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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Sheer Heart Attack

Review by Gary Hill

This was the third album from Queen. It was a particularly effective set. In fact, it is one of their most consistent releases. The music here is not always progressive rock, but there are prog-leaning tunes. It's also experimental enough to land under that heading. This still holds up remarkably well all those years later.

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Track by Track Review
Brighton Rock
The sounds of a carnival begin this track, and the album. Guitar rises up after a bit. The band launch out from there into a strange, but very proggy fast paced tune. There is a lot of glam rock built into this, too. The guitar really drives some hard rocking sections on this thing. There really is some unusual exploration built into this thing.
Killer Queen
This was the first song from Queen I ever heard. I remember buying the vinyl single when I was a kid and playing it like crazy. Starting with finger snapping, they launch into a great tune from there. I can hear some hints of the kind of songwriting and power that would eventually become "Bohemian Rhapsody" on this. The tune has plenty of both that glam element and progressive rock. Brian May's guitar work really cuts through so well, too. It's a pretty safe bet you've heard this tune.
Tenement Funster
Picked guitar brings this into being. There is a bit of Mott the Hoople vibe to this. Roger Taylor handles the lead vocals while John Deacon puts in some scorching guitar work as Brian May sat this one out. The tune gets into some killer glam rock zones and really rocks like mad.
Flick of the Wrist
This was the flip-side of the "Killer Queen" single, so it was the second Queen song I ever heard. The opening crescendo brings a prog meets glam vibe. The cut works out with an arrangement that really amplifies that concept. This is so dramatic and powerful. I almost think that it's a stronger tune than the A-side of the single. It's hard rocking and so classy. It makes me think of "Prophet Song," which would be in the band's future. That's my all-time favorite Queen song, so I suppose it makes sense that I like this number a lot. The song structure is complex and surprising, yet it works so well. This is not only outside of the box, but it throws the box out of the window, really. There is a lot of classical music built into it, too.
Lily of the Valley
Coming out of the ending of the last track, this is at its heart a piano and vocal cut. It gets a more powered up arrangement further down the road, though. This has a real classic Queen texture to it in so many ways. The wall of sound at points is so powerful.
Now I'm Here
There is a real killer hard rock element to this. It's one of the most straightforward pieces of the disc. The glam rock vibe is all over this thing, really, but with a bit more of a straight blues rock sound. There even seems to be a bit of a nod to Chuck Berry at the end.
In the Lap of the Gods
This comes in with a dramatic introduction. It works out from there in dramatic fashion. Prog and glam merge really well on this piece. It has some strange bits as it continues. There are also some hints of parts of "Bohemian Rhapsody" here. There are some decidedly theatrical elements built into the number, too.
Stone Cold Crazy
Here is another Queen song that has had some airplay over the years. It's a fierce stomper with an almost punk rock vibe. Yet that glam thing is at its heart. While a lot of it is fully powered up and rather screaming, the verses are just vocals over a rhythmic element. .
Dear Friends
A piano and vocal tune, this just a bit over a minute long.
Deacon wrote this tune and plays most of the guitars on it. It has a fairly trademark Queen sound, but is a bit more of a pop-rock styled number. It works well, but isn't a highlight.
Bring Back That Leroy Brown
Bouncy and jazzy, this is a bit of an oddity. Then again, they often did this kind of piece. The banjo lends something different here. It's not one of my favorite tunes on the disc, but it is fun. I do like some of the guitar fills on it, too. The bass work is worth checking out, too.
She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)
Percussion and strummed guitar makes up a lot of this cut as it starts. May handles the lead vocals on this one while Deacon plays the acoustic guitars. The track dissolves into weirdness at the end.
In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited
I dig this revisit of the piece. It's trademark Queen in so many ways. It has a nice balance between the mellower and more rocking zones. This gets quite powerful and is really a satisfying close to the set. An explosion serves as the actual end of the disc.
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