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The end of an era,
This review is from: Jazz (Audio CD)
Queen’s 7th studio album really is the end of an era, being the last album of the 70’s, and the last album before the arrival of new producer Mack, synthesizers, drum machines, Freddie’s moustache and other horrors of the 1980’s. As usual with Queen’s golden period 1970’s output there’s a huge amount of genre-hopping on display (though oddly enough no actual jazz), great musicianship and massive layering of vocals and instruments on the production. The only slight downside here is the mix which is far too aggressive with the volume, and by trying to give the guitars huge impact at certain points certain moments are unnaturally quiet in the mix e.g.: the opening of ‘Let Me Entertain You’, or ‘Mustapha’ – if you’re not aware of this and have your volume set at what appears to be a correct volume you may well blow your speakers when the guitar kicks in after a couple of minutes!
After a surprisingly subdued showing on ‘News of the World’ Freddie returns to songwriting dominance on this album, with the ridiculously up-beat ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and the ridiculous yet infectious ‘Bicycle Race’. ‘Let Me Entertain You’ is more of a straight-forward rocker, and obviously best intended for a live audience, but the real hidden gem here is the ballad ‘Jealousy’, which must have been a strong contender for a single release. The oddest track on the album meanwhile is the opener ‘Mustapha’, as Freddie starts with what sounds like a Middle Eastern call to prayer and the song ends up as a bizarre but heavy rock track.
Brian’s songs are uniformly strong, with the gorgeously sleazy ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ possibly topped by the frantic high-speed rocker ‘Dead On Time’. ‘Dreamer’s Ball’ is one of Queen’s tongue in cheek old-fashioned musical pastiche’s, while ‘Leaving Home Ain’t Easy’ (which Brian also provides lead vocals for) is a heartrending song that must rank amongst Brian’s best tunes.
John Deacon provides a top quality pair of tracks with the brief but gorgeous holiday romance song ‘In Only Seven Days’ and the less expected rock of ‘If You Can’t Beat Them’.
Sadly Roger Taylor provides what is the closest this album has to a weak track with the disco song (anticipating the 80’s) ‘Fun It’ – the main guitar riff is actually very good but the lyrics are so gormless (“Just shaking the soles of your feet…”) that it’s difficult to take it seriously. Thankfully Roger comes good with the album closer ‘More Of That Jazz’, a moody track dominated by an addictive guitar line.
‘Jazz’ may not be quite up to the level of ‘A Night At The Opera’ but it is certainly up there with the rest of Queen’s top ‘70’s albums, and for some bizarre reason is often overlooked. Queen would make some good albums in the 80’s, but ‘Jazz’ is the last GREAT one.