Sunday, 3 June 2018

Queen - Jazz (1978)

Heap big woman, you made a bad boy outta me....


Released November 1978

Recorded in Montreux

Running time 44.39

By 1978, I was listening to Queen only out of loyalty to the band that had been my favourite from 1974-76, from Queen II through to A Day At The Races. Now, however, they seemed almost totally irrelevant. Bands like The Clash, The Jam, The Ramones, Blondie, The Stranglers and Stiff Little Fingers and artists like Elvis Costello and Ian Dury had completely taken over my listening habits to the detriment of poor old Queen. This was the last Queen album I bought upon release, hiding it as I scurried home in case any of my fellow punkers saw me. 

This was the album that finally saw much of the music media of the time turn on Queen, led by Dave Marsh in "Rolling Stone", who, incredibly unfairly, denounced them as "sexist" and "fascist". To me, there wasn't much sexist in openly gay Freddie Mercury singing with tongue-in-cheek about Fat Bottomed Girls. The song was simply silly, not offensive. What the media had not got wrong, though, was the fact that the Queen formula of multi-style indulgence was now wearing a bit thin and the camp vaudeville just seemed out of place now. 


1. Mustapha

2. Fat Bottomed Girls
3. Jealousy
4. Bicycle Race
5. If You Can't Beat Them
6. Let Me Entertain You
7. Dead On Time
8. In Only Seven Days
9. Dreamers' Ball
10. Fun It
11. Leaving Home Ain't Easy
12. Don't Stop Me Now
13. More Of That Jazz                        

I still bought this album though, and had to admit that If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, the now totally iconic Don’t Stop Me Now (but at the time not really give much attention) and the beautiful Leaving Home Ain’t Easy got the old Queen fan juices flowing again, just don’t tell my punk mates.

Further listens gained a little respect for Let Me Entertain You and Dead On Time, but only a little.

In Only Seven Days is a pretty feeble John Deacon song about a teenage summer romance and Brian May's Dreamer's Ball almost sounds like a Mercury "whimsy" song. To think I bought The Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope and The Jam's All Mod Cons around the same time as this stuff probably sums it up.

The double 'A' side single contained two somewhat preposterous tracks - the nonsense that was Bicycle Race and the slightly better, rock romp of Fat Bottomed Girls. The latter track was always strangely mastered in that the beginning is really quiet and then the chorus is much louder. No amount of remastering changes this. Exactly the same problem occurs in the Arabic-chant influenced Mustapha. Quite what possessed Queen to record like this is unclear. We Are The Champions on the previous album was the same. Guess that was just how they wanted them to sound. For me, it doesn't work at all.


The Roger Taylor tracks are just that, Roger Taylor tracks. Indeed, More of That Jazz is an unlistenable waste of time. As for the rest of it, all these years later I still don't feel they have much to offer. Mercury's ballad Jealousy is ok. I suppose. Underwhelmed then and now. Sorry.