This 2xCD tribute to Freddie and the boys succeeds where others have failed mainly thanks to the courage of the folks at Main Man, who elected to devote two full disks to the Hall of Fame quartet. Oh, all the hits are treated with the necessary reverence, but the 2-disk format gives the contributors the opportunity to delve deeper into the discography for little-known gems, like Christian Beach’s dirgy “All Dead, All Dead” (love the mandolin flourishes!), label glam metal stalwarts, Frankenstein 3000’s “Tenement Funster,” Blue Fox’s slice of Runaways-inspired adrenaline, “Modern Times Rock ‘N’ Roll” (the track is dedicated to former member and ex-Runaways drummer, the late Sandy West – Runaways fanatics should be able to figure out where the band’s name came from!), Bad Biscut [sic]’s punchy, power pop interpretation of “Need Your Loving Tonight,” Fouryearbeard (aka M. Frank)’s ripping, rapping, we-don’t-need-no-steenking-Beastie-Boys assault of “Fight From The Inside,” Rick Tedesco’s dirgy, acoustic death rattle, “She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettoes),” Melissa and Queens Blvd.’s beguiling dreamaway, “Is This The World We Created?,” and the raise ye drinks, lads singalong of the aptly-named AB & The Gin House Bandits’ “Drowse.”
The variety of artists (and artistic styles) is another plus – this isn’t a collection of sweaty bar bands trying to clone Freddie’s personality or Brian’s lightning fretwork (although we get that, too!) – but mostly, these guys (and gals) have successfully incorporated Queen’s oeuvre into their own sensibilities, making most of these interpretations fresh and exciting. God knows we’ve heard “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Another One Bites The Dust” about 500 times too many, but Richie Ranno’s All-Stars’ punky stab at “We Will Rock You,” (the only repeat here, you get three flavors, including Dennis Dunaway and Dimma’s fist-pumping rawk and the 10- and 11-year old trio, Happiez delivering a precocious a capella monstrosity that has to be heard to be believed), Deena [Shoshkes] and The Laughing Boys’ fingersnapping, countrified take on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” Derwood Andrews’ down ‘n’ dirty trainwreck of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (mercifully minus the operatic arias), and The Easy Outs’ fast and furious power punk rendition of “Another One Bites The Dust,” all breathe fresh life into these classic rock chestnuts.
Overall, there’s a little bit of everything in the mix: Doug Wahlberg Band’s speedfreak dash through “Stone Cold Crazy,” coed fireworks from The Parkway Charlies (“Dragon Attack”) and Under Pressure (“You’re My Best Friend”), vocal pyrotechnics courtesy the Thursday Night Collective (aka The Angry Pomeranian)’s “Under Pressure” (their alter ego’s “We Are The Champions” is also an inspired vocal exercize), Riotgod’s “Death on Two Legs” (lead screamer, Sunshine does the best Mercury impersonation here), Worro Pilkinson’s bluesy, ZZ Top-meets-Foghat trawl through “Sleeping On The Sidewalk,” Jack Brag’s whiskey-fueld singalong, “Fat Bottomed Girls,” New York’s seminal punkers, Tuff Darts recapturing past glories with a [Tommy] Frenzied (sorry!) burst of hi-nrg power punk on “Somebody To Love,” former Dead Boy Cheetah Crome’s no-holds-barred massacre of “Tie Your Mother Down” that borrows a little gasoline from Lemmy & Motorhead, Frankenstein 3000’s quite Dead Boys-like “Sheer Heart Attack,” the heavy metal thunder of Serpenteens’ “Calling All Girls” that sounds like it wandered in off the label’s Kiss tribute(!), Kimon’s folky “Hammer To Fall,” and the yee-hah, shitkicking campfire drawl-along of The Swales’ “’39” (Green On Red, Danny & Dusty, and Dream Syndicate fans take note). The set ends with an all-guitar-rendition of the ultimate tongue in cheek (although patently obvious) Queen tribute song from Dino Bochicchio that reiterates the label’s (and artists’) sense of humor and fun that obviously went into their loving preparation of this collection for you, whether you adore Queen or not.
Another feather (no pun intended) in the cap of one of the country’s finest tribute labels – previous honorees include AC/DC, ‘80s’ hair bands(!), Bowie, Rush, Stones, Nirvana, Beatles, Kiss, et.al. The high quality of the material on offer bodes well for future tributes and should encourage all to check out earlier volumes. 8/10 -- Jeff Penczak (10 February, 2010)