40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2003
At this point, Queen were on the verge of another makeover: this time toward a more funk/pop phase which was slightly hinted at here, but taken up even more on the next two albums following this one: _The Game_ and _Hot Space_ (excluding the Flash Gordon soundtrack.)
It seems that this album gets pretty mixed reviews from diehard Queen fans, and more casual ones. My opinion of the album? I tend to agree with both sides of the camp. I'm going to get to the negative stuff first, just to get it out of the way.
While I think it's a great album, I can't help feeling that some of it seems a bit lackluster, uninspired and forced for Queen's own typical high standards, particularly during the second half. First off, the album seems a bit uneven, mainly because the hard-hitting and upbeat numbers seem to play out consecutively throughout the first half, while the second half seems more subdued in dynamics and atmosphere. Listening to the transition from a (mostly) first half of upbeat numbers to a (mostly) second half of low-key numbers can be quite a tough pill to swallow for a listener. It probably would have been nicer if the track order was switched around and mixed up more, like they did on the majority of their earlier 70s albums. All of this gives the impression that Queen got a bit hasty and careless with the production of the album, as if they were on a quick deadline to release an album within a short period of time. The overall feel of the album comes across as a bit sloppily executed, when in fact Queen were one of THE bands/producers known for their precision, meticulousness and perfectionism.
Queen fans will probably want to see me fry in hell for all of these last comments, but Queen is only my all-time favorite band, and I say all of this because Queen were a band who set high standards for themselves, and it's hard not to notice when they've stepped down a bit.
Now the goods. This is definitely a fun (and elegant) album to listen to, especially when you're in need of a good cheer-up. Hard to not feel good after listening to the sensuous, lusty and jovial/celebratory vocals of Freddie Mercury, the hypnotic crunch of Brian's self-made guitar, the bombastic drumming of Roger Talyor and John Deacon's tasty basslines backing it all up. "Mustapha" is an Arabic-like number with Freddie singing mostly wordless (but hypnotic and engrossing) vocal lines which give the track an almost spiritual aura. The musicianship is intelligent and top-notch here as well. "Fat Bottomed Girls" many probably know. "Jealousy" is an excellent number featuring Brian May playing some guitar lines that sound almost eastern. Freddie's vocals as always are convincing. "Bicycle Race" shows off the kind of perfectionism and meticulousness Queen were known for perfectly: a number with a sheer amount of complexity crammed throughout it's short playing time. I always loved how Queen made tracks that sounded like "many songs played within a single song." They managed to make their complex musical point in quarter time of what most classic progressive rockers did, which puts the latter to shame. The intelligent chords & progressions, the abrupt switches in dynamics and other factors give this track an almost symphonic quality, as it plays out like an almost ultra-quick symphony - and not to mention those ultra-classy vocal harmonies soaked throughout. During the second half of the track, Brian May manages to slip in some licks based on ionian scales for three different keys - all of which are in ascending mode. This also adds to the "symphonic" quality the track possesses.
"Let Me Entertain You" and "Dead On Time" are hard-hitters in the Queen tradition. The former features some fairly risqué lyrics, with some of Freddie's more expressive vocals, while the latter seems to return to the proto-speed metal that Queen pretty much pioneered with "Stone Cold Crazy," particularly in Brian May's frenzied riffing. This track is somewhat scary, as well as exciting. "In Only Seven Days" is a fairly low-key number written by bassist John Deacon. Features some wispy orchestration (nope, Queen didn't use synths - mostly Brian's guitar) and Freddie gives an elegant and sexy vocal performance. "Dreamer's Ball" mixes lounge jazz and Renaissance attributes - the latter in an irreverent, inorganic fashion (reminds me a bit of Gentle Giant.) "Fun It" gives the hint of things to come on later albums, as it's a funk/disco track. "Leaving Home Ain't Easy" is a nice ballad with a nice use of Brian May's gentle vocals. "Don't Stop Me Now" is just downright exciting and sophisticated. "More Of That Jazz" is a mid-tempo rocker featuring some scorching guitar licks. There's a part near the end of the track where you get a recap of the album, as you hear quick bits of a few tracks spliced together for an almost mind-warping remix.
The uneven feel of the album is the only real flaw, which causes me to take off 1/2 star from the 5 scale, but on the whole, the strengths outweigh the flaws by a longshot, as the songwriting and musicianship are still strong.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2008
Wow. Simply, wow. This album slams you from the very beginning of the first song, "Mustapha," and keeps beating you over the head mercilessly with Queen's absolutely masterful rocking. The entire album is one of their most cohesive, and highlights all the members' insane musical abilities, from Brian May's intense guitar work ("Dead On Time" is an excellent example) to Freddie Mercury's piercing vocals. This album is just good fun and good music. Queen's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor is rampant ("Let Me Entertain You" and "If You Can't Beat Them"), and this album is polished and sharp in its manic pace. This album is for the listener looking for an album to just let loose and rock out to. It's not a casual listening album, but it is guaranteed to entertain you, no pun intended! With the possibility of redundancy on my part, it's GREAT!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2011
Queen released this album at the height of their 1970's popularity. This album followed years of bad reviews of the band from magazines like Rolling Stone and other music critics who never really seemed to understand that Queen did not want to be Led Zeppelin (who also received lack luster reviews from Rolling Stone). Queen wanted to be different and create their own unique sound and they were not afraid of any criticism they might receive for being so daring in their musical approach. With the release of Jazz, I truly believe that Queen was finally at the point where their success amongst their fan base spoke louder to them than any writer ever could. Which is why Queen felt that their bombastic, campy, stylized and over the top approach to music was something to be celebrated regardless of what any critic might think. It was Queen's way of saying "so you don't like the music that so many of our fans love? We'll then, here's some more".
This is quite evident on Jazz.
First off, they pissed off many critics because they decided to call the album Jazz even though it has nothing to do with jazz at all. Neither did the film "All That Jazz" (which was nominated for Best Picture) but that's another issue. They then start the "Jazz" album off with Freddie Mercury's brilliant vocals singing what amounts to some sort of Arabic prayer which suddenly erupts into a funny and strangely captivating song titled "Mustapha". It's silly, over the top, and something only Queen would consider. From there the album then twists and turns through different genres ranging from hard rock tunes (Let Me Entertain You / Dean on Time) to ballads (Jealousy / In Only Seven Days) to arena rock standouts (Fat Bottomed Girls / Bicycle Race) to feel good songs (If You Can't Beat Them / Don't Stop Me Now) all with performed with Queen's unique and uncompromising style. The album has very few week spots and represents a diverse, fun and eclectic mix of music that only Queen would dare to attempt.
Anyone who truly "gets" Queen will love this album and the 2011 re-master is the way to go!
After 30 years of success, perhaps it's time for Rolling Stone to re-review the album and give it its proper rating (like they've done with so many other artists that were a little bit too different or ahead of their time).
And if they refuse, considering the fact that people are still purchasing, listening and enjoying this album today makes me feel pretty confident that Queen had the last laugh on this one.
I can picture the four members of Queen with their middle fingers in the air saying...
"Vontap ist ahiln avil ahiln adhim Mustapha, Aleikum Salaam hey!"
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
Having had this on vinyl,cassette,and cd twice,I was slightly worried how this cd would compare,there was no need,out of all the Queen remasters,this is the best so far,just listen to Mustapha,it is just awesome,sounds like Freddie is in the room with you.
I will say,and this is a problem with all of the current Queen remasters,that the second discs are a missed oppertunity,they have more stuff in the vaults,I mean, a live track from Montreal? surely if you are the kind of fan to spend 17/18 bucks for the remaster,you would already have this concert? but I refuse to deduct it any stars simply because the Remaster is THAT good.
Enjoy and get more of that Jazz....
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2004
This CD was Queen's last 70's studio offering.And what a package it is!Freddie's vocals and Brian's guitar playing at the forefront steer you through the many and diverse tracks while theirs and John's and Roger's creativity cap it royally and gracefully.If you like rockers there's DEAD ON TIME and FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS,if you like pop there's BYCICLE RACE.JEALOUSY and IN ONLY SEVEN DAYS are two of their greatest ballads showcasing Freddie's incredibly gifted pipes.To top it all off,they adventure into a blues-oriented DREAMERS BALL where you can picture Freddie moving and singing like Josephine Baker would.A Great album overall!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2004
if you are a Queen fan listen to this album ten times through headphones..then tell me it is not the greatest rock album of all time! If you don't get it then you are missing the point! Imagine Brian Freddie Roger and John knocking these tracks out in the studio and you will possibly get the point of this seminal, beautiful album!!! If you don't get it then I for one don't get it!!! And 'In Only Seven Days' is the most beautiful holiday romance song ever written.....
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2011
Queen's seventh album entitled Jazz was released in November of 1978.
The album has always had the distinction to many of Queen's fans of being Queen's worst 1970s album but I think it is great (as I found out when I first got the CD in April of 1992).
The album saw the band co-producing with Roy Thomas Baker for the first time since 1975's A Night at the Opera (they would not ever work together again on original material) and was recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland and Superbear Studios in France with the band avoiding the British tax man.
We begin with lead singer Freddie Mercury's "Mustapha" which is a Middle Eastern sounding track and a unique opener. Freddie singing in Arabic is a grand way to kick off a diverse Queen record. Next was the album's US Top 30 hit "Fat Bottomed Girls" and penned by guitarist Brian May and is a great rocker dedicated to Brian, Roger and John's wives (or in Roger's case girlfriend) and was a concert staple on the 1978/1980/1982 US tours. Freddie's ballad "Jealousy" follows and is a beautiful song which did come out as a single in the States but flopped. On this remaster, the bass drum which was muted was restored and brought up in the mix. Next is the album's biggest US Top 30 hit "Bicycle Race" (which was the A-side to Fat Bottomed Girls) and this Freddie penned number was written whilst watching the Tour de France from his hotel suite. This song showed Queen did not ever take themselves too seriously. Next is bass player John Deacon's rocker "If You Can't Beat Them" which was John's first true rock number he wrote for the band. The first half ends with Freddie's homage to the excessive rock lifestyle called "Let Me Entertain You" which is a great rocker and was a staple live on the band's 1978/79 and 1980/81 tours.
We begin the second half with a May rocker called "Dead on Time" which is one of his best rockers. Next is a Deacon ballad "In Only Seven Days" about meeting someone and falling in love while on vacation (also one of few Queen tracks not to have backing vocal harmonies). The track would not have sounded out of place on either Billy Joel's The Stranger or 52nd Street albums as it has the feel of a Billy Joel tune musically. Next is Brian's jazzy "Dreamers Ball" which is a song which may sound lazy on studio version but when played live on the Jazz tour was better. Next is drummer Roger Taylor's "Fun It" with Freddie and Roger trading lead vocals. The rock-disco track sounds like a pre-cursor to Another One Bites the Dust on the next album. Next is Brian's "Leaving Home Ain't Easy" and has Brian May on all vocals and is a nice, acoustic number. The big UK hit and song that stalled at #86 in the US "Don't Stop Me Now" is next and one of Freddie's classic pop rock songs and a great song. We end the album with Roger's rocker "More of That Jazz" which had Roger on EVERYTHING (including all vocals, drums, guitars and bass) and is a great song. Before the song ends, the abrupt appearance of collage 'soundbites' of most of the tracks over the course of the album, probably spliced in to give the false sense of sounding like a commercial for Queen's Jazz album which Elektra Records probably did for radio promotion in 1978.
Jazz when released hit #6 in the US and went Platinum immediately but sales were soft compared to the four previous albums but still a great record nevertheless.
In September of 2011, Queen re-released this classic masterpiece as well as the other four studio albums from 1977 to 1982 (News Of The World, The Game, Flash Gordon Soundtrack and Hot Space) as all newly remastered 2-CD Deluxe Editions painstakingly remastered by Bob Ludwig (who did a remaster of A Night at the Opera for its 30th Anniversary in 2005) for most of the world (the worldwide release outside the US and Canada happened in June) and these new remasters buries any previous CD version of the back catalog.
The bonus CD for Jazz contains the single mix of "Fat Bottomed Girls" which is commonly on all greatest hits collections. Then you get an instrumental mix of "Bicycle Race". Next is "Don't Stop Me Now" with guitars that were not on the original mix. Then you get a live recording of "Let Me Entertain You" recorded in Montreal in 1981 (appears on Queen Rock Montreal). Then an early take of "Dreamers Ball". The booklet that comes with this has just about everything that came with the original LP artwork, lyrics and credits plus extra photos of the band.
Some will say why buy again but I say go for it because of the remastering!
This album is highly recommended!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2001
...But not much more. Jazz is quite disappointing, compared with the six wonderful albums Queen released before it - not a bad album, just not as good as the other ones, and not one you'd like to hear again and again. It's a shame, too, because it could have been much, much better. All songs Freddie Mercury wrote for Jazz are fantastic, some of them in the level of his earlier writing; by their next album, The Game, Freddy's writing began to deterriorate and Brian May and the others took over. On this album, however, songs by Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon are just not good enough and Freddie's great compositions are somehow lost. The album simply doesn't work as a whole.
Freddie's opening song for the album, Mustapha, is extremely enjoyable and shows great promise which, sadly, doesn't come true later in the album. The song doesn't make much sense, but Freddie's vocals and Brian's guitar are fantastic. It's really unique as well, showing Freddie's very original songwriting. 'Jealousy' is a beautiful song too, and 'Let Me Entertain You' and 'Don't Stop Me Now' are fantastic rockers. 'Bicycle Race' is probably the best song on the album, and ranks with Freddie's finest works.
Guitar master Brian May's music had always been more conservative rock compared to Freddy's experimental opera-rock, but always masterfuly written and performed. His songs on Jazz, although they're all quite good and well composed, are quite forgetable. 'Fat Bottomed Girls' is quite enjoyable, but is really nothing special and is not much more than a pale copy of great Brian May rockers like 'Son And Daughter' and 'Tie Your Mother Down'. The sharp wit of those two is replaced in 'Fat Bottomed Girls' with simple tasteless crudeness. 'Dead On Time', 'Dreamer's Ball' and 'Leaving Home Ain't Easy' are all good songs, but not one of them will leave much of an impression on you.
Bassist John Deacon's offerings on this album, 'If You Can't Beat Them' and 'In Only Seven Days', are particularily weak, copies of his wonderful previous works. Drummerman Roger Taylor does a pretty good job on 'More Of That Jazz'. It has a good beat, and powerful drum and guitar work, but is not much of a song itself, though it does provide a decent ending to this mediocre album (and a rather unsucessful attempt to make it appear as a conceptual album). His other song, 'Fun It', is better not mentioned.
Again, I'd like to make it clear that Jazz is not a bad album. It's quite enjoyable and 'Bicycle Race' and 'Mustapha' alone make the purchase worthwhile - but only after you own the other, much better albums. If you're trying to go for a complete Queen collection, don't pass Jazz by - it does have some good songs. If you're looking for just one album to try, get The Game for an energetic, hitful pop album, News Of The World for a rock album, or any of the first five for a real Queen album.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2005
...but "Jazz" is bound to be one of your favorite Queen albums.I would like to quickly address the concerns of people who say that this cd lacks the song-writing prowess of other earlier albums such as "Queen II," "Sheer Heart Attack," or "Night at the Opera." It is true - these songs are not as well-written! This album does not contain a genius moment like "March of the Black Queen" or "Bohemian Rhapsody." Some would say that, because this album has no masterpiece and lacks some of the masterful songwriting of earlier albums, it is worse and not warranted to a full rating of five stars.
And therefore, why do I say nay? Why do I say, despite the arguments of other people, that this is a full five star album? I'll tell you. This album is terrific because it is all about feeling. When you listen to this album, the songs have power to conjure up emotions within you. That is the success of Queen. When I listen to their music, I'm not just thinking about the merely instrumental and vocal passages. These songs take me away! It is difficult to describe to wear; but when you are listening to particularly good music, you forget that instruments are being played and rather think of the emotions that the songs conjure up.
Given, not all songs on this album are that way. There are admitting some lackluster numbers. Except for one, these are not bad songs, but merely lacking in the enjoyability of the greater tracks. I can genuinely say that there is only one song on this album that is worth a skip. As to the concern of the flow of the album - it is true that this album is an extremely eclectic mix of different styles. It has rocking moments, woeful moments, and fun moments. Sometimes, it seems like the transition between a low-key song and high-key song is too sharp. But to be quite honest with you, these somewhat awkward transitions are easily forgotten. In a couple listens, this cd is of such a nature that when one songs ends, you expect the beginning of the next one. It does flow as an album - it merely takes time to get used to the order of the songs. Now, I would like to review each song:
1. Mustapha: Excellent opening cut. Other people say "Let Me Entertain You" should have opened the album, but in my opinion this one is even stronger. As we have seen from earlier albums, Queen loves to shock us from the very first note. Freddie sings "Ibrahim!" and has our attention with immediacy. The lyrics in this one are quite fun to sing along to - even if you have no idea what he is saying. Also, it is of note that this song flat-out rocks! Might I recommend you listen to it loud? At 1:20 it just explodes. Great song. 9.5/10
2. Fat Bottomed Girls: This is one that you have probably heard. The full version of this song includes extended guitar work which makes the song flow even better. "Fat Bottomed Girls" starts with an excellent a cappella intro with some lovely vocal harmonies that Freddie always knew how to pull off. Then that rocking guitar riff comes in, followed by drums, followed by vocals, followed by some excellently placed bass slides courtesy of John Deacon. Finally we get to the chorus which is a great sing-along. Trust me, if you listen to this song in a room with a lot of people...a lot of people will be singing. A very good, rocking song. 9/10.
3. Jealousy: Follows the tradition of "Nevermore," "Love of My Life," and "You Take My Breath Away." This song is not quite on par with those others (maybe it's the presence of the drums, which make the song a bit more conventional.) Regardless, Freddie's vocals are excellent - and the choir behind him at times is done very well. The bassline and piano line complement the feel of the song perfectly. Brian May also uses a sitar-like instrument sparsely but effectively in this one. Overall, Freddie does another great job of conveying a distinct emotion - jealousy - through a song. By the way, if you listen very closely to the end of the song you'll hear a little bit of bass sliding that is the transition to the next song. Not sure how many people pick it up. 9/10
4. Bicycle Race: This, quite simply, is Queen in its purest form. It is completely ridiculous, while maintaining excellent musicianship at all times. Just as in "Fat Bottomed Girls" there is an excellent - even better - a cappella introduction, one that is quite shocking when listened to loud. Then bass and drums come in, and Freddie sings about an emotion we all have sometimes - wanting to ride our bicycles! I think what he's getting at in this song is that sometimes we should stop worrying so much about everything, and instead use simple activities - like bicycling - to help relax us and "forget all our duties." The lyrics in this song are just so funny and great. One minute in, there is a huge change in the feeling and tempo of the song - excellently done! The bells solo and guitar solo are also done perfectly. Oh yea, and the bassline is very well done too. And all this in three minutes! 9.75/10
5. If You Can't Beat Them: Remember how I said earlier that there is only one song which warrants a pass? Well, this is it. Very trite sounding. The riff is not really clever at all. The lyrics are nothing either. Same about the guitar solo, and lyrics. Even the singing isn't particularly amazing - unusual for Mercury. True, there is one good moment of silence in the song (as in, the silence is used effectively), but overall this song is just bad - by Queen standards and elsewise. Do not despair though! "Night at the Opera" had "Sweet Lady," yet remains a stellar album. Just as then, this album will improve - and John will make a comeback. 4 / 10
6. Let Me Entertain You: Mercury picks the album back up again. This song is all about how Mercury wants to entertain us. I'd say he usually succeeds. The guitar riff on this one is pretty good. The drum work is very well done on this track, and the lyrics are a hoot too - very clever. Most people call this one of their favorites on the album. I tend to disagree, but it is still a strong cut. 8/10
7. Dead On Time: May always provides us with a great rocker on the album. This song is no exception. The guitar riff comes in which quickly proves that Queen is capable making songs of something like Metal. It's just quite furious riff. The bass doubles it which only adds to the rocking feel. The ensuing lyrics are very angry, a mocking ode to the people who live in a world of anxiety and greed. He proclaims that these people who always want to be dead on time - are in fact dead! ON the inside, that is. Clever. The addition of the "thunderbolt courtesy of God" is also very smart and gives the song a perfect climax. There is then rain, which is used as an expertly transition to the next song. 9/10
8. In Only Seven Days: This is the shortest song on the album and one of the best. Deacon makes up for his mistake of "If You Can't Beat Them" with this heartfelt number. The piano which starts the number is very soothing. Then, Mercury's vocals come in which are just as sweet as ever. This song bears witness to the extreme versatility of Freddie's voice, which but one song ago was fuelled with anger. His ability to convey completely different emotions in each song help make this album as enjoyable as it is. The lyrics are also terrific, with lovely imagery about a short-lived romance on a vacation. The guitar solo is multi-layered and sounds as though it could have been lifted off of a song from the "Night at the Opera" era of Queen. Overall, this song - while short - contributes greatly to the feel of the album. 9.5/10
9. Dreamer's Ball: May's number here is in a way similar to the previous track, which deals with a love that cannot be. This song, however, is quite cheerful. The guitar chords and orchestration are the jazziest thing on the album, and have a very bluesy and lounge-y feeling. The lyrics are again well written, with excellent imagery. This song is yet another hidden hit on the album. It really makes you want to dance. You can usually tell you're dealing with a great song when it makes you want to dance. 9.5/10
10. Fun It: The Roger Taylor songs on this album often cause a great deal of controversy. People say that these songs are an indication of where Queen was going - simpler recording with less real substance. Maybe the Roger songs are indications of all that. Regardless, they should not be so harshly judged. Though the songs are not extremely well written, they are still enjoyable. "Fun It" is a pretty fun song which makes you want to tap your toes. It's got a good beat and some well done guitar work - quite sharp sounding. This song might not be stellar, but it is so different from the next one that the sudden change is actually quite enjoyable. 7/10
11. Leaving Home Ain't Easy: This May song is in the same vein as "'39" and "Long Away" in that it is an acoustic based number which Brian sings himself. The opening riff is very soft and also very pleasant. There are then some nice strings - I suppose it must be more guitar orchestration, on account of the fact that Jazz features no synthesizers. The lyrics in this song are particularly memorable and convey perfectly the emotion of having to leave a loved place and loved ones. In the instrumental, Brian modulates his voice in such a way that it sounds like a woman begging him not to love. All in all, a very touching number with great lyrics. Great transition to the next number, as well. 9 / 10
12. Don't Stop Me Now: This song, much like Bicycle Race, is pure Queen. It opens with a very nice piano line and the excellent Freddie vocals that we can always depend on. About thirty-two seconds into this song, it gets much louder, while still based on piano, drums, and bass. To further show the versatility of the band, they manage to go without a guitar line of any sort all the way to the guitar solo! Most bands would be incapable of creating a rock song with no guitar for the majority of the song - but then, Queen wasn't most bands. The guitar solo itself is excellent done, one of Brian's most exuberant. It reminds me quite a bit of the "Somebody to Love" guitar solo, in that it captures the energy of the song up to the solo and translates it into guitar form. Hats off for that one, Brian. This song is such a fun number; you really can't help but sing along. The excitement of the track finally ends with Mercury saying he doesn't want to stop at all. Have you ever had a night where you really felt abso-freakin-lutely wonderful? That's exactly what this song is about! It's about that time when you really feel alive. This song really captures the emotion excellently. At the end of the song, Freddie sings the tune of the song to himself, as his voice fades out. Well that's what it feels like on an awesome day - you just want to keep singing into the distance! Excellent song. 9.75 / 10
13. More of that Jazz: It's interesting that this song was added. The album could have well been finished with "Don't Stop Me Now." That's probably how I would have ended it. Regardless, this track was added, and it is enjoyable enough. Roger Taylor sings on it which is always a pretty nice change from Freddie's voice. This song is less funky than "Fun It" and seems more serious too. The guitar riff is pretty catchy too. I also enjoy the chorus. This song is another one fun to sing along to - even the collage of the album's other songs at the end. Overall, this may not be the best way to end the album, but enjoyable enough. 7/10
So, now I must tie up loose ends. Is this work as genius as some of Queen's early works? Certainly not. Does it contain an absolutely stunning song of genius? Certainly not. It does, however, have tracks which are extremely fun and enjoyable to listen to. This album always reminds me of summer; partially because I first listened to it during the summer; but also because it has an exuberant, fun, and joyous nature to it. This is indeed essential Queen - highly recommended!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2003
1978 saw Queen retaining their unquenchable self-belief, but struggling somewhat to maintain the standards of their first 6 albums, particularly in the song writing and album sequencing departments. Firstly, why didn't they open this album with Let Me Entertain You? This would have been as arresting an opener as Death On Two Legs was on A Night At The Opera. Nevermind...Mustapha opens proceedings with a quirky blast - I didn't really 'get' this number till I listened in the phones and heard it explode in widescreen with Brian's double-tracked guitars. Awesome! Fat Bottomed Girls is ludicrous, but fun. I find it hard to resist Brian's rockers, and despite the ridiculous words this has the feel of a Queen classic. Jealousy is a fine Freddy ballad, with some lovely acoustic flourishes from Brian. Bicycle Race, like FBG, is ridiculous, but irresistable! I don't think there's too many bands one can say that about. The musicianship and complex arrangement win through, although in terms of emotional impact, I don't think Bicycle/Fat was a patch on Rock You/Champions the previous year. I'm not a fan of most of John Deacon's songs - Best Friend and Dust being the exceptions, and I think his two songs here, If You Can't Beat 'Em and In Only Seven Days, are pop fluff. Queen usually managed to put interesting touches into all their arrangements, but John's songs too often sound like they could have been written for any forgettable 70s pop band. Let Me Entertain You is another fun, hard-rocking and not-a-little-camp number, with great riffing and drumming. Brian's Dead On Time contains mind-boggling riffing from the guitar maestro - a reminder of why he and Queen are still feted as visionaries by subsequent generations of rocking bands. Brian also shines with the lovely harmonies of Leaving Home Ain't Easy, and the jazz-blues atmospherics of Dreamers Ball. This song sounds more like a vaudevillian Freddie number, until you remember that Brian also wrote Good Company. I'm not a huge fan of Roger's songwriting either - although he does have some good rocking numbers on the earlier albums. His work here, though, truly is not up to scratch. Both Fun It and More Of That Jazz are not really songs as such - they're just ideas. Of course there are the usual nice touches, particularly from Brian, but they're not enough to turn these pieces into anything approaching memorable songs. So, overall this album doesn't suffer from its diversity as such: it suffers from the lacklustre efforts of some of the song writing. Although this album feels like the end of an era for me, in terms of Queen's loveably bombastic 70s work, it also gives an indication of what was to come - simpler recordings, 'drier' drum sounds and a bunch of filler on each album. Ah well, they had a good run - and their next album, The Game, contains at least 5 great songs. If you're a Queen fan, however, I would recommend buying Jazz, and indeed any of their first eight albums - they all have fantastic album tracks that you won't find on any Greatest Hits compilation.