19: Jazz (Queen)

Album: Jazz
Artist: Queen
Year: 1978

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. Dreamer’s Ball
10. Fun It
11. Leaving Home Ain’t Easy
12. Don’t Stop Me Now
13. More of That Jazz

I’ve never been a huge fan of Queen as stadium rock has never been my thing, though I do enjoy many of their singles. For some reason, this album hits the right notes for me despite only have a couple of songs I’m crazy about. Crazy thing is Freddie Mercury wrote five of the thirteen songs and those are easily my five favorite.

Mustapha opens things, and while it’s completely nonsensical, utilizing several languages and some made up words, it has great energy and is a great lead-in.  Jealousy is a decent ballad made better by the buzzing guitar work. Bicycle Race is silly but has some pretty impressive changes in meter and chords.  Let Me Entertain You is a simple rocker but a great sing-a-long. And finally, Don’t Stop Me Now is transcendent. It’s been ranked the number one driving song and I can’t disagree. Mercury’s writing, rhyme scheme, piano playing, and harmonizing with his band mates is just insane. It was also wonderfully introduced to a new audience in the famous zombie killing bar scene in Shaun of the Dead.

As for the rest of the album, I can sing along to Fat Bottomed Girls but only so often. I also enjoy If You Can’t Beat Them and Dreamer’s Ball. More of That Jazz is an odd choice to end the album considering Don’t Stop Me Now would have been a great closer. The final song acts as a summary of everything we’ve just heard, much like old musicals would often have during the credits.  It’s actually pretty good for what it is, but I can’t imagine every listening to it outside the context of the album.

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2 thoughts on “19: Jazz (Queen)

  1. Now you’re talking! Queen is my group, and this is certainly one of their best albums. Roger Taylor’s Fun It and More of That Jazz, are ignorable, but the rest is truly solid. Brian May’s Leaving Home Ain’t Easy is a prefect post-breakup song, and Dead On Time is a wonderful anti-rat race anthem. In Only Seven Days is a bitter-sweet romance, Jealousy is heavy, and Dreamer’s Ball is flighty.

    I should point out that Queen was only area rock in the late 70s. There were still a couple arena rock songs outside of that era, but their earliest work was more prog rock/glam, their early 80s has a more dance rock/jazzy sound, and they changed sound again for the late 80s-early 90s with Miracle and Innuendo. They probably would have continued to cross genres and evolve if they had continued. Makes me a bit misty-eyed to think about what might have been, but then we wouldn’t have songs like “These Are the Days of Our Lives” and “The Show Must Go On”.

  2. Don’t Stop Me Now is one of my top five favorite songs, probably. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Josh Mitchell is the best singer I’ve ever known, and he sings that song and Fat-Bottomed Girls for karaoke and whips the crowd into a frenzy. I need to get back to Minnesota solely to see that again (and do the Shaggy duets with him, which would always end the nights because the girl running karaoke would insist upon it).

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