Queen Tribute

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Aldous Byron Valensia Clarkson (aka Valensia) presents the music of Queen in an interesting light. The album cover is stunning and gorgeous, shadowed pastels creating eye-catching visuals which complement the smooth renditions of material made famous by Freddie Mercury, Brian May and company. Valensia's vocals do an accurate job of copying Mercury -- so much so fans could easily mistake this as the real thing. It brings to mind Todd Rundgren's delightful Faithful album -- more than a "tribute" in the purist sense of the term. Rundgren simply had fun proving to the world he could duplicate "Strawberry Fields Forever," as well as Jimi Hendrix. And that's what Valensia seems to be doing here, having fun while making a statement that he has the chops to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. OK, so "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a tough mountain to climb, and doing it so well is indeed an achievement, but the true standard for cover versions remains Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels' dismantling of Lou Reed's song, "Rock & Roll," and reconstructing it to the point where everyone from the Runaways to Blue Swede were copping the re-make's riffs, while Lou Reed picked up the album's producer and guitar player for his classic Berlin project. Now that's influencing that which influenced you! Still "Polar Bear" is pretty amazing and this is an album you can play at parties and keep people's attention the way Andy Mackay's In Search of Eddie Riff serves that purpose well. The inclusion of Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes" is interesting (the band performed it at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert) among the 14 selections, a bonus track of "You Take My Breath Away" closing out the festivities. A nice introduction to Valensia for the uninitiated.

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