I was holding out high hopes for Jazz , given that its infamous double A-side of ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ and ‘Bicycle Race’ consists of two of my favourite Queen singles, but the remainder of the album is disappointing in comparison. Most of the songs sound like they’re outtakes from previous albums (May’s ‘Leaving Home Ain’t Easy’ is from the same mould as News Of The World‘s ‘All Dead All Dead’), inferior version of previous songs (the waltzy ‘Dreamer’s Ball’ in particular seems like a retread) or just plain generic (‘Jealousy’ and ‘In Only Seven Days’, pretty ballads from Mercury and Deacon respectively).
Jazz lacks impetus compared to Queen’s other seventies albums, and only ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ and ‘Dead On Time’ (a frenzied May riff looking for a song) feel cut adrift among a whole bunch of mid-tempo sludge. Mercury has completed the transition into a flamboyant showman, and songs like ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and ‘Let Me Entertain You’ leave me cold, while the Eastern experiment of ‘Mustapha’ doesn’t really ignite and gets the album off to a shaky start. Deacon’s ‘If You Can’t Beat Them’ is another of his disposable self-help anthems (joining ‘Spread Your Wings’ and ‘Friends Will Be Friends’). Taylor’s contributions here are both misses; ‘Fun It’ is turgid and dated, while ‘More Of That Jazz’ is a good vehicle for Taylor’s gravelly voice and the collage of highlights at the end is a neat concept, but the song itself is dispensable.
Jazz was Queen’s worst album to date, lacking the spark of previous releases; even so it’s recommended for fans since it contains a batch of competent overlooked songs.