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Queen - 1978 Jazz



ARTIST: Queen
ALBUM: Jazz
LABEL: EMI (UK), Elektra (USA)
SERIAL: EMA 788, 6E-170
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1986, EMI, CDP 746210 2 * 1994, Parlophone, 0777 7 89495 2 7 * 2011, Hollywood, D001410402 (Double Disc/ Bonus EP)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Freddie Mercury - lead & backing vocals, piano * Brian May - electric & acoustic guitars, lead & backing vocals * Roger Taylor- drums, percussion, lead & backing vocals, bass * John Deacon - bass, electric & acoustic guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 Mustapha * 02 Fat Bottomed Girls * 03 Jealousy * 04 Bicycle Race * 05 If You Can't BeatThem * 06 Let Me Entertain You * 07 Dead On Time * 08 In Only Seven Days * 09 Dreamers Ball * 10 Fun It * 11 Leaving Home Ain't Easy * 12 Don't Stop Me Now * 13 More Of That Jazz * 14 Fat Bottomed Girls (1991 remix) * 15 Bicycle Race (1991 remix)

WEBLINKS: www.queenonline.com


Background
With Roy Thomas Baker back with the band for the first time since the monumental 'A Night At The Opera' this was a platter that initially didn't go over well. Reviews were mixed, a few were downright ugly and while I was totally immersed in Queen in 1978, even I found the album rough going on initial plays although the fold-out poster of the now legendary naked bicycle race/photo shoot at Wimbledon eased my young musical confusion ever so slightly. A week after the records release I saw my first Queen show at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum and all was right with the world. Time and a better understanding of Queen's mindset during this period and 34 years later 'Jazz' is one of my most frequently played albums from their now heralded catalog.


The Songs
I've often wondered if 'Mustapha' had been released today what the reaction would be although other than 'Allah, Allah, Allah we'll pray for you' weaving in and out of the Arabic and Persian, I don't have a clue what it means. It's certainly unique and very Queen although quicker than you can say Cat Stevens in our post 9/11 media-frenzied and overtly paranoid world, it would no doubt be a controversial hot potato. 'Fat Bottomed Girls' would probably suffer the same fate for its lack of sensitivity towards women of size, but what a kickin' rock 'n roll tune that never seems to lose it's err.. wide-appeal. 'Jealousy' slows the side down with a typical, but always gorgeous Mercury ballad before grouping in a peloton with 'Bicycle Race' and while campy and dated lyrically, it's one of Queen's better singles (conceptually paired with 'Fat Bottomed Girls' on the flip) although didn't do as nearly as well as it should have and is almost never played these days. 'If You Can't Beat Them', the raucous 'Let Me Entertain You' and in particular 'Dead On Time' are the albums heaviest cuts and I use that term loosely while the charming 'In Only Seven Days' and 'Dreamers Ball' are only out done by Brian May's beauty 'Leaving Home Ain't Easy' which is my hands down favourite of the set. 'Don't Stop Me Now' is Mercury at his absolute double entendre best although while I usually enjoy Roger Taylor's contributions, the two here are among his weakest, in particular the finale 'More Of That Jazz' which for some inexplicable reason contains a brief reprise of selected cuts from the album.


In Summary
Baker's production for 'Jazz' is exemplary with special mention for the drum sound and yes, Queen get a co-credit, but let's face it, the man was a hot commodity in 1978 and this was state of the art aural gold. 'Live Killers', one of the greatest live albums of all time followed documenting what was truly a milestone concert for this reviewer. Finally and if you don't own 'Jazz', the 2011 reissue is pristine and the bonus disc including a demo version of 'Dreamers Ball' is a must own.


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Tags: Queen 
 
Comments
#1 | AOR Lee on May 27 2012 17:01:43
I also listen to this more these days than in the 80's when I first heard it. If You Can't Beat Them is a favourite. The review is a good read
#2 | Explorer on November 11 2016 18:34:28
This was the first Queen album that I felt that the quality really dropped and had filler material on it (particularly side 2),we agree on most things Eric, but unfortunately not on this occasion. Time hasn't improved my opinion on `Jazz`, it's all a bit of a dog's dinner really....sorry.
#3 | Explorer on April 08 2017 00:58:21
Brian May has been on TV this morning peddling his latest album and a clip of 'Don't stop me now' was shown, and as it cut back to him his disdain for the song was evident, and with a rather barbed comment and a roll of the eyes, he was reluctant to be drawn on the merits of said song. I've played 'Jazz' again tonight and my opinion hasn't changed, a real drop in quality from the band and the start of a slow descent into mediocrity...Very,very sad.
 
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