Jazz (Queen album)

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Jazz
Queen Jazz.png
Studio album by Queen
Released 10 November 1978
Recorded July – October 1978
Studio Mountain Studios, Montreux and Super Bear Studios, Berre-les-Alpes, France
Genre

Heavy metal[1]

Length 44:44
Label
Producer
Queen chronology
News of the World
(1977)News of the World1977
Jazz
(1978)
The Game
(1980)The Game1980
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 the British rock band Queen. It was released on 10 November 1978 by EMI Records in the United Kingdom and by Elektra Records in the United States. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, the album artwork was suggested by Roger Taylor, who previously saw a similar design painted on the Berlin Wall.[4] 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. Jazz has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

Composition[edit]

Side one[edit]

"Mustapha"[edit]

"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]

"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]

"Jealousy" was penned by Mercury and features May playing his Hairfred acoustic guitar. The guitar had been given a replacement hardwood bridge, chiselled flat, with a small piece of fret wire placed between it and the strings, which lay gently above. The strings produce the "buzzing" effect of a sitar.[5] This effect had already been used on "White Queen (As It Began)", from Queen II. All vocals were recorded by Mercury.

"Bicycle Race"[edit]

"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" is another hard rock composition by John Deacon and a live favourite for the band in the 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 (EMI Records, and Elektra) 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".

Side two[edit]

"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 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".

"Dreamer's Ball"[edit]

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

"Fun It"[edit]

"Fun It" is a funk track with a disco vibe by Taylor, where both he and Mercury 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" is 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]

"Don't Stop Me Now" was written by Mercury. It was a top ten hit 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.[6] Google also used the song for their Google Doodle to commemorate Mercury's 65th birthday on 5 September 2011.[7]

"More of That Jazz"[edit]

"More of That Jazz", written by Taylor, 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".

Alternative artwork[edit]

A bicycle race with nude women was held to promote the album and the "Fat Bottomed Girls"/"Bicycle Race" single.[8] A poster of the start of the race was included with copies of the LP. The American release did not include the poster, but did include an order form for it.[4] A smaller portion of the poster image also used as an alternate single cover for "Bicycle Race."[8]

Fold out included in album

A small version of the poster was included with the Crown Jewels box set.

Promotion[edit]

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).
  • "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, USSR, and Canada; its B-side was "Fun It" ("Don't Stop Me Now" in USSR, on a blue flexi disc).

Tour[edit]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[9]
Chicago Tribune1.5/4 stars[10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music2/5 stars[11]
The Guardian5/5 stars[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[13]
Uncut4/5 stars[14]
The Village VoiceC+[15]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Dave Marsh panned Jazz as "more of the same dull pastiche" from Queen, who he said displayed "elitist notions" with some of their musical choices and lyrics. Marsh said "Fat Bottomed Girls" treated women "not as sex objects but as objects, period (the way the band regards people in general)", and finished by famously tagging Queen "the first truly fascist rock band".[9][16] Mitchell Cohen of Creem gave another negative review, calling Jazz "absurdly dull" and filled with "dumb ideas and imitative posturing".[17] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau said the record was not wholly bad, even finding "Bicycle Race" humorous, although he said Queen sounded like the band 10cc "with a spoke, or a pump, up their ass".[15]

Retrospectively, it is cited as one of the band's finest albums, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic calling it "one of their sleekest albums." He cited that the album's diversity and exaggeration made it "more fun than any of their other albums."[9] Alexis Petridis wrote in The Guardian, "Jazz was hysterical in every sense of the word, but the music press comprehensively failed to get the joke, particularly in the US".[12] When Loudersound ranked every Queen album from best to worst, Jazz came fourth, as they felt it presented "some of the most satisfying moments in Queen's career."[18] In a similar list of the band's greatest albums, Ultimate Classic Rock placed Jazz in third position. "Whenever discussions take place about Queen’s incredible string of classic albums throughout the late ‘70s," they wrote, "1978’s ‘Jazz’ is the one that often seems to get the shortest shrift, but tucked away behind its unusually nondescript cover art lies one of the band’s finest albums. Never mind the reliable hit single double-whammy provided by ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ and ‘Bicycle Race,’ ‘Jazz’ is astonishingly deep with underrated Queen gems, ranging from Mercury’s Eastern-spiced wig-out ‘Mustapha,’ to Deacon’s head-banging beast ‘If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them,’ to Taylor’s infectious disco tune ‘Fun It’."[19]

Rolling Stone subsequently featured it on their list of 10 Classic Albums Rolling Stone Initially Panned, indicating they now regarded the album as a "classic. They poked fun at Marsh's original negative review of the album, quipping, "Sometimes a reviewer just seems to have a really, really low opinion of a band, which seems to be the case with Dave Marsh and Queen."[20]

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 Records 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.

Track listing[edit]

All lead vocals by Freddie Mercury unless noted.

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Mustapha"Freddie Mercury 3:01
2."Fat Bottomed Girls"Brian MayMercury with Brian May4:16
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.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
7."Dead on Time"May 3:23
8."In Only Seven Days"Deacon 2:30
9."Dreamer's Ball"May 3:30
10."Fun It"Roger TaylorRoger Taylor with Mercury3:29
11."Leaving Home Ain't Easy"MayMay3:15
12."Don't Stop Me Now"Mercury 3:29
13."More of That Jazz"TaylorTaylor4:16

Personnel[edit]

Queen

Production

  • Geoff Workman – engineer
  • John Etchells – engineer

Charts[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak position
Austrian Albums Chart[21] 8
Canadian Albums Chart[22] 13
Dutch Albums Chart[23] 3
French Albums Chart[24] 7
German Albums Chart[25] 5
New Zealand Albums Chart[26] 20
Norwegian Albums Chart[27] 6
Swedish Albums Chart[28] 6
UK Albums Chart[29] 2
U.S. Billboard 200[30] 6

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[31] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[32] Gold 176,300[33]
Germany (BVMI)[34] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[35] Platinum 100,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[36] Platinum 20,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[37] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marsh, Dave (8 February 1979). "Queen: Jazz". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 June 2018. tight guitar/bass/drums heavy-metal clichés... 
  2. ^ "Queen: Queen 40 Limited Edition Collector's Box Set Volumes 2 & 3". PopMatters. Retrieved 19 June 2018. which continues to mix the group's noted pop works... 
  3. ^ Gaar, Gillian G.. "Album reviews of Queen's second box of reissues". Goldmine. Retrieved 17 June 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "Jazz". Queenonline.com. 
  5. ^ "Guitar Player magazine US Jan 83". www.brianmay.com. 
  6. ^ Queen win Top Gears Best Driving Song ever poll Archived 30 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Queen Zone. Retrieved 1 January 2013
  7. ^ Freddie Mercury Google doodle celebrates Queen singer's birthday. The Mirror. Retrieved 1 January 2013
  8. ^ a b Sixty-five naked women were perched atop bicycles rented from Halford's Cycles and sent racing around Wimbledon Stadium
  9. ^ a b c http://www.allmusic.com/album/jazz-mw0000191373
  10. ^ Kot, Greg (19 April 1992). "An 18-record, 80 Million-copy Odyssey". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 2248. ISBN 0857125958. 
  12. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis (15 December 2011). "Queen: Jazz; The Game; Flash Gordon; Hot Space – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  13. ^ "Queen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Queen – Jazz CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (25 December 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  16. ^ Marsh, Dave (8 February 1979). "Queen: Jazz". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  17. ^ Cohen, Mitchell (March 1979). "Jazz". Creem. Retrieved 18 June 2018. 
  18. ^ "Queen albums ranked from worst to best". Loudersound. Retrieved 18 June 2018. 
  19. ^ "Queen Albums Ranked Worst to Best". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 18 June 2018. 
  20. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/10-classic-albums-rolling-stone-originally-panned-w429731/queen-jazz-1979-w429753
  21. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". austriancharts.at. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  23. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  24. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste". Infodisc.fr. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  25. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  26. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". charts.org.nz. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  27. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". norwegiancharts.com. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  28. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – Jazz". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  29. ^ "Queen". Officialcharts.com. 
  30. ^ "Queen". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  31. ^ "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
  32. ^ "French album certifications – Queen – Jazz" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select QUEEN and click OK
  33. ^ "Les Albums Or :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Archived from the original on 1 November 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Queen; 'Jazz')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  35. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Queen – Jazz" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  36. ^ "Polish album certifications – Queen – Jazz" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. 
  37. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Queen; 'Jazz')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  38. ^ "British album certifications – Queen – Jazz". British Phonographic Industry.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Enter Jazz in the search field and then press Enter.
  39. ^ "American album certifications – Queen – Jazz". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]