Jan 192024

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Forever Changes covers

Love was definitively a band of and for the ’60s. Formed in 1965, their incandescent flame shone bright only until the turn of the decade, their legacy thereafter diminishing, not least as founder Arthur Lee became last man standing. Indeed, such was Lee’s imprint that he was able to trade on the name and past glories for the rest of his career and the rest of his life, even if it was mainly the first three albums – Love, Da Capo and Forever Changes – audiences wished and needed to hear.

The extravagant meshwork of styles and influences Love’s original lineup brought collectively into the mix, defied any one attempt to restrict the resultant style to any one genre. There were elements of almost raw garage rock, cheek by jowl with pastoral and orchestral interludes, with folk influences and whiffs of psychedelia elsewhere.

Lee kept the b(r)and going, on and off, more or less until his death, in 2006. Bryan MacLean, who had parted from the band acrimoniously, died in 1998, a few months after Ken Forssi did the same. Snoopy Pfisterer has long since retreated to idyllic rural isolation, with little lasting involvement in the music industry, but Johnny Echols has continued to hold a candle for the band, re-igniting the name and touring a version of the band since 2009, the show usually reliant on playing the material from those first three albums.

As for Forever Changes, it’s become a staple in the best-of lists pumped out by your Rolling Stones, your Pastes and others of that ilk. Along with a select few, such as Pet Sounds, Blonde On Blonde, Astral Weeks and Revolver, Forever Changes has become of and beyond its time, a beautiful bad trip seeing off many of the newcomers begging for comparison and subsequent attention.
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Apr 012021

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

best queen covers

There is no Queen without Freddie Mercury. On a fundamental level, we all agree that is true. But, if you want to be literal about it, there is Queen without Freddie Mercury. Thirty years after Freddie’s death, the show must go on, and so the band still exists. Adam Lambert now sings Freddie’s parts on tour, just as Paul Rodgers did before him. The Bohemian Rhapsody movie included some new vocal recordings – not by star Rami Malek, but by Canadian singer Marc Martel. And then of course there are the many singers who fronted Queen at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, broadcast to an audience of up to one billion people. (If you haven’t watched George Michael singing “Somebody to Love” or Annie Lennox joining David Bowie for “Under Pressure,” go do that now, then come back.)

Suffice to say, millions if not billions of people have heard Queen songs sung by singers other than Freddie Mercury. But none of those we just mentioned are covers, strictly speaking, since they feature most or all of the band’s three surviving members. Bassist John Deacon has since departed – and his joining Queen fifty years ago this month, solidifying the lineup, marks the anniversary we’re pegging this post to – but guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have kept the Queen name alive. No doubt, when touring becomes a thing again, Queen will be back on the road once again.

The forty actual covers on our list do not feature any members of Queen. As such, they’re free to roam much further afield than Adam Lambert or George Michael, turning the band’s hits and the occasional deep cut into genres from polka to punk, a cappella to acoustic instrumental. Queen dabbled in so many different genres during their time – I mean, “Bohemian Rhapsody” alone! – I think they’d appreciate how malleable their songs can be. Even when they’re not the ones performing their songs, Queen will rock you.

Or, in one case, polka you.

The list begins on Page 2.

Nov 212011

On Friday, we rounded up some of the early Christmas covers, but today they begin in earnest. The A.V. Club returns today with another season of Holiday Undercover, which last year featured covers by the Dresden Dolls, Shearwater, the Walkmen, and a particularly memorable duet between Andrew W.K. and a mailman. Season two kicks off to a fine start with Electric Six covering “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Continue reading »

Sep 082010

Many people only know Electric Six for their enduring dance-punk gem “Danger! High Voltage!” A Jack White cameo never hurts and that glowing-crotch video certainly was memorable. They’ve since released six albums though and have a seventh on the docket: Zodiac, dropping September 28th.

In addition to fantastically-titled originals like “Jam It in the Hole” and “I Am a Song!,” the band reimagined the Spinners’ 1976 soul hit “The Rubberband Man.” The Detroit band fuses their hometown’s two legendary sounds, Motown horns and dirty grunge joining forces on one you won’t be able to get out of your head.

“I’ve always loved the song and I’ve felt for a long time that our band could pull it off,” singer Dick Valentine said in a press release. “The first time I remember being cognizant of it was the mud wrestling scene from [the Bill Murray film] Stripes. I don’t think anyone in our band is a rabid fan of Motown, per se, but I’ve always felt The Spinners kind of stood out in that they had much poppier songs than a lot of other acts in that genre.” Continue reading »


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Mar 312009

Queen was my first musical love and, re-listening to these tunes for this post, I remember why. Few dispute Freddie Mercury’s position as one of the greatest frontmen of all time, but Brian May’s absurd guitar playing and Roger Taylor’s rock-solid drumming helped propel these tunes to another dimension. As a kid I never went beyond the greatest hits, and I never needed to. They’re that good. So here are some of said hits, done different.

Electric Six – Radio Ga Ga
The Detroit six-piece behind the über-catchy Danger! High Voltage! brings their electro-rock to this Metropolis-themed Queen hit. It’s loud, brash and sassy, and doesn’t forget to include the tune’s signature double-clap-along. [Buy]

Hayseed Dixie – Fat Bottomed Girls
This bluegrass tribute act is about as tongue-in-cheek as you can get (Hayseed Dixie = AC/DC. Get it?) and brings some down-home hootenanny fun to this ode to larger ladies everywhere. Queen hit publicity gold with double single for this and “Bicycle Race,” staging a naked bicycle race with plenty of, you guessed it, fat bottom girls. Check it. [Buy]

Xiu Xiu ft. Michael Gira – Under Pressure
This one at once clings to the original arrangement and pulls away from it, coming apart at the seams even while the performers take it very seriously. Having a female vocalist brings a new swagger to it (inspired perhaps by Annie Lenox’s masterful turn at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert) while some dissonant horns threatens to bring the whole thing down. [Buy]

Beach House – Play the Game
Left off the indie-tastic Dark Was the Night compilation for some sort of licensing reasons (did Queen really not approve an AIDS benefit disc??), the wavering synths back some neo-folk singing, fragile even with the drum machine. [Buy]

Tenacious D – Flash
Jack Black and Kyle Gass aren’t exactly known for their covers, but this live one is a real gem. The song is just absurd enough as is to count as comedy, so their masterful acoustic playing is put on the spotlight to propel a wry take. If you wonder why it cuts off so suddenly, it’s because it’s an intro to their own “Wonderboy.” Watch the whole thing here. [Buy]

Ingram Hill – ‘39
It’s an irresistible chord progression, showing guitarist Brian May was no slouch at writing songs either, and does it justice with thumping drums, choir harmonies, and a bit of accordion. This comes off Killer Queen, the only Queen tribute comp worth getting, which includes Joss Stone’s slow-burn “Under Pressure” and the Flaming Lips’ spastic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” [Buy]

Laibach – One Vision
German Industrial giant Laibach lets loose with a stomping translation called “Geburt Einer Nation” (Birth of a Nation) that Wire magazine proclaimed one of the greatest covers ever. It’s definitely different, as if the song’s optimism was on the war path for your head. [Buy]

Upsilon Acrux – Bicycle Race
Some sort of low-fi, toy-piano freakout, this one can’t help make you smile at the A.D.D. absurdity of these guys. Like ten covers in one, they transfer from grunge to lounge without flinching, adding some space-age effects en route. [Buy]

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Killer Queen
Known as “Britain’s national orchestra,” London’s Philharmonic doesn’t just churn out the standard boring “classical” take on rock music. Their tribute discs are arranged and performed by the very finest composers and players England has to offer, and you can hear the difference. Off of their Passing Open Windows Queen tribute, “Killer Queen” blasts out with horns, drums, and…what is that familiar interlude? “Good bye, everybody…” [Buy]

The Busters – We Are the Champions
True story: In high school my band decided at the last minute to close one of our shows with this one. The only problem: none of us were particularly good, and we didn’t have time to learn the chords. So we just got the audience singing loud enough to mask out dissonance. Thankfully, the samba-reggae Busters did their homework. [Buy]