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!"