The first time I heard Queen, I wasn't particularly impressed. It was a Top Of The Pops appearance. I don't remember the song but I can remember how they were visually. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I was probably about 9 or 10 years old at the time.
My dad had introduced me to some rock music. Although a jazz enthusiast, he had a soft spot for Van Der Graaf Generator, he also quite liked The Who and one or two others. I was beginning to wake up to rock music in secondary school. Peter Ashby began to introduce me to the world of progressive rock and heavy rock, some of our other school friends were into the likes of Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin (usually those with older brothers). I asked one of those friends to put an album on one side of a C90 cassette. I forget which album it was. I think it may have been 24 Carat Purple (a Deep Purple compilation). The person in question put "Sheer Heart Attack" by Queen on the other side of the cassette and I have to say it completely had me from the word go.
Everything from the production to the catchiness of some of the songs to the hard rock riffs just completely captivated me and to this day is the Queen album that stands out as the jewel in the crown of their body of work. I know that many would single out "A Night At The Opera" which is also an outstanding album but for me this was the first album that had all of the ingredients of Queen's great strengths and absolutely no filler. It is one of those rare albums where every track leaves me wanting more. "Brighton Rock" remains one of my all time favourite rock tracks and the medley of "Tenement Funster", "Flick Of The Wrist" and "Lily Of The Valley" is simply majestic.
Definitely the most perfectly balanced album in Queens catalogue. The album was released in 1974 and probably I heard it in 1975 for the first time, not long before "Bohemian Rhapsody" was released by which time they already had me and my mind was about to blown again when "A Night At The Opera" would appear.
I know they had some great moments after that and became one of the biggest rock bands on the planet but in doing so, as is often the case they lost some of their charm and magic. I still have a lot of affection for this album.