Queen – Jazz – Rockin’ Out with Fat Bottomed Girls

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There is a tendency in the recording to be a little “hot” tonally on the vocals and snare. The better copies like this one keep it under control, with the lesser copies getting much too lean and gritty to play loudly. What good is a raver like Fat Bottomed Girls if you can’t turn it up and really rock out with it? 

Roy Thomas Baker is back on the scene here for Jazz, his first production with the band since 1975’s A Night at the Opera, and the last time he would work with Freddie and the boys.

On side one check out the low harmony vocal on the first track. The big kick drum is also a treat. RTB loves his bass, that’s for sure.

Both sides should have an open, extended top end and a solid, rich bottom. Our best copies were big and clear with plenty of rock bottom end and Whomp Factor.

We Love Dynamic Choruses, and These Are Amazing

This is one of the rare pop/rock albums that dramatically changes levels as it moves from the verses to the choruses of many its songs, especially the anthemic Fat Bottomed Girls. Mustapha, the first track on side one, has a huge finish as well. It can take a record like this to open your ears to how compressed practically every rock album you own is.

The sad fact of the matter is that most mixes for rock and pop recordings are just too safe. The engineers and producers believe that the mixes have to be safe for the average (read: crap) stereo to play the record.

We like when music gets loud. It gets loud in live performance — why shouldn’t most of that wonderful energy make it to the record?

News of the World is incredibly dynamic and powerful in this respect, our pick for the best recording by the band, but Jazz on its best cuts is not very far behind it.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Mustapha 
Fat Bottomed Girls
Jealousy 
Bicycle Race 
If You Can’t Beat Them
Let Me Entertain You

Side Two

Dead On Time 
In Only Seven Days 
Dreamer’s Ball 
Fun It 
Leaving Home Ain’t Easy
Don’t Stop Me Now
More Of That Jazz

Review

Famously tagged as “fascist” in a Rolling Stone review printed at the time of its 1978 release, Jazz does indeed showcase a band that does thrive upon its power, thrilling upon the hold that it has on its audience. That confidence, that self-intoxication, was hinted at on News of the World but it takes full flower here, and that assurance acts as a cohesive device, turning this into one of Queen’s sleekest albums.

Like its patchwork predecessor, Jazz also dabbles in a bunch of different sounds — that’s a perennial problem with Queen, where the four songwriters were often pulling in different directions — but it sounds bigger, heavier than News, thanks to the mountains of guitars Brian May has layered all over this record.

If May has indulged himself, Freddie Mercury runs riot all over this album, infusing it with an absurdity that’s hard to resist. This goofiness is apparent from the galloping overture “Mustapha,” and things only get a lot sillier from that point out, as the group sings the praises of “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bicycle Races,” as May and Mercury have an unspoken competition on who can overdub the most onto a particular track while Roger Taylor steers them toward their first disco song in the gloriously dumb “Fun It.”

But since over-the-top campiness has always been an attribute in Queen, this kind of grand-scale exaggeration gives Jazz a sense of ridiculousness that makes it more fun than many of their other albums.