The Roger Taylor Song That Foreshadowed Punk’s Rise
Some songs have such a story behind them that they make the already curious audience even more invested in the record. Sometimes the tracklist leaves fans wondering why their favorite band chose to include a song three albums later rather than adding it to the album where it could have been the title track.
Although this sounds like a very specific incident, it is highly common for musicians to save some songs for future records. The case was no different for Queen, and Roger Taylor gave insight into what went on behind the scenes regarding the track ‘Sheer Heart Attack,’ which was finally featured in Queen’s sixth studio album ‘News of the World.’
Everything started with Queen entering the studio for their third studio album ‘Sheer Heart Attack.’ The album had a more conventional rock sound which started the band’s journey to finding what the iconic Queen sound eventually became. However, the aforementioned song, which could have been the title track for the album, was uniquely different from the rest and wasn’t ready to be included in the tracklist when the album was released in 1974.
Taylor clarified what happened with the song in an interview with Classic Rock in 2021 and said, “It was nearly finished, but I never quite got it together for the ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ album.” Although he had nearly reached the finish line, it didn’t feel quite right, and the song didn’t make it to the album.
What was more interesting than the title track not making it to Queen’s third studio album was the fact that the song had a punk sound that hadn’t popped off at the time of the guys producing the album. The drummer added, “It was always intended to be aggressively punky, even though we never saw it coming.”
Eventually three albums later, Roger Taylor’s song found a place in Queen’s sixth album ‘News of the World.’ By the time the band was at the studio recording ‘News of the World,’ punk rock had arrived, and the Sex Pistols were leading the movement. At that point, there was no denying that the mainstream was shifting away from progressive rock, and it was time to explore a more straightforward rock sound while encouraging punk to shine.
Queen also made the shift, and Taylor’s ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ happened to be at the right place at the right time. As Roger had started working on the song in 1974 when the shift hadn’t happened, the song was ahead of its time. Some would call it luck; some would say they foresaw where the industry was going; either way, it showcased their musicality and allowed them to be a step ahead of the rest of their peers.