By Greg Brooks and Gary Taylor Queen
Queen’s seventh studio album was the first to be recorded outside the UK. Sessions began at Mountain Studios in Switzerland, in July 1978, and later moved to Super Bear studios in Nice, France, concluding in October.
Though producer Roy Thomas Baker had been absent on the previous two LPs (A Day At The Races and News Of The World), both of which the band produced themselves (with trusted collaborator Mike Stone), Jazz saw the team reunited for this project - though it would prove to be the last Queen/Baker production. Geoff Workman and John Etchells were the engineers.
Once again the finished album was very different to anything to have come before. The change of scenery in terms of recording studios gave rise to a fresh exuberant sounding album and a greatly diverse range of songs – 13 songs no less! This period saw the emergence of several tracks that would go on to become not only significant international hits, but great favourites among the fans, and staples of the Queen live show for the remainder of the 1970s and well into the 80s.
Jazz was released in the UK on 10th November 1978 and four days later in America. The album reached No 2 in the charts and achieved Gold sales status. In the U.S. it attained Platinum status and peaked at No 6 in the charts. Jazz was a major success around the world, reaching No 1 in Portugal, No 4 in Holland and No 5 in Germany and Japan.
The unusual front/back cover concept was suggested by Roger Taylor, who had seen a similar design painted on the Berlin Wall some months earlier. The finished cover raised more than a few eyebrows at the time, as it was a significant departure from previous Queen albums and seemed to have little or no relevance to the album’s title. The inside gatefold illustration was that of a wide-angle photograph of the band taken at the Montreux recording studios during the sessions by the band’s roadie Peter ‘Ratty’ Hince, while the inner sleeve photograph was instead taken at Super Bear in France studios by Chris Hopper.
As if all of this were not confusing enough, the band went a step further by also including a large poster inside the album; featuring a bevy of beautiful naked girls (models recruited from various agencies) on bicycles riding around Wimbledon Stadium in London in their very own ‘bicycle race’ with a difference! The event had been staged with the promotion of both the album and Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls single (released a month earlier) in mind. The poster, like the Bicycle Race promo video would prove to be controversial in many territories around the world, leading to accusations of sexism and blatant exploitation.
Photographs from the second most famous bicycle race in the world were used by the press and featured in daily newspapers and music publications of the time, but the poster was deemed to risqué for the American public and instead of issuing it with the LP, Elektra Records avoided causing offence to retailers by instead included a coupon with which people could apply for their free poster. Further caution was necessary for the Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls single picture sleeves too, not just in the U.S, but in all territories. The naked girl on the bicycle on all sleeves suddenly sported painted on pink underwear, even though she was cycling away from the camera. Elektra in American even went a stage further by adding a bra!
As with previous albums, Jazz offered a greatly varied selection of songs and styles, reflecting a frenetic period in the band’s song writing. On the previous album News Of The World, Queen had returned to a ‘back to basics’ feel, but for this, in new surroundings and with the assistance of Roy Thomas Baker, they experimented again and explored an even greater variation of musical avenues and tangents, as they had on the earliest albums.
Jazz begins with Freddie’s enigmatic Mustapha, an Arabic influenced song with mysterious lyrics and driving beat. Little is documented about this song, but even so it is the perfect track to kick off one of Queen’s longest albums.
The album version of Fat Bottomed Girls comes next, with extra guitar and a longer ending to the more familiar single version. Written by Brian and influenced by the various groupies and girls who hang around bands looking for more than an autograph (!!!), this was an obvious choice to feature in the Queen live show of the time, and so popular was it around the world that it would keep its place in the set for nearly every show the band performed into the early eighties. Always a popular song on radio and in concert, and widely covered too, over the years.
The second of Freddie’s songs on Jazz, is the simple and very lovely Jealousy, featuring its author on piano and Brian playing Indian sitar sounds on an acoustic guitar. As the title suggests, this piano-led love song tells of the pain of jealousy in a relationship and features another faultless and evocative vocal from Freddie.
During the recording of the album, while the band were in Super Bear studios, the Tour De France bicycle race passed through Nice, and Freddie was inspired to write Bicycle Race. Incorporating bicycle bells and typical Mercury tongue-in-cheek lyrics, this is probably the most complex song on the album; so much so that when it was performed live, only a segment would feature during the medley section.
If You Can’t Beat Them is probably the heaviest song ever written by John Deacon, and is far removed from his most famous compositions Another One Bites The Dust and I Want To Break Free. Along with John’s other track for this LP, In Only Seven Days, and the two written by Roger, Queen again proved that all four band members were capable of writing songs in all styles of music - and hit songs at that. If You Can’t Beat Them would feature in the live set when the band took to the road again at the end of October 1978.
Let Me Entertain You closes the first side of the original LP, and is a guitar driven song aimed directly at the concert audience. Freddie’s ingenious lyric makes this a highlight of the album on many levels, and ensured that it became a great favourite with fans when played live, as it was for many years thereafter.
Another heavy song, which strangely never made it into the live set of the time, is Brian’s turbulent Dead On Time. Fuelled by a vocal from Freddie as pure and aggressive as the wall of guitars and ferocious drumming behind it, this astonishing and often overlooked composition leaves the listener almost breathless in its wake, and climaxes with, all things, tumultuous rain and thunder. While recording Jazz, in Montreux, a violent thunderstorm cut off power to the town, and the studio. During the enforced break Brian went outside with a portable tape machine to record the thunderclaps, hence the note in the album credits declaring, ‘Thunderbolt courtesy of God!’ It is one many subtle touches that makes this album so very strong and indeed much loved among fans over thirty years after its release.
John’s second song for Jazz, In Only Seven Days, is another ballad much more typical of its writer than If You Can’t Beat Them. Telling the story of a holiday romance spanning one eventful week, this charming song features Freddie on piano and finds the author playing acoustic guitar as well as bass. Though it never appeared in any Queen concert, it was chosen as the B-side to Jazz’s second UK single, Don’t Stop Me Now, in January 1979.
Dreamer’s Ball, a seemingly unlikely composition, unless you’re familiar with Queen’s previous albums, is an acoustic New Orleans flavoured music hall swing number from Brian. Again, Freddie brings a lovely feel to this track with a delicate vocal, and with equally sensitive backing from John and Roger, the poignant words make this a memorable recording.
Roger’s first contribution to Jazz is the disco/funk flavoured Fun It. It was the first time Queen delved into this particular genre of music, but, of course, not the last. The song features both Roger and Freddie singing lead vocals, and, another first, the use of electronic drums.
Leaving Home Ain’t Easy, written and sung by Brian, is a further ballad, and a greatly moving one at that. Featuring acoustic guitar, this elegant recital could not be more at odds with the two songs that precede and follow it on the album.
Probably the most popular and recognisable song on the album – aside from the bicycle racing large-bottomed ladies - is the penultimate track, Freddie’s Don’t Stop Me Now. Featuring its writer playing some amazing piano, and a memorable guitar solo from Brian, this is one of Queen’s best known, radio friendly and most widely covered songs of all. Don’t Stop Me Now would become one of the band’s most requested and frequently downloaded tracks out of all. McFly's 2006 cover, for example, was a UK No 1.
Closing the album, is Roger’s second track, More Of That Jazz. This also features its writer singing lead vocals, as well as playing percussion, bass, rhythm and lead guitars, highlighting his musical talents to the full. The rather unorthodox outro section incorporates snippets of Dead On Time, Bicycle Race, Mustapha, If You Can’t Beat Them, Fun It and Fat Bottomed Girls, so perhaps it wasn’t a great surprise that the song never made it onto the stage act in any form – though it was released as a USA/Japan single B-side.
After the New Orleans show on 31st October, and as a pre-launch party for the Jazz album, Queen laid on a huge, very expensive and typically outrageous (even by Queen standards) party, organised and paid for by the band rather than the record company. Over 400 guests were invited, including press from England, South America, Japan and the USA, as well as staff from EMI and Elektra. The party began at midnight and went on all night. The entertainment included naked female mud-wrestlers, dwarfs, fire-eaters, jazz and steel bands, Zulu dancers, voodoo dancers, strippers, drag artists and unicyclists. The New Orleans party became one of the most infamous events ever thrown by a rock group. It is still talked about to this day.
The first single from the Jazz album was the Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls double-A side disc, released on 13th October 1978. The same coupling was issued worldwide, and various picture sleeves sporting numerous variations of the formerly naked, but now ‘partially dressed’ lady rider, soon become collector’s items. This was the band’s second double-A single up to this point, and it reached No 11 in the UK charts. Elsewhere, the disc made the top ten in several European countries. In the USA, released on 24th October, the single climbed to No 24.
Two videos were filmed for the songs, with director Dennis De Vallance, during rehearsals at the Convention Centre in Dallas, Texas on 28th October - the location of the opening concert of the US Tour. Although the Fat Bottomed Girls footage was used, the Bicycle Race counterpart was not; it remained unseen in the archive vaults until the Greatest Video Hits 1 DVD emerged in 2002. Instead, an alternative video was made for Bicycle Race, containing obscured footage of the naked girls on bicycles, mixed with live footage of the band from Hyde Park in 1976, as well as still photographs, and images of various items and characters mentioned in the song’s lyrics.
The second single to be issued worldwide was Don’t Stop Me Now. Released in the UK on 26th January 1979, it reached No 9 in the charts and No 86 in the US when issued the following month. For the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan the song was paired with Roger’s More Of That Jazz, whereas in the UK, Europe and elsewhere, John’s In Only Seven Days was chosen. A video, directed by Jogen Kleibenst, was filmed during rehearsals for the 1979 European tour, at the Forest Nationale in Brussels, Belgium, in January. Like Fat Bottomed Girls, the film portrayed Queen in a live situation on stage, with Freddie standing at the piano and with the dazzling and blistering hot Pizza Oven lighting rig in all its glory above.
A third single Mustapha b/w Dead On Time was released during the European leg of the tour but only in Germany, Spain and Bolivia. In Yugoslavia, the single featured In Only Seven Days as the B-side. No video was ever made and thus the disc made little impact.
On 27th April 1979 a third single, Jealousy b/w Fun It, was released in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Brazil, but again with no video to help it, it too was largely overlooked.
Did You Know?
1. First album the band had recorded outside the UK
2. The press party was held in New Orleans and is now recognised as one of the greatest album press launch parties ever held by the music industry.
3. Tour de France inspired Freddie to write Bicycle Race
4. Brian actually recorded a thunderstorm for use on one of the tracks (Dead On Time)
5. Queen hired Wimbledon Stadium and had 50 naked girls ride bicycles and Halfords refused to take back used saddles and wanted paying for replacements!
Fat Bottomed Girls/ Bicycle RaceFirst single from the album Jazz
JealousyThird single from the album Jazz
Abrahim, Abrahim, Abrahim Alah Alah Alah Alah will pray for you - hey Mustapha mustapha mustapha Abrahim Mustapha mustapha mustapha Abrahim Mustapha Abrahim mustapha Abrahim Alah Alah Alah will pray for you Mustapha Abrahim Alah Alah Alah will pray for you Mustapha hey mustapha Mustapha Abrahim Mustapha Abrahim Oooh - al la ee, al la ee, al la ee
Oh how wrong can you be Oh to fall in love was my very first mistake How was I to know I was far too much in love to see Oh jealousy look at me now Jealousy you got me somehow You gave me no warning - took me by surprise Jealousy you led me on You couldn't lose, you couldn't fail You had suspicion on my trail How - how - how all my jealousy I wasn't man enough to let you hurt my pride Now I'm only left with my own jealousy Oh how strong can you be With matters of the heart Life is much too short to while away with tears If only you could see just what you do to me (oh jealousy) Jealousy you tripped me up Jealousy you brought me down You bring me sorrow, you cause me pain Jealousy when will you let go Gotta hold of my possessive mind Turned me into a jealous kind How - how - how all my jealousy I wasn't man enough to let you hurt my pride Now I'm only left with my own jealousy But now it matters not if I should live or die Coz I'm only left with my own jealousy
4. Bicycle Race
Bicycle - bicycle - bicycle I want to ride my - bicycle - bicycle - bicycle I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like You say black, I say white, you say bark, I say bite You say shark, I say hey man Jaws was never my scene And I don't like star wars You say Rolls, I say Royce, you say God give me a choice You say Lord, I say Christ I don't believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman All I wanna do is Bicycle - bicycle - bicycle I want to ride my - bicycle - bicycle - bicycle I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my..... Bicycle races are coming your way So forget all your duties oh yeah Fat bottomed girls they'll be riding today So look out for those beauties oh yeah On your marks, get set, go Bicycle race, bicycle race, bicycle race Bicycle bicycle bicycle I want to ride my bicycle Bicycle bicycle bicycle bicycle, I want a bicycle race Hey, you say coke, I say caine, You say John, I say Wayne Hot dog, I say cool it man I don't wanna be the President of America You say smile, I say cheese, Cartier, I say please Income tax, I say jesus I don't want to be a candidate for Vietnam or Watergate Coz all I wanna do is Bicycle (yeah) bicycle (eh) bicycle I want to ride my bicycle bicycle (c'mon) bicycle I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like
5. If You Can't Beat Them
Keep your chin up when you're feeling lonely Don't let them get you down Ain't no use in you sitting all alone Hanging around for someone to call Ooh they won't come knockin' at all Don't run and hide, even if it hurts you inside So I said, give as good as you get yeah If you can't beat em, join em You've got to do it coz it makes you feel good If you can't beat em, join em You're never gonna help yourself Yeah, come on, go, get up, hey, sure feelin' good Keep your fingers off my money Don't try and pull me down You're taking me out to wine and dine me Trying to wind me round and around Invite me to your little contract - ha ha Rumour has it that you could play dirty I'll tell you what I'll do about that and that - oh yeah I'm playing them at their own game yeah! If you can't beat em, join em You've got to do it coz it makes you feel good If you can't beat em, join em You're never gonna help yourself Yeah, that's good, playing dirty If you can't beat em, join em Oh, you've got to do it coz it makes you feel good If you can't beat em, join em It's everyone for themselves Move on out, hey, hey, all right, that rock'n'roll Hey whooh hoo
6. Let Me Entertain You
Hey it's a sell out hey Let me welcome you ladies and gentlemen I would like to say hello Are you ready for some entertainment, are you ready for a show Gonna rock you gonna roll you, get you dancing in the aisles Jazz you, razzmatazz you with a little bit of style C'mon let me entertain you, let me entertain you Let me entertain you, let me entertain you I've come here to sell you my body I can show you some good merchandise I'll pull you and I'll pull you, I'll crueladeville you And to thrill you I'll use any device We'll give you crazy performance, we'll give you grounds for divorce we'll give you piece de resistance, and a tour de force - of course We found the right location, got a lot of pretty lights The sound and the amplification - listen Hey if you need a fix, if you want a high, Stickells'll see to that With Elektra and EMI we'll show you where it's at So c'mon let me entertain you, let me entertain you Let me entertain you, let me entertain you Just take a look at the menu, we give you rock a la carte We'll breakfast at Tiffany's, we'll sing to you in Japanese We're only here to entertain you If you want to see some action, you get nothing but the best The S and M attraction, we've got the pleasure chest Chicago down to New Orleans, we get you on the line If you dig the New York scene we'll have a son of a bitch of a time C'mon, let me entertain, let me entertain Let me entertain you tonight Hey where's my backstage pass Hey that Brian May he's outta sight man Hey that was a bit of alright wasn't it Outrageous costumes Not many, not many And I always wanted to be in opera Oh man I could give you lessons if you like
7. Dead On Time
Fool - always jumping never happy where you land, hey Fool - got no business take your living where you can (ha) Hey, hurry down the highway Hurry down the road Hurry past the people starin' Hurry hurry hurry hurry Leave on time leave on time Never got your ticket but you leave on time Leave on time leave on time Gonna get your ticket but you leave on time Leave on time leave on time Put it in your pocket but you never can tell Leave on time leave on time Shake that rattle gotta leave on time Leave on time leave on time Fight your battle but you leave on time Leave on time leave on time You never got a minute no you never got a minute No you never never got - oh no matter Fool got no business hanging around and telling lies Fool you got no reason but you got no compromise Hey, stampin' on the ceilin' hammering on the walls Gotta get out, gotta get out, gotta get Oh you know I'm going crazy Leave on time leave on time Gotta get ahead but you leave on time Leave on time leave on time Gonna head on ahead but you leave on time Leave on time leave on time You're runnin' in the red but you never can tell Ooh honey honey, gotta get laid Where's my money where's my money Wanna get paid wanna get paid Leave ya leave ya leave ya Leave on time leave on time Gotta get rich gonna leave on time Leave on time leave on time But you can't take it with you when you leave on time Leave on time leave on time Got to keep yourself alive gotta leave on time Gotta leave on time leave on time, dead on time, you're dead
8. In Only Seven Days
Monday, start of my holiday Freedom for just one week Feels good to get away ooh Tuesday saw her down on the beach I stood and watched a while And she looked and smiled at me Wednesday I didn't see her I hoped that she'd be back tomorrow And then on Thursday my luck had changed She stood there all alone I went and asked her name I never thought that this could happen to me In only seven days It would take a hundred or more For memories to fade I wish Friday could last forever I held her close to me I couldn't bear to leave her there Saturday just twenty four hours Oh no I'm going back home on Sunday I'm so sad - alone
9. Dreamer's Ball
Oh I used to be your baby Used to be your pride and joy Mmm, you used to take me dancing Just like any other boy But now you've found another partner And left me like a broken toy Oh it's someone else you're taking Someone else you're playing to Honey though I'm aching I know just what I have to do If I can't have you when I'm waking I'll go to sleep and dream I'm with you Oh take me, take me, take me to the dreamer's ball Mmm, I'll be right on time and I'll dress so fine You're gonna love me when you see me I won't have to worry Take me, take me, promise not to wake me Till it's morning, and it's all been true What do you say about that then honey Are you gonna take me to that dreamer's ball I'd like that Right on that forty second street Way down down town we must go Oh take me, take me, take me, I'm your plaything now You make my life worthwhile with the slightest smile Or destroy me with a barely perceptible whisper Gently take me remember I'll be dreaming of my baby At the dreamer's ball Oh, take me hold me Remember what you told me You'd meet me at the dreamer's ball I'll meet you at the dreamer's ball - ooh
10. Fun It
Ev'rybody in the morning should do a good turn - all right Ev'rybody in the night time should have a good time - all night Now we got a movement, don't shun it, fun it Can't you see now you're movin' free Get some fun join our dynasty Can't you tell when we get it down You're the one you're the best in town Hey ev'rybody ev'rybody gonna have a good time tonight Just shakin' the soles of your feet Ev'rybody ev'rybody gonna have a good time tonight That's the only soul you'll ever meet They say that movin' the body's right, it's all right That's only one part of being alive all right, all right Groove on out - groove on up ok Do your thing, do your thing your way Get your kicks, get your tricks with me Get up and dance honey fun's for free Ev'rybody ev'rybody gonna have a good time tonight Just shakin' the soles of your feet Ev'rybody gonna have a good time tonight time tonight time tonight That's the only soul you'll ever meet Don't shun it fun it Don't shun it fun it Don't shun it fun it
11. Leaving Home Ain't Easy
I take a step outside and I breathe the air And I slam the door and I'm on my way I won't lay no blame, I won't call you names Coz I've made my break and I won't look back I've turned my back on those endless games I'm all through with ties, I'm all tired of tears I'm a happy man, don't it look that way Shakin' dust from my shoes, there's a road ahead And there's no way back home (no way back home) Oh oh but I have to say Leaving home ain't easy Oh I never thought it would be easy Leaving on your own Ah is the main thing calling me back Leaving home ain't easy - on the one you're leaving home Stay my love, my love please stay Don't stray my love, what's wrong my love What's right my love Oh leaving home ain't easy I thought - how could I think of leaving Leaving on your own - still trying to persuade me that Leaving home ain't necessarily the only way Leaving home ain't easy - but may be the only way
13. Don't Stop Me Now
Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time I feel alive - and the world I'll turn it inside out yeah I'm floating around in ecstasy So don't stop me now, don't stop me Coz I'm having a good, time having a good time I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky Like a tiger - defying the laws of gravity I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva I'm gonna go go go, there's no stopping me I'm burnin' through the sky yeah, two hundred degrees That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit I'm trav'ling at the speed of light I wanna make a supersonic man out of you Don't stop me now I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball Don't stop me now If you wanna have a good time, just give me a call Don't stop me now (coz I'm having a good time) Don't stop me now (yes I'm having a good time) I don't want to stop at all yeah, I'm a rocket ship on my way to mars on a collision course I am a satellite, I'm out of control I am a sex machine ready to reload, like an atom bomb About to - oh oh oh oh oh explode I'm burnin' through the sky yeah - two hundred degrees That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit I'm trav'ling at the speed of light I wanna make a supersonic woman of you Don't stop me, don't stop me, don't stop me - hey hey hey don't stop me, don't stop me - ooh ooh ooh - I like it Don't stop me, don't stop me - have a good time good time Don't stop me, don't stop me - ah - alright Oh, I'm burnin' through the sky yeah - two hundred degrees That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit I'm trav'ling at the speed of light I wanna make a supersonic man out of you Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball Don't stop me now, if you wanna have a good time (wooh) Just give me a call (alright) Don't stop me now (coz I'm having a good time yeah yeah) Don't stop me now (yes I'm having a good time) I don't want to stop at all La da da da daah - da da da haa - ha da da ha ha haaa Ha da daa ha da da aaa - ooh ooh ooh If you're feeling tired and lonely - uninspired and lonely If you're thinking how the days seem long All you're given is what you've been given a thousand times before Just more more more of that jazz More no more of that jazz (thankyou) Give me no more no more of that jazz Huh, only football gives us thrills Rock'n'roll just pays the bills Only our team is the real team Bring out the dogs, get on your feet, lie on the floor Kinda thinkin' I've heard that line before Just more more of that jazz, more no more of that jazz Give me no more, no more of that jazz
14. More Of That Jazz
If you're feeling tired and lonely - uninspired and lonely If you're thinking how the days seem long All you're given is what you've been given a thousand times before Just more more more of that jazz More no more of that jazz (thankyou) Give me no more no more of that jazz Huh, only football gives us thrills Rock'n'roll just pays the bills Only our team is the real team Bring out the dogs, get on your feet, lie on the floor Kinda thinkin' I've heard that line before Just more more of that jazz, more no more of that jazz Give me no more, no more of that jazz Oh no matter fool, got no business hangin' around and tellin' lies Bicycle races are coming your way If you can't beat em join them Fun it Are you're gonna let it all hang out Fat bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round No more no more no more of that jazz