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Reviews > Queen Music Reviews > 03-XX-1975 - Sheer Heart Attack - Phonograph Record


by John Mendelssohn


HAVING BEEN duly, uh, blown away by the opening tracks on their previous two albums, I prepared to savor the first cut on Queen's Sheer Heart Attack with what might have been described as drooling anticipation, only to discover that ‘Brighton Rock’ is a little more than Brian May attempting to convince us that he, and neither Robin Trower nor anyone else, is Jimi Hendrix incarnate.

Visibly shaken, vastly saddened, and a little angry, I hunted all over both sides of this latest album for something, anything, even remotely as magnificient as ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ or ‘Father to Son’, only to end up empty-earred and bawling.

With a little concentration these geezers could become the best English group in Britain. At the moment, though, they've got a disastrously cock-eyed view of their own strengths. The production effects they pile on with so little restraint and their apparent phobic dread of ever over-dubbing fewer than thirty-five guitar parts on anything combine to smother the actual songs, to which they seem to be paying less and less attention. For instance, were May to spend as much time composing lead vocal lines as he does constructing harmonies for his guitar leads, he might, one suspects, come up with a lot more memorable songs.

I mean I adore the heavily-produced English sound as much as any man on earth, but Queen have just gone overboard.

It ought to be pointed out to them that some of the best-loved groups in rock history have contained members who didn't compose. Drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon certainly don't do so with appreciable proficiency, but, typically, the group nevertheless try to sneak ‘Tenament Funster’ and ‘Misfire’ past us in a cloud of production effects. Naughty boys: Spector himself couldn't make either of these sound like much.

Considering how exquisitely May's, Freddie Mercury's and Taylor's voices blend, why is there so little vocal harmony? Lotsa people can play the guitar as well as Brian May, but there probably aren't ten groups recording who can harmonize like that

What with their excellent vocals, extensive instrumental proficiency in the ‘heavy’ manner, and rich (if presently too-rich) imaginations concerning recording technology, Queen may one day make an album comparable to The Move's incomparable Shazam. When that day comes, mark my words, they'll swear they never made an album called Sheer Heart Attack.