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 Post subject: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 7:32 am 
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Released 1978
Produced by Queen/Roy Thomas Baker
Label: Hollywood Records (1991 reissue)

Personnel:
Freddie Mercury - vocals, piano, keyboards, etc.
Brian May - guitars, vocals, keyboards, etc.
John Deacon - bass, etc.
Roger Taylor - drums, vocals, guitar, etc.

Note the "etc.'s" after each members name. This was truly a band of freaking geniuses, and I don't think that can be overstated. This might not be the Queen album that first comes to mind of their '70s work, but I've always really enjoyed this particular collection of tunes. Jazz was, in many ways, the end of an era for Queen. From their 1973 debut through '75's A Night at the Opera, the group had an honourary fifth member in producer Roy Thomas Baker, who was just as insanely brilliant as the band. Then the band recorded two albums without Roy, using his studio engineer. A bloke named Mike Stone, who of course went on to become a successful producer in his own right. Then, for reasons I've yet to read, they decided to work with RTB one last time, and the results were stunning.

This was the last Queen album that rocked for over half of its duration. It was the last album that stuck to their strict "no synthesizers" rule. It was the last Queen studio album before Freddie cut his long rocker's mane of hair. Did that affect the music? Well I think it definitely reflected a change in attitude.

I had the pleasure of discovering the Queen back catalogue in my senior year of high school, 1992, yes the same year "Bohemian Rhapsody" became a hit again thanks to Wayne's World; also the year of the Freddie Mercury Concert For Life. North America was experiencing a bit of a Queen revival This also timed very nicely with my utter rejection of the grunge era. I went through what I call my classic rock renaissance, discovering Queen, Zeppelin, Kansas, Purple, Skynyrd, and countless other bands. But Queen were big for me, so much great music, so many different genres. Growing up in the 80s I had no idea how heavy some of Queen's 70's work was. Each album had a guaranteed three or four headbangers, as well as...well you never really knew 'til you listened!!

This album also gained notoriety for its inclusion of the infamous nude female bicycle race poster, which was lovingly recreated in CD form, albeit much smaller. I also dig the cool studio shot of the band at their instruments, surrounding by a beautiful mess of guitars and drums. But the music definitely stands up on its own...read on...

1. Mustapha - Ok, this opener is unlike anything Queen has ever done, and that's saying something. The song is in freakin' Arabic or something!! It clips along at a frenetic pace, and it will forever remind me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he finds Aladdin's lamp and is being chased by a sheik with a big-ass sword. I love how the guitar jumps in at you from nowhere. Not a song I'm guessing got much radio play, but a lot of fun to listen to.
2. Fat Bottomed Girls - Probably the most recognizable song from this album, on this side of the Atlantic anyway. Most of Queen's rockers were written by Brian May, and this one's a bawdy little ditty about a young man's experiences with a naughty babysitter. The chorus is a good example of those angelic Queen harmonies.
3. Jealousy - A jarring stylistic shift, this moody piano ballad is typical of Freddie Mercury's lyrics. His love songs always had a touch of sadness or uneasiness to them, as if he never truly found true love in his life. A shame really, but it provided us with some compelling music. I love the sitar-like acoustic guitar, which was probably plucked on piano strings or something crazy like that.
4. Bicycle Race - Never understood why this song was separated from "Fat Bottomed Girls," because they clearly were meant to be played together a la "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions," indeed the lyrics to each songs reference the other. This song always makes me smile with its clever wordplay (you say coke, I say caine), and it's fun to annoy people by cranking up the "bicycle bell" section in the middle.
5. If You Can't Beat Them - Quiet bassist John Deacon could always be counted on for contributing upbeat catchy songs for a Queen album. Some were big hits ("You're My Best Friend," "Another One Bites the Dust," "I Want to Break Free") and some were merely solid album cuts, like this anthemic rocker. Almost a Boston feel here musically and lyrically, a good song to start a grey, overcast morning off with.
6. Let Me Entertain You - Here we see the Freddie Mercury raison d'etre laid out in song, he (and Queen) only want to entertain you. And get laid. An attitude-laden shuffle with some of my favourite lyrics. Lynyrd Skynyrd may have sung about the "joys" of "Workin' For MCA," but Queen nicely cover their two (at the time) international record companies by promising, "with Elektra, and EMI, we'll show you where it's at." Also, apparently their tour manager was their drug connection. "If you need a fix, if you want a high, (Gerry) Stickells'll see to that." The song fades out with some practically unintelligible asides from presumably backstage groupies and hangers-on, making this song truly timeless. And oh yeah, the thing rocks.
7. Dead on Time - Speaking of songs that rock, the album's one true metallic moment occurs here, which at one time would have been referred to as the first song on side 2. Another May-penned rocker, this nervously twitching rocker starts and does not stop, thanks to a cool riff and the always underrated Roger Taylor's steady but frantic drumbeat. Ends with an enormous thunderclap (which probably explains the curious album credit 'Thunderbolt courtesy of God') and Freddie yelling "You're Dead!!"
8. In Only Seven Days - Taking a breather with this Deacon-penned mellow-70s tune. Basically a very classy paean to a week long one-night-stand.
9. Dreamers Ball - At first listen, I figured this playful, languid shuffle was a typical "Freddie" tune if you know what I mean, but then I discovered that Brian wrote it as a tribute to the then recently deceased Elvis Presley. Then I relistened and it does kind of play like a Queen version of "Heartbreak Hotel" or "Love Me." Complete with those unique Brian May guitar harmonies, here mixed with a bit of wah-wah, which kind of adds to the wobbly nature of the song, like the guys were half-cut when they recorded it.
10. Fun It - To those curious about Queen's back catalog, take note. Two years before "Another One Bites the Dust" stormed the disco and pop charts worldwide, we find the embryo of that song. Roger Taylor provided this one, as well as his trademark raspy vocals, save for Freddie taking the bridges of the song. It's a fun, funky little number. The odd title is summed up in the chorus, "don't shun it, fun it."
11. Leaving Home Ain't Easy - Brian May typically wrote two types of songs, heavy rockers and melancholy acoustic based songs, like this one. A clever play on words, "leaving home ain't easy on the ones you're leaving home." Not the liveliest of songs, but one of Queen's strengths was proper sequencing of their records. Usually by the time a number like this occurs you're in need of a breather.
12. Don't Stop Me Now - Plain and simple, this is a show tune. But it's a pretty fast-paced and upbeat one. This song is a good example of a Queen single that was a huge hit in much of the world, but missed the mark on these shores. Contains some of Freddie's most hilarious lyrics, like "two hundred degrees that's why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit."
13. More of That Jazz - The second tune on the album sung by Taylor, this moody, heavy stomper was reportedly a favourite song of Slash's. Roger hits some ridiculous high notes in this one (when you hear the highest notes in "Bohemian Rhapsody," that's Roger) and the song winds down with bits from some of the albums previous songs.

As I indicated, my CD is one of the 1991 Hollywood reissues, and it contains pointless remixes of "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Bicycle Race." Some of these CDs actually contained useful unreleased bonus tracks and B-sides, but not this one. As a late bloomer to Queen, most of my CDs are the reissues. Although I did manage to find an original U.S. Capitol version of The Works.

Keep in mind, none of Queen's albums rock from start to finish. But most of them contain great music. Most rock fans lean towards the 70's period, but all of their albums have gems on them, it's just that some of them you have to search a little harder. If you're merely interested in their heavier stuff, I recommend the 1997 compilaton Queen Rocks.

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 Post subject: Re: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 7:47 am 
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Awrsome review !
the last "great " Queen album IMO . Love everything except Fun It. :?

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 Post subject: Re: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 6:50 am 
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I still have the Stars and Stripes that mentioned Freddie's passing. It mentioned Eric Carr's passing as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 12:12 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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Another excellent review, Tim! You're really on a roll lately, bro. :tup

This is one of Queen's early albums that I've never bothered to pick up on CD, but I really need to at some point. Some real closet gems on this one. I always really liked Let Me Entertain You, particularly the version found on "Live Killers"... one of the best live albums ever made, IMO.


Canuck wrote:
Mustapha - Ok, this opener is unlike anything Queen has ever done, and that's saying something. The song is in freakin' Arabic or something!!


Some semi-useless trivia about Freddie which you guys may or may not be aware of:

Freddie was born in Zanzibar (real name: Farrokh Bulsara)... He was raised there and in the Parsi region of western India (an area where most Persian Zoroastrians, known as Parsis, emigrated to to escape religious persecution in the 10th century when the Muslim faith rose to prominence in Iran). He was sent to a boys' school near Mumbai (Bombay) in his early teens and formed his first band there. His family eventually fled Zanzibar in '64 due to political unrest and moved to Britain. He went to college in London and earned a degree in Graphic Design... He actually designed Queen's original logo.

Among his early influences was Indian music, which explains his penchant for exotic-sounding (at least to Westerners) song structures and lyrics. My understanding is that he was fluent in several languages, including Parsi.


:BB Mustapha

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"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
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 Post subject: Re: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 12:25 pm 
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Then he would have enjoyed your 'goofdegoo.' :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 1:49 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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bildo wrote:
Then he would have enjoyed your 'goofdegoo.' :wink:


What did you call me? :rant2:

_________________
"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject: Re: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 1:55 pm 
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RockHard wrote:
bildo wrote:
Then he would have enjoyed your 'goofdegoo.' :wink:


What did you call me? :rant2:


It's about the only Parsi/Farsi I know. Goofdegoo means discussion or conversation. I gave one of our directors an instant migraine one day before the show when I asked him what if we did a Persian show that talked about Disney characters. Would it be a Goofy goofdegoo, a goof de Goofy goo, or a goofdegoo Goofy? :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Queen - Jazz
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 2:38 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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bildo wrote:
RockHard wrote:
bildo wrote:
Then he would have enjoyed your 'goofdegoo.' :wink:


What did you call me? :rant2:


It's about the only Parsi/Farsi I know. Goofdegoo means discussion or conversation. I gave one of our directors an instant migraine one day before the show when I asked him what if we did a Persian show that talked about Disney characters. Would it be a Goofy goofdegoo, a goof de Goofy goo, or a goofdegoo Goofy? :lol:


At least it wouldn't be a goony-goo-goo... :lol:


:BB Eddie Murphy

_________________
"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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