Covering Queen

For a long time I’ve felt that there are some bands that should be protected from most attempts of creating covers of their songs. And naturally, because of the title Queen is one of them.

Almost every time I hear a cover version of a Queen song I cringe and either want to run away screaming or destroy whatever radio is playing the cover. And don’t even get me started on the pan-pipe muzak versions…

I remember seeing a message on the Ytsejam mailing list way back in 1995 that the upcoming A Change of Seasons EP from Dream Theater would have a live medley with a Bohemian Rhapsody cover. I trembled ;) Here was one of my favorites about to cover an all time classic. Something no one should cover.

After picking up the CD as soon as doors opened in the local music stores (and skipping all of the lectures that morning ;) I rushed home and popped in the CD and started listening. Once I got to the medley and heard DT play Bohemian Rhapsody I was floored. This was a good cover.

I should probably clarify that up to that time I hadn’t heard a Queen cover that I liked. Even Freddie’s memorial was a let-down vocally. Up to then, the only real exception was Metallica and Stone Cold Crazy (youtube).

The pre-release hype on DT’s new album coming with a bonus-CD of covers with some Queen tracks had me hopeful. Once I found out which tracks they were, I went to Spotify and listened to them (since I recognized none – I really have to finish collecting all Queen CDs).

I must admit, DT exceeded my expectations. Then I happened to hit Brian May’s soapbox (which doesn’t have a feed so I don’t remember to visit it often enough). Apparently I wasn’t the only one impressed:

Bloody Hell …. !

Dream Theatre seem to be amazing … thanks – I had not heard this …

Brian May

And later in June after seeing DT live:

… Yes, the redoubtable Dream Theatre. IT was a revelation. Their scope is way beyond covering Ancient Rock Bands, of course … and actually way beyond Rock, I’d say. They are what would have been called, about 30 years ago – truly ‘progressive, with more than a touch of fusion’. But their musicianship is way beyond even that. The whole band are virtuosos …

Brian May

P.S. And of course, while writing this I bumped into a tribute album to Alice Cooper (Spotify). While all the versions are quite good and are performed by very good artists most leave me wanting a bit more. Just goes to further show that making a good cover is difficult.

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