Released on 10th November 1978
Recorded between July and October 1978 at Mountain (Montreux) and Super Bear (Nice)
Produced by Queen & Roy Thomas Baker
Engineered by Geoff Workman & John Etchells
Music, Lyrics & Arrangements by Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon & Roger Taylor
Freddie Mercury: Vocals, Piano
John Deacon: Bass, Guitar
Roger Taylor: Percussion, Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Brian May: Guitar, Vocals
Last album with Roy Thomas Baker
First album using synthesisers (although not keyboard synthesisers)
First album closed by a song from Roger
This album is one of the most underrated by the band, but still a masterpiece and a quite eclectic project. 'Twas the first one to be recorded outside the UK, more precisely in France and Switzerland, and the last one with producer Roy Thomas Baker. 'Jazz' is closer to earlier efforts than 'News' in some matters such as the progressive feel of Bicycle Race, the classical-influeced ballad Jealousy, Mercury's dominance as songwriter, more piano and much more overdubs in both vocals (e.g. Jealousy) and guitars (e.g. Dreamer's Ball).
Four songs in the album (three of them on the second side) feature acoustic guitars prominently, which is more than 'News' (2), 'Races' (2) and 'Opera' (3); 'Sheer Heart Attack' also has four songs with acoustic guitars, but in half of the cases being more in the background. This album's achievement is only out done by the first two albums, which have six and five tracks with acoustic, respectively, and 'The Game', which would have five.
'Jazz' features several anomalies in both creativity and performance. Let's check them out song by song:
- Mustapha: Nearly a half of it (or perhaps even more!) is mixed in mono. Frequent use of Hijaz mode and Roger plays some hawkbells besides drums. Note the bombastic "pha" in the last chorus: a brill multi-tracked wall of voices just like in the old days.
- Fat Bottomed Girls: Brian makes a mistake on the guitar, causing a strange dissonance. Note that for the first two choruses only Brian is doing the lead vocal, while Freddie's making harmonies, so it's actually a duet. Live, Fred sang it all.
- Jealousy: There are some mistakes by John on bass. No electric guitars, but instead Brian doing some buzzy acoustic overdubs (shades of the first two albums of the band). Excellent use of multi-tracking by Freddie on vocals.
- Bicycle Race: Probably the most "progressive" three-minute pop hit ever. There must be at least 20 to 30 voices in some parts! Nice programmatic section of a guitar race, and mainly scalar (relatively unusual for this band).
- If You Can't Beat Them: One of the few cases of Queen songs having tape-phasing (another is Killer Queen).
- Let Me Entertain You: Uncredited guest voices by people from band and crew at the end. Freddie's last heavy song for many years.
- Dead On Time: One of the most difficult drumming parts Roger ever recorded. References to Keep Yourself Alive both musically and lyrically.
- In Only Seven Days: Quite a jazzy track in some aspects. Very similar to Spread Your Wings in a number of subtle details.
- Dreamer's Ball: More blues than jazz, but hardly generic. A guitar-band is scored for the first time since Good Company albeit in a much simpler way.
- Fun It: This one's actually got a synth-drum (not to be confused with drum-machine). No wonder why the "no synths" label was conveniently dropped here... There are e-drums and acoustic drums as well.
- Leaving Home Ain't Easy: Varispeed is used for the "lady's part". Most speed-ups were in Brian's songs: Keep Yourself Alive, '39, Son And Daughter.
- Don't Stop Me Now: Closer to Fred's older songs (e.g. Seaside Rendezvous, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy) than to his 'News' or 'Game' numbers.
- More Of That Jazz: Rare use of maracas. Track heavily based on loops, a trend they'd continue for 'The Game' and 'Hot Space', particularly in Roger's numbers.