Sunday, 25 August 2019

Queen "Jazz" (1978)

Now embarking on their seventh full length, the eclectic music of Queen is starting to to sound more compartmentalized. No longer an organic tapestry that ebbs and flows from theatrical pantomime to hard guitar grooves and all in between, the group have split their styles and experiments into distinct songs that had me feeling like I had a bias to the ones I knew. The reality is Jazz has a mix of stinkers and classics among its thirteen tracks. Where time has dwindled out the mediocre, the classics have lived on which leads me to believe its no bias but an album of mixed fruits, some of which are rotten and many listens couldn't sweeten the taste for me.

The album kicks off with the stale and jarring Mustapha. It conjures Arabic dialect to foster a middle eastern atmosphere. Then its dense and swaying rock guitars rub up against the stark tone with contrasting vibes. Its production is drab in halves and the song rather dull. Bicycle Race and Fat Bottomed Girls are classics that need no introduction, the latter revives the arena rock anthem ideals of News Of The World's opening songs. If You Can't Beat Them seems contrived to reach the same anthemic chorus ideals but its execution is so underwhelming, it doesn't have any juice or pizzazz. Don't Stop Me Now is a beautiful eruption of piano led music, trusted forth by Freddie's unforgettable expressions. Similar ideas can be heard on the ballad Jealousy and In Only Seven Days but again, its a template now and they don't deliver.

Many Queen tropes are being recycled, even guitar tones too. Its a creatively stagnant point but their collective genius lands on occasions. Jazz does end on a creative high with More Of That Jazz, deploying slick metallic guitar licks that gel into atmospheric vocal layering. Its a delight, played on a loop with snippets of songs from earlier in the record, a cool way to bow the album out. If Ive sounded critical it may be that opening song setting the wrong tone for the following music. At this point I just think the band have bared their fruits and its obvious what they are attempting, so when it doesn't hit the mark it falls flat in comparison to the high standard they have created for themselves.

Favorite Tracks: Fat Bottomed Girls, Bicycle Race, Dead On Time, Don't Stop Me Now, More Of That Jazz
Rating: 6/10