks. It is an all around fun, good time song and one of the reasons Queen is so amazing. They pretty much can do anything and make it sound great.

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My Sunday Song – “Brighton Rock” by Queen

For My Sunday Song #226, we are going to discuss the opening track to ‘Sheer Heart Attack’, “Brighton Rock” by Queen. The song was not a single and being the first song on the album, I guess you couldn’t call it a deep cut as it isn’t very deep on the album. But there is something in this song that makes it so incredible and we will get to that piece in a minute.

The song was written by Brian May and the vocals were done by Freddie and Brian. Brian wrote the song during the Queen II sessions, but they didn’t feel like it fit that album so they worked it some more and it actually kicks off this album. The song is about 2 “Mod” kids in love, Jenny and Jimmy, who travel off to Brighton on Holiday. I don’t think the holiday goes great as Jenny is afraid she will get in trouble. There is more, but the story isn’t the best part of the song as it is really secondary. It isn’t even Freddie’s singing that is best part even though his vocals are always stellar.

What is incredible about this song is simply, Brian May. The guitar solo is probably one of the best he has ever done, hands down. It is the centerpiece of the song. There is an entire interlude in the song that is only Brian and that guitar. His use of delay for the harmony that sets the song apart. Brian was tinkering extensively with an Echoplex (a tape delay machine) to get the effects he wanted. The song contains one normal guitar sound and then one with the delayed effect and it must be heard to believe as I don’t know how to describe it in words. It is true audio experience.

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My Sunday Song – “Tenement Funster” by Queen

For My Sunday Song #222, we are focusing on the song “Tenement Funster” off the Queen 1974 album, ‘Sheer Heart Attacks’. The song was written by Roger Taylor and sung by Roger Taylor. It was not a single and was actually part of a 3 song medley on the album with “Flick of the Wrist” and “Lily of the Valley”. Since the songs are only tied together somewhat musically, they are all 3 different songs lyrically and don’t really go together in any kind of story. For that reason, I want to focus only on the first track, “Tenement Funster”. What a song name. I love saying it…”Tenement Funster”, “Tenement Funster”, “Tenement Funster”…you try it now…see lots of fun and hard to say it 3 times fast.

As I said, the song was written by Roger and seems to be about youth and rebellion which is a typical rock & roll theme. Lyrically, it seems a little out there as I know idea what is so special about his “new purple shoes”, but his “rock-and-roll 45s, been enraging the folks on the lower floor” makes total sense as I can imagine if I was living in an apartment complex my music would enrage many a neighbors. I am still not sure what a “Tenement Funster” is except maybe it is as simple as a guy who lives in a tenement (apartment) and loves to have fun and not worry about what everyone else thinks. Good enough for me.

Musically, it is a solid rock track and Roger sounds really great on it. There are elements of the Beatles and yet there is still the Brian May guitar sound, the theatrical feel to it and the Queen backing vocals and if you listen close someone goes really, really high singing “Young and we’re crazy”, it is actually quite funny. You have John Deacon doing the bass and opening the track on the acoustic guitar while Brian still handles the lead. Freddie Mercury doesn’t do any vocals, but he does contribute on the piano. Roger’s drumming is great and it is an all around fantastic Roger sung song and one of my favorites of his.

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