Today in rock history: on this date in 1974, up and coming glam rock/hard rock band Queen released the album that would serve as its breakthrough, Sheer Heart Attack. Queen’s first two records were received well by a small sect of fans and critical praise was respectable but worldwide success hadn’t yet come. Warmly received in Japan, the band had yet to make significant strides in its homeland of England or in the United States. However, with the release of this album’s lead single, “Killer Queen,” that all changed. The song was a hit all over the world and established the band. The group’s orchestral and operatic stylings were on full display here and it was poised for worldwide success with its unique blend of theatrical hard rock. Featured on the record was “Now I’m Here,” a number that would remain in Queen’s live repertoire for many, many years and always proved to be a concert showstopper as well as “Stone Cold Crazy,” a song that thrash metal leaders Metallica would superbly cover years later. Sheer Heart Attack rose to No. 2 on album charts in the U.K. and No. 12 in the States and paved the way for the meteoric successQueen would enjoy with itsnext record, 1975’s A Night At The Opera which contained their true artistic masterpiece, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Today in rock history: on this date in 1980, British power metal trio Motörhead released its fourth album, the classic “Ace of Spades.” Although already established in England, the record was the band’s very first to be released in the United States. Best known for its title track, a true heavy metal classic, the record was in instant hit in the U.K., peaking at No. 4 on sales charts there. The band was dubbed part of the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” or “NWOBHM,” a term devised by British press to distinguish bands like Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Saxon from themetal forefathers who came before them. The success of the album invoked weekly British music programs to invite the scruffy Motörhead to perform “Ace of Spades” on air and the exposure helped to introduce the legendary band to a wider audience of young metal fans.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1972, ex-Velvet Underground front man and songwriter Lou Reed released his second solo album, the glam rock classic, Transformer. After his self-titled, debut album made little impact earlier in ’72, Reed joined forces with David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson to collaborate on what would become Reed’s bold solo statement and commercial breakthrough. Co-produced by Bowie and Ronson who were busy revolutionizing rock and roll with their own act, The Spiders From Mars, at the time, the record made Reed a bonafide star and featured the career-defining singles “Vicious,” “Satellite of Love” and the glam rock anthem, “Walk on the Wild Side,” which, somehow, slipped by censors despite its subject matter and obvious reference to oral sex and became a radio hit reaching the Top 10 on sales charts all around the world.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1971, the leading hard rock band of the day, Led Zeppelin, released its triumphant fourth studio album. Although never officially titled, the record is often referred to as “Led Zeppelin IV” in keeping with the titling of the band’s first three records (i.e. “I”, “II” and “III”). The untitled record has been referred to in a variety of titles over the years including: Four Symbols, The Fourth Album, Untitled, Runes, The Hermit, and ZoSo but, upon closer inspection of the cover’s outer spine, no true title appears. One of the best-selling rock and roll albums of all time, this essential, classic album has sold nearly 40 million copies worldwide to date and contains the LedZep classics “Black Dog,” “Rock And Roll,” “Going to California” and the renowned rock epic, “Stairway To Heaven."