Jazz (Queen album)

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Jazz
Studio album by Queen
Released 10 November 1978
Recorded July – October 1978 at Mountain Studios, Montreux and Super Bear Studios, Berre-les-Alpes, France
Genre Rock
Length 44:44
Label EMI, Parlophone (Europe)
Elektra, Hollywood (USA)
Producer Queen, Roy Thomas Baker
Queen chronology
News of the World
(1977)
Jazz
(1978)
The Game
(1980)
Singles from Jazz
  1. "Bicycle Race"/"Fat Bottomed Girls"
    Released: 13 October 1978
  2. "Don't Stop Me Now"
    Released: 5 January 1979
  3. "Mustapha"
    Released: April 1979 (Bolivia, Germany, Spain, Yugoslavia only)
  4. "Jealousy"
    Released: April 1979 (US, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, USSR only)

Jazz is the seventh studio album by British rock band Queen, released on 10 November 1978. Roy Thomas Baker temporarily reunited with the band and became their producer; it was three years since he co-produced their 1975 album A Night at the Opera, but this album also was the last he co-produced for the band. The album's varying musical styles were alternately praised and criticised. It reached #2 in the UK Albums Chart and #6 on the US Billboard 200.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Creem (unfavourable)[2]
Robert Christgau (C+)[3]
Q 4/5 stars[4]
Rolling Stone (unfavourable)[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[6]

Critical reaction upon release was mixed,[citation needed] with scathing reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone and Creem. It was subject to a viciously condemning Rolling Stone review by Dave Marsh, which included the suggestion that "Queen may be the first truly fascist rock band".[7] Paul Rees of Q awarded the record four stars, and wrote, "Their most underrated album, like A Night at the Opera it took in a wild array of musical styles."[4]

Song information[edit]

"Mustapha"[edit]

Main article: Mustapha (Queen song)

"Mustapha" is a song written by Freddie Mercury. It was released as a single in 1979.

The lyrics consist of English, Arabic, Persian and possibly a number of invented words. Some understandable words are "Mustapha", "Ibrahim" and the phrases "Allah, Allah, Allah we'll pray for you", "salaam alaykum" and "alaykum salaam".

In live performances, such as the performance on Live Killers, Mercury would often sing the opening vocals of "Mustapha" in place of the complex introduction to "Bohemian Rhapsody", going from "Allah, we'll pray for you" to "Mama, just killed a man...". However, sometimes the band performed an almost full version of the song, with Mercury at the piano.

"Fat Bottomed Girls"[edit]

Main article: Fat Bottomed Girls

"Fat Bottomed Girls" was written by Brian May with lead vocals shared by Mercury and May, who sings lead on the chorus. On stage Mercury sang the entire song, with Roger Taylor and May doing harmonies. Both guitar and bass are played in drop-D tuning for this song, a rarity for Queen.

"Jealousy"[edit]

Main article: Jealousy (Queen song)

"Jealousy" was penned by Mercury and features May playing his Hairfred acoustic guitar placing small pieces of piano wire under the frets to produce the "buzzing" effect of a sitar. This effect had already been used on "White Queen (As It Began)", from Queen II. All vocals were recorded by Mercury.

"Bicycle Race"[edit]

Main article: Bicycle Race

"Bicycle Race" is a complex composition by Mercury. It features several modulations, unusual chord functions, a metre change (4/4 to 6/8 and back), and a programmatic section (a race of guitars emulating the bicycle race).

"If You Can't Beat Them"[edit]

"If You Can't Beat Them" was another hard rock composition by John Deacon and a live favourite for the band in late 1970s. It is one of the few songs by Deacon where May plays all the guitars and contains a guitar solo of over two minutes, making it one of the longest guitar solos in a Queen song.

"Let Me Entertain You"[edit]

"Let Me Entertain You" was written by Mercury, directed towards the audience. The line "we'll sing to you in Japanese" is a reference to May's Teo Torriatte, from A Day at the Races. The song also contains a reference to their record labels at the time (Elektra and EMI Records) with the line "With Elektra and EMI we'll show you where it's at". The idea of a guitar riff in parallel sixths was re-used later in the Innuendo track, "The Hitman".

"Dead on Time"[edit]

"Dead on Time", written by May, features some of the fastest and most aggressive guitar work by its author, as well as intense drumming by Taylor. The song contains two high belts by lead singer Freddie Mercury that top at C#5. Performed at high tempo for Queen, it was considered by most fans to be an ideal live number, but was curiously never played in concert; May would only incorporate snippets of it in his guitar solos during the Jazz Tour.

The song resembles "Keep Yourself Alive" from Queen's self-titled debut album. In the last chorus, the words "keep yourself alive" are sung, and in the lyrics attached to the album, those words are written in capitals.

The song ends with the sound of a thunderbolt, followed by Mercury screaming "You're dead!" The thunderbolt was actually recorded by May on a portable recorder during a vicious thunderstorm. The album's liner notes credit the thunderbolt to God.

"In Only Seven Days"[edit]

"In Only Seven Days" is Deacon's other songwriting contribution on the album, and shares similarities with one of his previous songs, "Spread Your Wings". Deacon also played acoustic and electric guitar on this song. It was the B-Side on "Don't Stop Me Now".

"Dreamers Ball"[edit]

"Dreamers Ball" is May's tribute to Elvis Presley, who had died one year before. The arrangement for the concert version was completely different, with May and Taylor doing vocal brasses.

"Fun It"[edit]

"Fun It" was a funk track with a disco vibe by Taylor, where both Mercury and himself shared the vocals. Taylor did the lead vocals, while Mercury was backup. Taylor used Syndrum pads and played most of the instruments. It can be seen as a precursor to "Another One Bites the Dust", especially with the intro of this track.

"Leaving Home Ain't Easy"[edit]

"Leaving Home Ain't Easy" was a ballad by May, who also sang all the vocals (lead and harmony). His voice was sped up for the bridge.

"Don't Stop Me Now"[edit]

Main article: Don't Stop Me Now

"Don't Stop Me Now" is Mercury's top ten single in the UK and is one of Queen's most famous songs. May's only input is a short guitar solo and backing vocals. The song was used in the now-famous bar scene of the motion picture Shaun of the Dead. In addition, the BBC show Top Gear named it the top song in a viewer poll of Top Ten driving songs.[8] Google also used the song for their Google Doodle to commemorate Mercury's 65 birthday on 5 September 2011.[9]

"More of That Jazz"[edit]

"More of That Jazz" is yet another one of Taylor's bitter comments about current society and the way rock and roll is disrespected. It is loop based and Taylor plays most instruments and sings all vocals, reaching some very high notes (peaking on an E5). The outro also contains short clips from many songs on the album, including "Dead on Time", "Bicycle Race", "Mustapha", "If You Can't Beat Them", "Fun It", and "Fat Bottomed Girls".

2011 re-issue[edit]

On 8 November 2010, record company Universal Music announced a remastered and expanded reissue of the album set for release in March 2011. This was part of a new record deal between Queen and Universal Music, which meant Queen's association with EMI would come to an end after almost 40 years. All Queen albums were remastered and reissued in 2011. The deluxe edition contains five additional tracks on a separate EP. The second batch of albums (the band's middle five albums) was released in June 2011. The extra tracks included the single version of "Fat Bottomed Girls", an instrumental version of "Bicycle Race", a version of "Don't Stop Me Now" with "long lost guitars", a live version of "Let Me Entertain You", and an early acoustic take of "Dreamer's Ball".

The 2011 reissue corrected the tape glitch at the beginning of Fat Bottomed Girls which had been present on all previous compact disc editions of the album (as well as 1997 compilation album Queen Rocks), however it also added a previously unused kick-drum part to the track Jealousy, making the track sound drastically different from all previous releases.

Singles[edit]

Four singles were released from the album:

  • "Bicycle Race"/"Fat Bottomed Girls (edit)" – Elektra E45541; released December 1978.
"Bicycle Race" and "Fat Bottomed Girls" were released in 1978 as a double A-side; the band staged a famous nude, all-female bicycle race to promote the single. The bicycle race took place on 17 September 1978 at Wimbledon Stadium in London. The picture sleeve showed a rear view of one of the ladies on her bicycle, but a pair of red panties were painted on to avoid public outcry. Legend has it that the band borrowed the bicycles from a store ("Halfords", according to the liner notes), but upon returning them were informed that they would have to purchase all the seats, as they had been used in an improper manner (i.e. without clothing). "Fat Bottomed Girls" also contains one of Taylor's most memorable drum fills at about 2:52 on Jazz, but at 2:16 on Greatest Hits.
  • "Mustapha" was released in 1979 only in Bolivia, Spain, Yugoslavia and Germany. Its B-side was "Dead on Time" ("In Only Seven Days" in Yugoslavia).
  • "Don't Stop Me Now"/"More of That Jazz" – Elektra E46008; released February 1979.
"Don't Stop Me Now" was released in 1979; its B-side was "In Only Seven Days" ("More of That Jazz" in the US and Canada).
  • "Jealousy"/"Fun It" – Elektra E46039; released April 1979.
"Jealousy" was released in 1979 in the US, New Zealand, Brazil, Russia, and Canada; its B-side was "Fun It" ("Don't Stop Me Now" in Russia, on a blue flexi disc).

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Mustapha"   Freddie Mercury 3:01
2. "Fat Bottomed Girls"   Brian May 4:16
3. "Jealousy"   Mercury 3:14
4. "Bicycle Race"   Mercury 3:01
5. "If You Can't Beat Them"   John Deacon 4:15
6. "Let Me Entertain You"   Mercury 3:01
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Dead on Time"   May 3:23
2. "In Only Seven Days"   Deacon 2:30
3. "Dreamer's Ball"   May 3:30
4. "Fun It"   Roger Taylor 3:29
5. "Leaving Home Ain't Easy"   May 3:15
6. "Don't Stop Me Now"   Mercury 3:29
7. "More of That Jazz"   Taylor 4:16

Personnel[edit]

Sound engineers:

  • Geoff Workman
  • John Etchells

Charts and certifications[edit]

Alternate artwork[edit]

A bicycle race with nude women was held to promote the album, the single and the "Fat Bottomed Girls" single.[29] This photo was included as a fold-out poster with the album "Jazz".[29] It was also included as an alternate single cover for "Bicycle Race.[29]

Fold out included in album

A small version of the poster comes with the Crown Jewels box set. This was the first Queen album recorded outside the UK, for tax purposes. Included in the liner notes is the attribution: "Thunderbolt courtesy of God", referring to the crash of thunder heard at the end of "Dead on Time" which May recorded with a portable audio recorder during a thunderstorm. The album artwork was suggested by Roger Taylor, who previously saw a similar design painted on the Berlin Wall.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jazz (Queen album) at AllMusic
  2. ^ Creem review (archived at queenarchives)
  3. ^ "CG: Queen". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Q, February 2006, p.108.
  5. ^ By Dave Marsh (8 February 1979). "Jazz | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Queen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Marsh, Dave (8 February 1979). "Queen: Jazz". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  8. ^ Queen win Top Gears Best Driving Song ever poll Queen Zone. Retrieved 1January 2013
  9. ^ Freddie Mercury Google doodle celebrates Queen singer's birthday. The Mirror. Retrieved 1January 2013
  10. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  16. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "Queen – Jazz". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "Queen". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  20. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Queen – Jazz" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Queen in the field Interpret. Enter Jazz in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  21. ^ "French album certifications – Queen – Jazz" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select QUEEN and click OK
  22. ^ "Les Albums Or :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Queen; 'Jazz')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  24. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Queen – Jazz" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  25. ^ "Polish album certifications – Queen – Jazz" (in Polish). Polish Producers of Audio and Video (ZPAV). 
  26. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Queen; 'Jazz')". Hung Medien. 
  27. ^ "British album certifications – Queen – Jazz". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Jazz in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  28. ^ "American album certifications – Queen – Jazz". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  29. ^ a b c Sixty-five naked women were perched atop bicycles rented from Halford's Cycles and sent racing around Wimbledon Stadium

External links[edit]