Thunderbolt & Lightning

Marc Martel

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Reimagining well-loved songs always comes with an appropriate sense of risk, danger, and terrifying moments of self doubt. When it comes to artists like Queen, though, who are veritable giants of recording history, that feeling is magnified. Throughout their career, they apparently set out to avoid all shortcuts; were never happy to merely repeat sections of songs (as is quite customary in all genres of popular music), and everything was through-composed. They habitually pushed the boundaries of available technology beyond what even its inventors envisioned. Queen are the progenitors of many studio tricks and processes which have since become commonplace, and even some that have never been successfully replicated. Über-ambitious multitrack layering, Wagnerian vocal arrangements, guitar tones that mimic the sound of other instruments, and lyrical rhythm parts, are just a few of the ways they cut their unique path through the wilds of a recording industry in its adolescence. They set the bar high, and they got it right the first time.  
 Like technology, music has this uncanny transformative nature; taking on different shapes and telling equally true stories that the original composer never intended. Perhaps like a crab moving from conch shell to conch shell. And we music lovers possess the strange capacity to fool ourselves into a sense of ownership of this immaterial thing whose creation we’ve played no part in. Couples do it all the time. “Hey, that’s our song!” A great song can forge a bond with its listener so strong that one becomes incredulous, and even jealous, to think that anyone else could have the same, never mind stronger, experience with that very same song. 

So, who am I to come along three or four decades later, spending the time, energy, and resources to reinterpret these already flawless songs? Having gradually immersed myself over the last seven years in the music of Queen, I’ve developed a sort of stepchild-esque kinship with it, along with a growing desire to place a more pronounced emphasis on the latter half of the term “tribute artist” - a role I never imagined myself playing earlier in my musical career. And as a songwriter myself, I do know a little bit what it feels like to have a song of mine covered. I’ve heard some pretty good, and some less good renditions of my own tunes, but the fact is, it’s always a huge compliment.

Clearly, I could never dream of improving on what Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon created together. That was never the spirit of this project. Rather, I hope you’ll approach this EP with an inquisitive, openminded attitude that is something like, “What if Queen had recorded these songs in an alternate universe?” And if that’s a little too sci-fi for your blood then, “Hey… why not?” will do just fine.

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