Open up your mind to one of the best covers of a Queen song. I say this because there are quite a few Queen cover/tribute albums out there. Most are serviceable, more or less sticking to basic re-recordings of the band’s hits. As a fan why bother to listen to paint by numbers cover versions when you can just play the originals.
In 2003 ultra talented music artist Valensia released an album entitled Queen Tribute. Just looking at the track listing one can tell that this album is a bit different. Some of the hits are on display, We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen. But there are also some deep cuts like My Fairy King, Dear Friends and Sheer Heart Attack. There are also a few Queen related songs such as Polar Bear, All The Young Dudes and Man From Manhattan.
The majority of the tracks are far from straight re-recordings. Valensia is an extremely talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Anyone who has heard any of his albums knows how imaginative he is. He utilizes his musical imagination and his great love of Queen to rework most of the songs. One of the best examples is his reworking of the song Liar, featured on Queen’s debut album.
Queen’s self titled debut album is fantastic. It displays a young and talented band at their onset. Two things are apparent about the debut album. First, from a production standpoint it is far from the band’s finest hour. Secondly, it is a time capsule of a band at the beginning stages of finding the Queen sound.
What Valensia managed to do with Liar is one of the more radical arrangements on the Queen Tribute album. Imagine if Queen had waited until the A Night At The Opera album to record Liar. That is the best way to describe Valensia’s reworking of the song. Valensia’s take is filled with many Queenlike touches that are not in the original version.
Valensia begins the song with vocals and piano before the familiar opening guitar riff plays. Thirty seconds into the song all bets are off. Valensia spends the rest of the track mixing familiar elements with new ones. I do not think it is blasphemy to say that Valensia makes the song more Queenlike than the original. Valensia’s version of Liar amps up the vocal harmonies and choruses to levels unattainable to Queen in 1973. The song is filled with the adventurous spirit that was so evident in the early career of Queen.
I have to give extremely high praise to Valensia for what he accomplished with Liar and the entire Queen Tribute album. These songs were chosen, rearranged, recorded and produced with a great deal of love and affection. It is truly amazing that Valensia provided all of the vocals and played all of the instruments, except the drums. With Liar Valensia did not just cover the song, he truly paid tribute to the song and the great band that created it.