Killer Queen, a covers album, is a much more worthwhile buy than Queen's own Return of the Champions (2005) a live album which featured Paul Rodgers. By way of direct comparison, it's also far better than our own locally produced Depeche Mode tribute album Mode of Obscurity(2005).
The reasons, are manifold. But suffice to say that, with a couple of exceptions, the artists got the sentiment of the songs right.
Among the highlights: Gavin DeGraw executes a moving blues version of "We Are The Champions"; Shinedown rock out on "Tie Your Mother Down"; Constantine M and the cast from the tribute show "We Will Rock You" attempt to recreate the original recording of Bohemian Rhapsody with astonishing accuracy; Jason Mraz absolves himself from all other career transgressions with an outstanding take on "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy". There's an eerie, wild punk version of "Bicycle Race" by Be Your Own Pet. All-girl quad Antigone Rising get "Fat Bottomed Girls" mostly right; and Jon Brion delivers a sharp alternative account of "Play the Game".
Yet the biggest surprise on the album is the contribution from Sum 41. Showing remarkable sophistication, the contemporary new-rocksters drive through "Killer Queen" with panache and intelligence. This should be a single for the band.
A second take on "Bohemian Rhapsody" by The Flaming Lips, takes more liberties. While it's beautifully inventive and interesting, it won't work for fans of the original.
On the down side, it's probably time someone told Joss Stone to shove off. Or took her out back and shot her. There are only so many tribute and collaboration albums that any one artist should be allowed to do, and Stone used up her quota ages ago. Her "version" of Under Pressure will probably cause David Bowie to relapse. For pity's sake, forget about Stone being the biggest "name" artist on this album; she's easily also the worst.
- Anton Marshall
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