Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sheer Heart Attack

I watch little TV these days but, the other night, due to a cricked neck and an inability to lie down, was forced to stay up beyond my bedtime, idly thumbing the remote. I inadvertently channel-surfed onto Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown. What a fab programme. Even better, guest Kate Mossman's choice of Queen's Sheer Heart Attack as her favourite platter. Queen fans have had to spend much of their adult life in the closet. This was a liberation.

Sheer Heart Attack was the first album I ever bought and remains, I think, the best of the band's classic Seventies period. Their second(!) album of 1974, their third in total, it marked the transition from dungeons'n'dragons fantasy to baroque pop-rockery, most famously — but not exclusively — in the shape of Killer Queen, their first global single smash

There's a major case of attitude to Sheer Heart Attack. Quite acerbic. Brian May was coming back from a serious illness which had kiboshed the band's inaugural American tour. His playing here (Brighton Rock, Flick Of The Wrist) has never been more raw, and which is why, for me, SHA has the edge — no matter what the polls say — over the over-produced and slightly saccharine A Night At The Opera. Indeed, I rank the latter below the rougher-hewn A Day At The Races (saw them at the Southampton Gaumont, May 1977) and News Of The World (Stafford Bingley Hall, May 1978).

And then came the Jazz album. The start of a long and painful betrayal...

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