Almost Queen: Against All Odds
In a way, even Queen doesn't try to sound like Queen these days. Following the death of the band's legendary front man, Freddie Mercury in 1991, the group has performed infrequently, and then with guest singers who seldom attempt to approximate the soaring voice with which Mercury imprinted songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Are The Champions" and "Radio Ga Ga."
So imagine the audacity of Almost Queen, four middle-aged guys who against all odds do a mighty fine job of capturing the look and sound of the 1970s hit-makers (and if you thought the Beatles or Pink Floyd had the bestselling album of all time in the UK, you'd be mistaken). It helps that in the role of Freddie, Almost Queen has Joseph Russo, a Broadway theater veteran who's got Mercury's prancing, preening showmanship down pat — along with a close cousin to his glass-shattering voice. But the band itself, a collection of top-drawer musicians with extensive music industry résumés, has mastered Queen's complex instrumentals and tight-knit harmonies.
"There have only been about three or four serious Queen tribute bands in the past 15 years," says Randy Gregg, who plays Queen bassist John Deacon. "It's really intricate music, and a scary thing to try to cover. I think people shy away from attempting it. We've been together almost six years, and in the past year we've really, really homed in on it."
While the surviving Queen members have never officially weighed in on Almost Queen's version of their body of work, there has been at least one subtle endorsement from the celebrated band's lead guitarist, Brian May.
"If you go to brianmay.com and type in 'Almost Queen,' our dates come up," says Gregg. "He's all for us."