Queen - Jazz
What should we do with all this jazz ???
On November 10, 1978, "Queen" released their seventh studio album, "Jazz".
In contrary with the album's title the musical direction of the album has nothing to do with the mythological genre, except perhaps a minor mention in the song "Dreamer's Ball". Even in the track "More of That Jazz" that seals the album, we did not get "More of That Jazz", but only more from Roger Taylor who plays on almost all instruments in the song and concludes the album with an excerpt of flashbacks from the songs "Bicycle Race", "Mustapha", "If You Can't Beat Them", "Fun It" and "Fat Bottomed Girls".
So what is there any way in this album?
There's a disco, funk, and drum machine in Roger Taylor's song "Fun It" where he plays most of the instruments, a bit of John Deacon's hard rock in "If You Can't Beat Them", also a pinch of Brian May's heavy metal with "Dead On Time" and even swing and ballroom music in "Dreamer's Ball" written by Brian May as a tribute to Elvis who passed away a year earlier.
So how did all this musical diversity started?
The year 1978 found "Queen" at the top of world music, after a series of masterful albums, a large collection of hits that have conquered the charts, and non-stop broadcasts on radio stations. The big money the band made and the big tax burden in the UK forced the band to fly out of the kingdom to record the album which was recorded in various destinations including Switzerland and France, which apparently influenced the diverse musical result existing on the album.
Another thing that influenced the varied end result, was the fact that the band returned to work with Roy Thomas Baker who produced Queen's first four albums. This time Baker pulled the band toward other productions he did earlier that year, such as the debut album "The Cars" and the "Infinity" album of the "Journey", both American bands.
Although this album does not maintain a uniform level, it still has some memorable moments, including the three first tracks which begin with the bold and cool "Mustapha" written by Freddie Mercury and include words in Arabic, Persian and gibberish, through Brian May's "Fat Bottomed Girls", which opens with a perfect a cappella and is played with the guitar and bass tuned down in the Drop-D tuning and "Jealousy" with the melancholic sitar sound (which Brian May created with a guitar).
And there is "Leaving Home Ain't Easy" starring Brian May performing all the vocal parts without exception, and also "Let Me Entertain You", a great song that we really like. A classic hard rock that exactly fits as an opening track of a show. Freddie Mercury's vocals are so beautifully synchronized during the verses with Brian May's guitar. Freddie wrote the song as a tribute to the fans and it includes some amusing mentions like: "we'll sing to you in Japanese" which corresponds with May's "Teo Torriatte" from the album "A Day at the Races" or "Hey! If you need a fix, if you want a high, Stickells will see to that" which refers to the band's tour manager Gerry Stickells. By the way, one of the riffs in this song will be used in the song "The Hitman" from the album "Innuendo".
The album also features one of Mercury's complex compositions with "Bicycle Race", including a large number of chords, rhythm breaks, and a transition from the traditional 4/4 rhythm to the unusual 6/8. This ingenious song (and there is no other word to describe it) also includes May's crazy guitar race and the famous ringing of the bicycle bells.
And of course, it is impossible to mention this song without referring to the poster that was part of the original vinyl and features 65 nude models on bikes. The band filmed a clip for this song at Wimbledon Stadium, which included those models, who were hired by a model agency. They rode on the bikes during the clip. The bikes were rented from a bike company who were shocked to find out what use was done with them and refused to get the bike seats back, forcing the band to pay for them.
And we can't finish the review without mentioning one of the band's beautiful songs "Don't Stop Me Now" which was also written by Freddie Mercury, and is mostly led by his piano, accompanied by John Deacon's bass and Roger Taylor's drums, with a Minor contribution by Brian May for his guitar solo and vocal harmonies. This song was chosen by the band's fans as the one with the most beautiful lyrics and it was featured in so many movies and TV series that it's simply impossible to count them.
The album cover was designed by Roger Taylor, inspired by similar graffiti he saw on the Berlin Wall.
It is interesting to note that in the list of thanks on the inner cover, there is a special thank you to Thunderbolt courtesy of God. This is a thunder recorded by Brian May during a lightning storm and appears in the song "Dead on Time".