Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Lester's Album Discussion Thread - Jazz

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Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 Dec 05, 17:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Seeing as how the two most recent threads (ADATR and NOTW) have had some kind of a resurrection recently, I'll forge ahead with the next album: Jazz.

Read these and be enlightened:


1. If you don't own the album, do not contribute. I want this to be a discussion, and posts by somebody saying only "I like 'Keep Yourself Alive' on Classic Queen, is that on this album?" or something to that nature contributes nothing to the discussion.

2. As most people have been quick to jump down the throats of foreign posters about their English, I can only ask that those not familiar with the language do their best. For those who speak English as their first language, there really is no excuse. Try to formulate your thoughts so that everyone can enjoy them. No speaking in tongues, please.

3. You don't need to like the album - these aren't appreciation threads, these are discussion threads. If you don't like the album, don't be afraid to say so! Everyone should be responsive to constructive criticism, so if the album isn't one of your favorites, explain why in a decent manner instead of just saying, "This album sucks because of X song."

3a. Disagreements are encouraged. Well, okay... not exactly encouraged, but don't be afraid to disagree with someone as long as you disagree in a dignified manner.

BAD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "WHAT?! 'THE KISS' IS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST SONG RELEASED BY QUEEN! YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT, YOU JACKASS! ANYONE WHO LIKES 'THE KISS' LIKES BOILS ON THEIR FACE AND BEING TORTURED BY TOADS BITING THEIR FINGERNAILS! A POX ON YOUR FAMILY AND ANYTHING YOU SHOULD SPAWN, YOU HEATHEN!"
Poster A: "..."

GOOD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "It's not that great, in my opinion, but what do you like about it?"
Poster A: "I like the segue from 'Execution Of Flash' and the orchestration. Freddie's vocalisations are just great."
Poster B: "Hmm. That's exactly what I don't like about it."

*Posters A and B share a beer and become best friends*

4. NO NUMERICAL RATINGS, PLEASE!!! Discussion threads do not equal giving something a grade. If this was called "Let's rate the albums", that would be different, but I want people to discuss the albums. There's no point in listing your favorite songs without giving some kind of insight.

5. These will be posted whenever I damn well please. I know I initially said every two weeks, but sometimes inspiration strikes and you gotta post, man. Or sometimes I get so damn busy, I'll just forget about it and all that.

6. For other discussion threads, check out:
Queen (first album): http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=569759
Queen II: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=587802
Brian May's solo albums: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=575007
Sheer Heart Attack: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=648592
A Day At The Races: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=670647
News Of The World: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=684170


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Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 28 Dec 05, 18:03 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

In my eyes, Jazz is the album where Queen truly faltered. News Of The World was a great album, and it did have its flaws ('Get Down Make Love'), but as a cohesive listening experience, it was something new. Unfortunately, Jazz is a misstep, and it seems to be either one of those albums that you either love or hate. Well, for me, it's neither - it falls uncomfortably somewhere in between.

There are some great songs on here, with my own personal highlights being 'Let Me Entertain You', 'Dead On Time', 'Leaving Home Ain't Easy', and 'Don't Stop Me Now'. These are the finest examples of where Queen SHOULD have gone with this album: toward a more rockier approach, with one eye on the future and the other looking at their past. Instead, they threw us all for a loop and did some weird things.

'Fun It', basically, is not a good song. Sorry, but the only redeeming thing about it is Brian's solo, and even that can't salvage it. 'More Of That Jazz' is just a boring, repetitive track that sounds like Roger recorded it all himself (this is very likely, actually; there are no distinctive guitar parts from Brian, the bass is too distorted to be John, and all the vocals sound as if they're Roger's and no one else's) in one afternoon, and the results are uninspired. This may be the first time that Roger contributed less-than-stellar songs. Where are the days of 'Drowse' and 'Tenement Funster'?!

John's songs are underrated and really good, but certainly not classic: 'If You Can't Beat Them' is a great rock song, but sounds better live with Freddie's piano, while 'In Only Seven Days' is an attempt to rewrite 'Spread Your Wings', and comes across fairly successfully. The only bad thing about that song is that it's too short. The aforementioned Brian songs are great, and 'Dreamers Ball' would really take off in the live setting, as would 'Fat Bottomed Girls' (though I agree with Brian that 'FBG' is a fairly banal song, and that 'Dead On Time' deserves more recognition).

Freddie seems to be the main offender here. While 'Jealousy' and his other two songs mentioned are really, really good, I just can't get over 'Mustapha' and 'Bicycle Race'. Quite how 'Bicycle Race' became a Top 20 UK single is beyond me...

Overall, the album is patchy, but it could have been saved with better programming. If you reconfigure it like this:

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

(kicking off 'More Of That Jazz' and 'Mustapha' - sorry!) you have a far better album that just seems to flow better. Although, if we could add 'Coming Soon' instead (while not the best track in the world, it does suit the sound better than The Game), then things are starting to look up. As it stands, Jazz is the first blight on an otherwise spotless discography.

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Posted: 28 Dec 05, 19:16 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

First i must say that i always enjoy these Lester so thank you.

Jazz to me was a bridge between old and new Queen.You can here them dabbling in funk for the first time and you start to see songs being stripped down a bit.I like Jazz for its variety.Mustapha is a decent song,but a mistake as the opening track no doubt.I dont think it has anymore throw away songs then any other record as some people seem to think it does.Lester makes a good point that BR as the single is odd-but what other song would you use?I think Jealousy with a bit more fine tuning would have been a smash hit but this version seems rushed and mixed poorly.i give Jazz a 7 of 10.I think Dead on time is a all time great Queen song.


john pistlli
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Posted: 28 Dec 05, 20:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

stateside fan wrote:

First i must say that i always enjoy these Lester so thank you.


My pleasure!


Lester makes a good point that BR as the single is odd-but what other song would you use?I think Jealousy with a bit more fine tuning would have been a smash hit but this version seems rushed and mixed poorly.i give Jazz a 7 of 10.I think Dead on time is a all time great Queen song.


If I had my druthers, I probably would have had 'Don't Stop Me Now' as the lead-off single (considering it did better as the second single than the first single, this isn't altogether unreasonable), but I can't decide if I would have 'Let Me Entertain You', 'If You Can't Beat Them', or 'Dead On Time' as the next single.

'Jealousy' was tried as a single in the US but failed miserably, so I'm not sure how else it would have done if released in the UK. I guess Elektra didn't really promote it, and, considering the time when it was released (April 1979), that Queen hadn't toured America since the end of 1978, it's no wonder it failed.

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Posted: 28 Dec 05, 21:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree with you lester. You either love this album or you hate it. I personally hate it. When I say that I mean that it's my second least favorite studio album slightly in front of A Kind Of Magic (not counting Flash Gordon as an actual album). There are some great songs on it as you mentioned - Don't Stop Me Now, Jealousy, Let Me Entertain You, Dead On Time, Dreamer's Ball, and Fat Bottomed Girls. Although I do like Bicycle Race personally but agree that it shouldn't have been that big a hit. In Only Seven Days definitely should be longer. More Of That Jazz and Mustapha could be left off. Mustapha is the definite low point but the good songs make up for it. Nice post Lester!


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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 02:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Wrong order of the songs! And this album contains probably the least known Queen track ever - In Only Seven Days.

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 03:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I personally think Jazz is better than NOTW. But that's only my opinion. I agree that MOTJ is a very weak Roger track, though. And I certainly agree with Brian as far as FBG and DOT.

This is pretty much the last Queen album to have little instrumental quirks, isn't it? From here on out, every Queen album seems to be laid flat out (all I seem to get through the headphones post-Jazz is heavier bass). My only real complaint is the tracklist. It's like the producers were saying "who gives a damn about the flow? We need this stuff recorded NOW!"

Though Mustapha is 80% gibberish, I still find it to be catchy. Certainly not a masterpiece, but very fun - especially live. Maybe that's it. Maybe this is an album specifically for stage performance?

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 04:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I still find it utterly amazing that people can write-off Mustapha and Bicycle Race, even going so far as to say that they shouldn't be on Jazz!

Both these songs perfectly embody and epitomise what Queen (and in particular Freddie) were all about, and to dismiss them as sub-standard or weak is to completely miss and misunderstand what made Queen and Freddie so brilliant.


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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 05:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I totally agree with you. Mustapha is one of my all time favourite Queen songs. In Germany it was a huge hit because it's so funny. When you play Jazz for the first time, you have this "wtf" moment that always made it so special to listen to Queen albums. Mustapha HAD to be the first track. Bicycle Race has this playful feeling that most of Freddie's songs have. Other highlights are Dead On Time, Don't Stop Me Now, Dreamer's Ball, Let Me Entertain You, Fun It..

I should listen to Jazz again.


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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 06:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I guess I'm one of the few people who actually like More Of That Jazz then?! I love the beat, great little riff, good vocals. It is only let down by the stupid montage of songs.

Kinda like Get Down Make Love... you either love it or hate it (sums up the Jazz album I guess).

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 06:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm not going to do a track by track analysis of this one, as it's certainly not my favourite Queen album. As I have said before on here about Jazz, the main problem is the production, particularly Roger's drum sound, which is just.... shit. Totally agree about Fun It and MOTJ being a waste of vinyl, but I have to say, Mustapha has it's merits, if only in the dynamics of 'light' and 'heavy'. On first play, I remember thinking how powerful it sounded when the band kicked in.

Not sure I agree with your track order, Lester, as that would make Fun It or Dreamer's, the opening to Side 2, which wouldn't have been right. I would probably have gone with this:-

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

I would also have released FBG as the first single, but had Mustapha as the B side, instead of putting it on the album, and perhaps used MOTJ as the B side for DSMN. I always thought it was disappointing that Queen never put out exclusive B sides in those days.

Overall, if the album had sounded more like NOTW, I think it would have been better received. I haven't played the whole of Jazz for probably 20 years, but NOTW, ADATR, and ANATO are all still regularly played, nearly 30 years after buying them!


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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 07:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No-one yet has mentioned how Dead On Time should have been a single? And how it should have been played live? Everything about this song is great...the riff, the tempo, Brian's guitar in conjunction with Roger's drumming just before the closing bit.

I agree with the general consensus about Mustapha and More Of That Jazz, same for Fun It. It sounds like the forerunner to Another One Bites The Dust, but unlike "Dust", it becomes boring very, very quickly in my opinion.

I've always felt Jazz is a case of "let's chuck everything in and see what happens", the flow of the first 5 albums has gone and there's little cohesion in the tracklisting. Jealousy, In Only Seven Days and Dreamers Ball should have ran back-to-back.

The hits are great, but as for the rest...4 are great (Jealousy, If You Can't Beat Them, Let Me Entertain You and Dead On Time), 4 are awful (Mustapha, Fun It, Leaving Home Ain't Easy and More Of That Jazz). In Only Seven Days is an underrated song, but unfortunately is too short and could have done with a longer solo. Dreamers Ball takes on a new life when played live...like '39 on ANATO it is one of Brian's experimental tunes and comes across very well, both here and live.

If I could change one thing to the songs listed on Jazz, it would be the ending to Let Me Entertain You. As an opener it should have had a live ending, but as track 6 does not stand out and already having had rocking tunes Fat Bottomed Girls and If You Can't Beat Them before it, the chatter at the end in some ways makes it a poor relation.

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 08:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's my belief that Jazz is an under-rated and under-appreciated album. Yes, perhaps it falls when comparted to Sheer Heart Attack or A Night At The Opera but it for me it is superior to every one of their eighties album apart from The Miracle amybe. For me it is a great, eccentric mixture of styles that works well into an exciting and great-sounding Queen album, probably the best-sounding one they did.

Mustapha- A curious start but one which I love. Everything from those heavy guitar stabs, the semi-operatic chanting, frenzied piano playing and exotic percussion too. The different elements fit together so easily and it displays great creatvity. Queen never did songs like thes ein the eighties- it was a great shame.

Fat Bottomed Girls- When I criticise albums like The Game, it is because they lack songs like these- hard rock tracks, clean of any bad synths etc. that get in the way. This is crude, granted but when it takers off it ther eis no looking back. A snarling, blues-metal riff, tribal-sounding drums and a very fat bass over which Freddie sneers. What a chorus too, so powerful.

Jealousy- Superb ballad. With a guitar that succesfully re-creates a sitar and a nice lounge jazz drum arrangment, Freddie gives an impassioned delivery over his piano tinkling. Meaningful lyrics too -very melancholic. Notice some subtle multi-tracked harmonies too.

Bicycle Race- delightfully eccentric. An epic at just 3 minutes it shows that Freddie no longer needed 6 and a half minutes (like on Liar) to fit his ideas together because the transitions are so smooth. Love the stacked vocals again and good vocal sparring between Fred and Roger on "you say black I say white" etc. Seamless changes in pace throughout.

If You Can't Beat Them- Not bad. it's a fairly hard rock song with a nice distorted guitar solo, but it's not quite visceral enough for me.

Let Me Entertain You- A super live track built for the stage. Has a real energy to it that is there throughout the album. Witty lyrics with some aggressive guitar work and a fittingly daring ending. The drum sound could be improved though.

Dead On Time- Speed-metal in the shape of Stone Cold crazy. Why Queen never performed this live is a real mystery to me because it is made for performance. Chugging guitar work reminiscent of Keep Yourself ALive which the song actually namechecks. Great thunder orchestration too.

In only Seven Days-Not a lot to say. Some good guitar orchestration and has a pleasant mid-tempo feel to it. It's quaint enough I suppose.

Dreamer's Ball-It would be Queen's last flirtation with jazz and it is a sucessful one. This is lounge jazz, a lot less showy than Seaside Rendezvous etc. but equally as pleasant. Good electric guitar work and lovely harmonies on the chorus.

Fun It- A solid disco foray that pre-empts The Game and Hot Space. Roger Taylor manages very well sharing vocals with Freddie who sounds like he's enjoying himself. The lyrics aren't much but it's only about having a good time. I like it anyway.

Leaving Home Ain't Easy-Oh dear another bland Brian may folk song. At least it's better than She Makes me and Long Away but '39 remains the only folk one I rea;;y like. Bland vocals, a deep lyric as always from Brian but it's very listless.

Don't Stop me Now- I love this track but I feel the Live Killers version is even better because there is guitar on the verses giving it some much-needed bottom end. Great energy and strong vocal performance and Fred's boogie woogie piano is good too.

More Of That Jazz-SLightly insane yes but Ilove the husky delivery and som eof those guitar effects are spectacualr.


hj
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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 11:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Interesting thread. As a photographer I am well aware of the difficulties involved in trying to please everyone all of the time. Impossible. One person may love a print, another hate it. Same with music as we see here. I guess musicians for the most part do not cater to an audience but record what they feel is good at the time. With Jazz I think they largely failed when compared to other Queen albums, but there is a lot to like here. Don't stop me now has always been in my top 5 Queen songs, and Fat BG is always fun to play loud.
I get the feeling that at the time the album was recorded, certain riffs may have sounded really good and generated a lot of excitement, and so a song is built around it. The song may not work but the riff still sounds good, and that is the impression, or feeling if you like, that I get when listening to the album.
Hope this makes sense, and I am not being critical of Queen. I am sure this happens with all musicians.
One of the bands strengths has always been their disregard for conformity. Songs do not need to follow any direction on a particular album, but this can also set up for failure. Rogers songs I think are not strong, and dreamers ball is just, well, lets say weak. Not terrible, but they bog down and draw attention away from several good tracks. Perhaps they should have waited a while longer and recorded a few better songs instead. In my opinion.
But hindsight is 20/20. I am over 50 years old and see things a little differently. When this album came out I played it a LOT, and it,s only after much listening to the Queen calalog as a whole that I have the opinion that I do.
Just my two cents worth.

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 12:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Bohardy wrote:

I still find it utterly amazing that people can write-off Mustapha and Bicycle Race, even going so far as to say that they shouldn't be on Jazz!

Both these songs perfectly embody and epitomise what Queen (and in particular Freddie) were all about, and to dismiss them as sub-standard or weak is to completely miss and misunderstand what made Queen and Freddie so brilliant.


I can see where you're coming from, and I understand the appeal of both of those songs: silly, lightweight, and humorous. I also realize that 'Bicycle Race' is extremely complicated, even though it sounds like a throwaway ditty, and, as strange as 'Mustapha' is, it does rock pretty well. But, I guess I just don't like either of them - not as much as I dislike 'Fun It' or 'More Of That Jazz', but 'Mustapha' and 'Bicycle Race' aren't my cup of tea.


Lord Fickle wrote:

As I have said before on here about Jazz, the main problem is the production, particularly Roger's drum sound, which is just.... shit. Totally agree about Fun It and MOTJ being a waste of vinyl, but I have to say, Mustapha has it's merits, if only in the dynamics of 'light' and 'heavy'. On first play, I remember thinking how powerful it sounded when the band kicked in.


That's a good point about the band kicking in, it really does sound very powerful. Y'know, this might be one of those songs that I'll need to listen to again...

Although I did completely forget to mention the production side of it all. You're right, it does sound shit, especially the drums. Whereas on the first six albums, the drums sound powerful and overwhelming, now they sound tinny. It's really disappointing.


Not sure I agree with your track order, Lester, as that would make Fun It or Dreamer's, the opening to Side 2, which wouldn't have been right.


I think 'Dreamers Ball' is not an entirely bad choice as a side two opener (certainly, 'Fun It' isn't, but works well as a closer to side one), but 'If You Can't Beat Them' may be a better choice. I just think the guitar introduction on 'Dreamers' is a good way to start the second side.

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Posted: 29 Dec 05, 13:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Lester Burnham wrote:

I think 'Dreamers Ball' is not an entirely bad choice as a side two opener (certainly, 'Fun It' isn't, but works well as a closer to side one), but 'If You Can't Beat Them' may be a better choice. I just think the guitar introduction on 'Dreamers' is a good way to start the second side.


I agree, it's not a bad track at all, in fact, I love the guitar work in it, but traditionally, side 2's had always started with a fairly 'big' track:-

Liar
Ogre Battle
Lap Of The Gods
Prophet's Song
Somebody To Love
Get Down Make Love (might be crap but it's still 'big')
Dead On Time

Now, Queen were never afraid to break from tradition, but I do think that a 'big' opening to side 2 works well on any rock album, a bit like the first song after an interval in a live set. That's my only reason for not choosing Dreamer's.

To offer an answer as to why DOT was never played live, I seem to recall someone once said that it was too bloody fast, and Freddie couldn't sing it!


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Posted: 30 Dec 05, 11:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I always thought Get Down Make Love ended side one, and Sleeping On The Sidewalk opened side two? Or is that just the cassette version?

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Posted: 30 Dec 05, 18:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Must have been the cassette version. GDML definitely opens side 2 of NOTW.


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Posted: 31 Dec 05, 01:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

jazz is probably queens weakest seventies album, but I still love this album. In my opinion "mustapha" is great, one of my all time favorites. The only songs I don't like are "Fun it" and "More of that jazz" the rest is great.