Sheer Heart Attack
is probably the band's first mature album, in which they married the Led Zeppelin-influenced crunch of their eponymous debut, and the sonic gimmickry and thematic ambition of its follow-up, Queen II
. They then hitched the result to their strongest songwriting to date: the single, "Killer Queen," actually won an Ivor Novello award, and pointed the way forward to subsequent glories. Occasionally their desire to cover every conceivable stylistic base becomes wearying (did ragtime pastiche "Bring Back That Leroy Brown" ever seem like a good idea?), but the ambitious structures and elegant arrangements of tracks like "In the Lap of the Gods" and "Lily of the Valley" attest to a formidable and distinctive musical vision. And when they cut loose and actually rocked out ("Now I'm Here", "Brighton Rock"), few of their peers could match their power--something that many critics, alienated by Mercury's fondness for the grand gesture, nowadays mostly choose to forget. --Andrew McGuire
SUPERB 180G REMASTERED VINYL WITH ALL ORIGINAL ARTWORK (INCLUDING INNER SLEEVES). Hollywood Records. 2008.