Sheer Heart Attack
Queen’s third studio album, was recorded between July and September 1974, at four different studios in England and Wales (Trident, Wessex, Rockfield and Air). It was produced by Queen and Roy Thomas Baker, with the ever dependable Mike Stone as engineer.
Somewhat of a departure from the first two albums, Sheer Heart Attack had much more of a group feel about it, a coherence not possible to achieve previously because of the erratic way in which its predecessors were recorded. The first album, for example, was famously recorded in ‘downtime’ with the band permitted to use Trident studios only when no one else was using it. This album by contrast was recorded without those distractions in more calm and orthodox conditions, and ultimately gave rise to a strong and greatly diverse piece of work containing several of the band’s best loved classics. This was much more of an accomplishment than might be apparent, given that Brian May was absent from many sessions due to contracting Hepatitis while on tour in America in May and only being available to record his guitar and vocal parts relatively late in the proceedings. It was far from ideal, but none of this is evident on the final work, and more than three decades on the album remains a firm favourite among Queen devotees. It has consistently been voted in the top 5 favourite albums in fan poles.
Sheer Heart Attack is a more ‘pop’ orientated work than its two predecessors, and indeed Killer Queen was the song that provided the band with the international hit, and acclaim, that Seven Seas Of Rhye never quite achieved. Brian would later observe, “For some strange reason we seemed to get a rather different feel on Sheer Heart Attack because of the way we were forced to record it (referring to his illness) and even allowing for all the problems we had, none of us were really displeased with the final result.” Roger Taylor, "It's my favourite. It holds together very well. It's much more concise. It's very varied and dynamic. The different sounds were pleasing".
Freddie Mercury’s Killer Queen – for which he would later be awarded his first Ivor Novello award - is the best known song on the album of course, but the opening track Brighton Rock, from Brian, is archetypical early Queen and would soon become a favourite and firm fixture of the live show of the day.
Now I’m Here, written by Brian in hospital after again being taken ill in August (in the middle of recording), this time with a duodenal ulcer. The song was inspired by the English rock band, and Queen friends, Mott The Hoople, with a rather dejected Brian reflecting on life on the road with Mott the previous year, and upon his uncertain future.
Other lesser known but equally accomplished tracks are Freddie’s piano ballad Lily Of The Valley, containing mention of ‘Messenger from Seven Seas’ and ‘The King Of Rhye’, In The Lap Of The Gods, In The Lap Of The Gods… Revisited and the jovial Bring Back That Leroy Brown (featuring Brian May on ukulele-banjo). John Deacon’s first ever composition for Queen, the charming Misfire, on which he plays almost all guitars, appears on this album too, as does Roger Taylor’s intriguing Tenement Funster with Roger providing the lead vocal. Brian’s often overlooked She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilletoes), complete with authentic New York nightmare sounds (if you’ve ever wondered what all the strange noises are on that track), and the sublime Dear Friends with Brian on piano and a heart rending vocal delivered by Freddie, also highlight the album.
The first ever Queen song credited to all four band members, the frantic Stone Cold Crazy, also features here, and is one of the very first songs the band experimented with in the earliest rehearsals and shows. The song began life way back in Freddie’s pre-Queen band Wreckage, in the late 1960s, albeit in a significantly different form, but was completely overhauled by Queen for their own show. Much later, in 1992, Metallica would cover the track in equally blistering fashion and bring it, and Queen, to the attention of a whole new audience.
One further track, Roger Taylor’s hard paced Sheer Heart Attack, although intended for this album of the same name, was never finished in time and so appeared much later – not on the fourth or even fifth Queen album, but on the sixth, News Of The World in 1977. One other track from this period worthy of mention, is an unused Freddie composition entitled Feelings Feelings. Though intended to feature on the LP, it was ultimately discarded.
The Sheer Heart Attack album was released on November 8th 1974 and reached No 2 in the UK, achieving gold status. It would be the first Queen album to reach the Top 20 in the USA, achieving a very impressive number 12 position (also earning gold status), and attaining high positions in other international charts too.
Like the previous album, Queen II, the front cover image was photographed by Queen’s good friend Mick Rock - the man of whom it was said, ‘captured the 70s’. To achieve the unique look we see on the cover, the band members were smeared in Vaseline and then sprayed with water to achieve a very particular and some might say ‘odd’ look. Nevertheless, it had the desired effect, as the Sheer Heart Attack cover is both arresting and memorable.
The first single from Sheer Heart Attack appeared a few weeks before the album, on October 11th 1974, and was Queen’s first double A-side single. Killer Queen coupled with Flick Of The Wrist, both Freddie compositions, realised an impressive No. 2 in the UK and was the band’s second Top 10 single of the year. In America, the same pairing of tracks but this time with Killer Queen as the A-side and Flick Of The Wrist demoted to B-side, reached a respectable No 12, giving the band their first American hit. Killer Queen was hugely successful around the world, but of course like Seven Seas Of Rhye before it, had no accompanying promotional video because they did not properly exist yet; that particular milestone would follow in 1975 with Bruce Gowers’ remarkable Bohemian Rhapsody visualisation. Various picture sleeves were produced around the world for Killer Queen, with some wonderful examples in Japan, Italy and Spain, though sadly not at home, and most of these have since become greatly sought-after collector’s items.
Although there was no promotional video for Killer Queen, the band did make a Top Of The Pops television appearance in the UK, at the BBC’s Shepherds Bush studio in October which was directed by Robin Nash. Queen recorded one further rendition of Killer Queen for television use, this time for Top Pop in Holland.
The single evoked rave reviews, with this quote from the NME of the period being a typical example: “Queen have come up with a sound that’ll prove they aren’t any one hit band”.
The next single, Now I’m Here (c/w Lily Of The Valley) was released on January 17th 1975, though Elektra in America instead went with a re-release of Keep Yourself Alive coupled with Lily Of The Valley and God Save The Queen, in July of that year. The single peaked at No 11 in the UK, aided by radio play and a few TV appearances in England, including two rarely seen Top Of The Pops performances, the tapes to which no longer exist and, along with so many other BBC treasures of the time, are thought to have been recorded over.
Did You Know?
1. Brian May wrote songs for this album on tour - first time he had done this- and in hospital recovering from an illness
2. Album was recorded without Brian due to same illness- his parts were added later 3. Album featured the bands first true worldwide hit , Killer Queen, their first double a sided single (b/w Flick Of The Wrist)
4. Album entered UK chart at no.2
5. Band achieved their first silver discs with this album
- 1. Brighton Rock
- 2. Killer Queen
- 3. Tenement Funster
- 4. Flick Of The Wrist
- 5. Lily Of The Valley
- 6. Now I'm Here
- 7. In The Lap Of The Gods
- 8. Stone Cold Crazy
- 9. Dear Friends
- 10. Misfire
- 11. Bring Back That Leroy Brown
- 12. She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettos)
- 13. In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited
Killer QueenFirst single from the Album Sheer Heart Attack
Now I'm HereSecond single from the album Sheer Heart Attack
1. Brighton Rock
Happy little day, Jimmy went away Met his little Jenny on a public holiday A happy pair they made, so decorously laid Neath the gay illuminations all along the promenade It's so good to know there's still a little magic in the air I'll weave my spell Jenny will you stay, tarry with me pray Nothing here need come between us tell me love, what do you say Oh no I must away to my mum in disarray If my mother should discover how I spent my holiday It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air I'll say farewell O rock of ages do not crumble, love is breathing still O lady moon shine down - a little people magic if you will Jenny pines away, writes a letter everyday We must ever be together, nothing can my love erase Oh no I'm compromised, I must apologise If my lady should discover how I spent my holidays Oooh oooh oooh oooh, ooh oh oh oh oh ha
2. Killer Queen
She keeps her Moet et Chandon in her pretty cabinet "Let them eat cake" she says, just like Marie Antoinette A built in remedy for Kruschev and Kennedy At anytime an invitation - you can't decline Caviar and cigarettes, well versed in etiquette Extraordinarily nice She's a killer queen, gunpowder, gelatine Dynamite with a lazerbeam, guaranteed to blow your mind - anytime Ooh, recommended at the price, insatiable an appetite - wanna try To avoid complications she never kept the same address In conversation, she spoke just like a baroness Met a man from China, went down to geisha minah (Killer, killer, she's a killer queen) Then again incidentally, if you're that way inclined Perfume came naturally from paris (naturally) For cars she couldn't care less, fastidious and precise She's a killer queen, gunpowder gelatine Dynamite with a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind - anytime Drop of a hat she's as willing as, playful as a pussy cat Then momentarily out of action, temporarily out of gas To absolutely drive you wild, wild - she's all out to get you She's a killer queen, gunpowder gelatine Dynamite with a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind - anytime Ooh, recommended at the price, insatiable an appetite Wanna try - you wanna try
3. Tenement Funster
My new purple shoes - bin' amazing the people next door And my rock'n'roll 45's Bin' enraging the folks on the lower floor I got a way with the girls on my block Try my best be a real individual And when we go down to Smokies and rock They line up like it's some kinda ritual Ooh give me a good guitar And you can say that my hair's a disgrace Or just find me an open car I'll make the speed of light outta this place Mmm I like the good things in life But most of the best things ain't free Some same situation, just cuts like a knife When you're young, and you're poor And you're crazy, crazy, young and you're crazy Young and you're crazy, young and you're crazy But ooh give me a good guitar And you can say that my hair's a disgrace Or just find me an open car I'll make the speed of light outta this place
4. Flick Of The Wrist
Dislocate your spine if you don't sign he says I'll have you seeing double (double) Mesmerise you when he's tongue tied Simply with those eyes, ooh ooh ooh Synchronise your minds and see the beast within him rise Don't look back, don't look back, it's a rip off Flick of the wrist and you're dead baby Blow him a kiss and you're mad, ooh ooh ooh ooh Flick of the wrist, he'll eat your heart out A dig in the ribs and then a kick in the head He's taken an arm and taken a leg All this time honey - baby you've been had Intoxicate your brain with what I'm saying If not you'll lie in knee deep trouble Prostitute yourself he says, castrate your human pride Ooh ooh ooh Sacrifice your leisure days Let me squeeze you till you've dried Don't look back, don't look back, it's a rip off Aah, aah, aah Work my fingers to my bones, I scream with pain I still make no impression Seduce you with his money make machine Cross collateralize (big time money money) Reduce you to a muzak fake machine, then the last goodbye It's a rip off Flick of the wrist and you're dead baby Blow him a kiss and you're mad, ooh ooh ooh ooh Flick of the wrist, he'll eat your heart out A dig in the ribs and then a kick in the head He's taken an arm, and taken a leg All this time honey - baby you've been had
5. Lily Of The Valley
I am forever searching high and low But why does everybody tell me no Neptune of the seas have you an answer for me please The lily of the valley doesn't know I lie in wait with open eyes I carry on through stormy skies I follow every course, my kingdom for a horse But each time I grow old Serpent of the nile, relieve me for a while And cast me from your spell let me go Messenger from seven seas has flown To tell the king of rhye he's lost his throne Wars will never cease Is there time enough for peace But the lily of the valley doesn't grow
6. Now I'm Here
Here I stand (here I stand) Look around around around around around But you won't see me (but you won't see me) Now I'm here (now I'm here), now I'm there (now I'm there) I'm just a - Just a new man Yes you made me live again, wow A baby I was when you took my hand And the light of the night burned bright The people all stared didn't understand But you new my name on sight Ooh whatever came of you and me America's new bride to be Ooh don't worry baby I'm safe and sound Down in the dungeon just peaches'n'me Don't I love her so Yes you made me live again, yeah Yeah, ooh, a thin moon beam in a smoke screen sky Where the beams of your lovelight chase Don't move, don't speak, don't feel no pain With the rain running down my face Your matches still light up the sky And many a tear lives on in my eye Down in the city just hoople'n'me Don't I love him so, ooh, don't I love him so, wooh Whatever comes of you and me I love to leave my memory with you Now I'm here (now I'm here) Think I'll stay around around around around around around Down in the city justa you'n'me (Down in the city justa you'n'me) Don't I love you so Go, go, go, little queenie, wooh
7. In The Lap Of The Gods
Leave it in the lap of the gods I live my life for you Think all my thoughts with you and only you Anything you ask I do, for you I touch your lips with mine, but in the end I leave it to the lords Leave it in the lap of the gods What more can I do Leave it in the lap of the gods, I leave it to you Leave it in the lap of the gods Leave it in the lap of the gods, I want you to, aah Leave it in the lap of the gods Leave it in the lap of the gods, aah Leave it in the lap of the gods Lap of the gods, lap of the gods, aah, lap of the gods Aah, lap of the gods, lap of the gods, lap of the gods Lap of the gods
8. Stone Cold Crazy
Sleeping very soundly on a saturday morning I was dreaming I was Al Capone There's a rumour going round, gotta clear outta town Yes smelling like a dry fish bone Here come the law, gonna break down the door Gonna carry me away once more Never, I never, I never want it any more Gotta get away from this stone cold floor Crazy, stone cold crazy, you know, wooh, ow Rainy afternoon I gotta blow a typhoon And I'm playing on my slide trombone Anymore, anymore, cannot take it anymore Gotta get away from this stone cold floor Crazy, stone cold crazy, you know, ow, hit 'em on Walking down the street, shooting people that I meet With my rubber tommy water gun Here come the deputy, he's gonna come and getta me I gotta get me get up and run They got the sirens loose, I ran right outta juice They're gonna put me in a cell, if I can't go to heaven Will they let me go to hell Crazy, stone cold crazy, you know
9. Dear Friends
So dear friends your love is gone Only tears to dwell upon I dare not say as the wind must blow So a love is lost, a love is won Go to sleep and dream again Soon your hopes will rise and then From all this gloom life can start anew And there'll be no crying soon
Don't you misfire, fill me up With the desire to carry on Don't you know honey that love's a game It's always hit or miss, so take your aim Got to hold on tight, shoot me out of sight Ooh, don't you misfire, fill me up With the desire to carry on, oooh, ah, oooh, ah Don't you misfire, fill me up With the desire to carry on Your gun is loaded and pointing my way There's only one bullet so don't delay Got to time it right, fire me through the night Come on take a shot, fire me higher Don't you miss this time Please don't misfire - misfire
11. Bring Back That Leroy Brown
Bring back, bring back, bring back that Leroy Brown yeah Bring back, bring back, gotta bring that Leroy Brown back Bet your bottom dollar bill you're a playboy yeah yeah Daddy cool with a ninety dollar smile, ooh ooh ooh ooh yeah Took my money out of gratitude, and he git right outta town babe I gotta getty up, steady up, shoot him down Gotta hit that latitude babe Bring back, bring back, bring back that Leroy Brown yeah Bring back, bring back, gotta bring that Leroy Brown back Big bad Leroy Brown he got no common sense, no no He got no brains but he sure gotta lot of style Can't stand no more in this here jail I gotta rid myself of this sentence Gotta get me out the heat, step into the shade Gotta get me there dead or alive babe Wooh wooh, big bad Leroy, wooh wooh Wooh wooh, big bad Leroy Brown well Bring back, bring back, bring back that Leroy Brown Bring back, bring back, gotta bring that Leroy Brown back Big mama Lulu Belle she had a nervous breakdown (She had a nervous breakdown) Leroy's taken her honey chile away But she met him down at the station (wooh wooh) Put a shot gun to his head And unless I be mistaken, this is what she said "Big bad, big boy, big bad Leroy Brown I'm gonna get that cutie pie" Bring back, bring back, bring back that Leroy Brown yeah Big bad caused a mighty fine sensation yeah yeah Gone and got himself elected president (We want leroy for president) Next time, you gotta hit a bitty baddy weather This time, like a shimmy, shammy leather He's a big boy, bad boy, Leroy I don't care where you get him from Dubby du dah, dubby du dah, dubby du dah Bring that big bad Leroy back Want him back
12. She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettos)
I love - she makes me - she is my heart She is my love, she is my love I know I'm jealous of her, she makes me need She is my love, she is my love Who knows who she'll make me, as I lie in her cocoon And the world will surely heal my ills I'm warm and terrified, she makes me so I know the day I leave her, I'll love her still She is my love, she is my love Who knows where my dreams will end I'll follow as they grow But the world will know how long I'll take And if I'm very slow, she makes me so She is my love, she is my love
13. In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited
It's so easy, but I can't do it So risky, but I gotta chance it It's so funny, there's nothing to laugh about My money, that's all you wanna talk about I can see what you want me to be, but I'm no fool It's in the lap of the gods Wo wo la la la wo, I can see what you want me to be But I'm no fool No beginning, there's no ending There's no meaning in my pretending Believe me, life goes on and on and on Forgive me when I ask you where do I belong You say - I - (you can do it) - can't - (you can do it) Set - (you can go and set it free) - you free from me But that's not true It's in the lap of the gods Wo wo la la la wo, I can see what you want me to be But I'm no fool, it's in the lap of the gods Wo wo la la la wo, wo wo la la, wah wah ooh But that's not true, it's in the lap of the gods Wo wo la la la wo, wo wo la la, wah wah ooh But I'm no fool, it's in the lap of the gods Wo wo la la la wo, wo wo la la, wah wah ooh It's in the lap of the gods, Wo wo la la la wo, wo wo la la, wah wah ooh But I'm no fool, it's in the lap of the gods Wo wo la la la wo, wo wo la la, wah wah ooh