Those who follow this blog can probably guess that I am a HUGE fan of the band Queen. Over the years Queen has influenced countless bands, directly and indirectly. As a fan it is great when I hear other bands mention that they listen to and are influenced by Queen. It’s even better when I listen to a band and hear in their music that they are influenced by Queen. That being said, here are my five favorite albums influenced by the music of Queen. Please keep in mind that none of these bands/artists are copycats or ripoffs of Queen. They, like so many of us, are extremely passionate Queen fans. These artists have taken that passion and love for Queen’s music and used it as a springboard to create new and exciting music. I would invite Queen fans to listen and explore some fantastic music heavily influenced by one of my favorite bands.
Valensia – The Blue Album (2002)
It was wildly apparent from his first album Gaia (1993) that Queen was a huge influence on the music of Valensia. He even recorded a fantastic Queen tribute album called Queen Tribute (2003). For my money it is the best tribute album that I have ever heard. He does not just re-record Queen songs he rearranged many of them to great effect. His bombastic take on My Fairy King is out of this world. Not only does Valensia cover Queen songs, he also covers three Queen related songs. The three songs include one by Smile (Brian May and Roger Taylor’s pre Queen band), Mott The Hoople’s All The Young Dudes, as if it was covered by Queen, and Eddie Howell’s mesmerizing and very Queen like track Man From Manhattan.
But, as great as the Queen Tribute album is The Blue Album is light years better. It is truly Valensia’s love letter to Queen. What does The Blue Album sound like? Vocally Valensia sounds like the offspring of Freddie Mercury and Kate Bush. Musically Valensia draws from Queen, Kate Bush, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Steve Vai, The Police and 80’s bands akin to Culture Club, Duran Duran, etc. However, the overwhelming influence is 1970’s Queen. There are instances where he sounds so much like Freddie Mercury that it is chilling.
Valensia is a mad music genius, he wrote, produced and played the bulk of the instruments on the album. Queen’s music is a part of his musical DNA and this wonderfully over the top homage to Queen is the result. I think Valensia is absolutely amazing, I am a huge fan. All of his albums are worth seeking out, especially Gaia, K.O.S.M.O.S (1996) and Aglaea (2014). He is first and foremost an extreme Queen fan. Who else would record a cover of Smile’s Polar Bear but a Queen fanatic? It is Valensia’s great love of Queen that makes The Blue Album so amazing.
Jetliner – Space Station ( 2005)
On their second album Space Station the band Jetliner used the sound of Queen from 1973 to 1978 as their template. In Adam Paskowitz the band had a vocalist who sounded quite similar to Freddie Mercury circa 1977 with a bit of edge and rasp to his voice.
The overall sound is focused a bit more on the guitar driven side of Queen. But there is plenty of fantastic piano throughout. This album from start to finish is so chock full of Queen like goodness, it is such a pleasure to listen too. They even recorded a very Queen like cover of David Bowie’s Life On Mars. And they saved the best for last with the title track sounding like one of the best Queen songs that Queen never recorded.
These guys were so good, it’s a shame that they just disappeared. I have not been able to find out much information as too why the band broke up.
Jono – Requiem (2013)
Jono are a fantastic rock band out of Sweden. On their first album Requiem their overall sound is a mix of Queen and Styx. The band’s singer is the perfect amalgam of Freddie Mercury and Styx’s Dennis DeYoung. These guys are great, a modern sounding, upbeat rock band channeling the sounds of the 1970’s and very early 1980’s. Like Queen they have energetic and upbeat rock songs as well as equally impressive ballads. The album is full of fantastic vocals, tasty guitar work and, at times, very Freddie Mercury inspired piano playing. They are currently working on their third album.
Symphonika – Symphonika (2012)
Once again Queen is the main influence. Great pop/rock songs, vocal harmonies and big choruses abound here. The overall sound leans more towards Queen of the mid to late 80’s, i.e. A Kind of Magic and The Miracle. In Robin Myles the band has a very good vocalist who sounds like a mix of Freddie Mercury, original Styx vocalist Dennis DeYoung and Stryper’s Michael Sweet. The band’s guitarist Jason Ball is clearly influenced by Brian May. Ball’s guitar tones are similar to those used by Brian May on Queen’s Innuendo and Brian May’s first solo album Back To The Light.
So far Symphonika have only released one cd. As far as I can tell the band is still together. Their Facebook page is still available, however there have not been any recent updates. I would love to hear more music from this band.
Extreme – III Sides To Every Story – (1992)
I must confess that I was not a fan of Extreme until this release back in 1992. It is clear from the first two Extreme albums that Queen, along with other 1970’s bands, was a huge influence on Extreme. Thier huge single More Than Words is essentially Extreme’s take on Queen’s live version of Love Of My Life.
Unfortunately Extreme were tagged with silly genre labels like funk metal and hair metal when they were so much more than that. Similar to Queen, Extreme brought so many different music styles to their albums. They drew on the sounds of rock, metal, funk, jazz, rap, prog.
In 1992 in the midst of The Freddie Mercury Tribute concert Brian May introduced Extreme. He basically stated that Extreme was the only band who truly understood what it was like to be a musically diverse band like Queen.
As an aside, was Extreme the only band that really understand what The Tribute concert was about? Metallica, Def Leppard, Gun And Roses, more or less got up there and played their own songs. Extreme’s Queen medley was phenomenal!!! In the same way that Queen stole Live Aid, I would say that Extreme stole The Tribute concert.
With Extreme III the Queen influence really came to the forefront and the band released their best album to date. The influence of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and The Beatles was still there, but the sound and spirit of Queen is so dominant. Subsequent Extreme albums have been great as well, but the Queen influence has been a bit muted.
This blog post, more than any other that I have written, has been a true labor of love. I do hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed preparing and writing it. I also hope that you explore the fantastic music of the five mentioned bands/artists. Let them entertain you.