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Jan 22
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,10 November 1978, Queen released their seventh studio album, “Jazz” in the UK by EMI records. It was produced by Queen with co-producer Roy Thomas Baker (this would be the last Queen/Baker production.)

Because of the band’s massive wealth, they were advised to spend a year outside England and take up temporary residency elsewhere, namely the tax exile of Montreux. With that in mind, this was the first album to be recorded outside of the UK.

Sessions for ‘Jazz’ began at Mountain Studios in Switzerland, July 1978 and later at Super Bear Studios in Nice, France. The recordings concluded in October 1978.

Queen were aware that topping the anthems on ‘News Of The World’ would take some doing, so they decided on a more eclectic approach. The result was the “Jazz “ album. Queen was now so very popular they could have come up with just about anything as a title for a seventh disc – whose ever-so-slightly jokey handle (the antithesis of everything punk or new wave) was deemed just-so. But the last thing you’ll find on Jazz is any jazz.

In July 1978, Queen decamped to France, to the same Super Bear studio near to Nice and the agreeable beaches of the Côte d’Azur. The band headed to Montreux and Mountain Studios, part of the Casino Barrière de Montreux.

Mountain studios was used first, this would began a healthy relationship with the city of Montreux, one which would last throughout their career. Queen eventually purchased Mountain Studios in 1979, a canny piece of real estate investment. Resident engineer David Richards asked what they planned to do with the facility, Freddie replied, “Why dump it in the lake, dear!”

(Freddie moved himself to a flat with a view of Lake Geneva, a bolthole that he described to friends as a slice of heaven. “If you want peace of mind, come to Montreux.”)

‘Jazz’ contained varying musical styles that were alternately praised and criticised. While the dramatically different writing styles had been contributed to what made up a solid Queen album, it would seem the band were repeating a formula here. Brian hinted at the mental health of the band during an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1989, he said, “Around the ‘Jazz’ album we were all getting into our own things and nobody much liked what the other guys were doing. To be honest, there were times when we couldn’t tolerate each other off-stage.”

While the band weren’t entirely pleased with ‘Jazz,’ Brian also stated in an interview with International Musician & Recording World, “Jazz was a European-flavoured thing. It was a strange mixture and didn’t click very well in America.” He later told the BBC Radio One, “We thought it would be nice to try again with producer Roy Baker on whom we could put some of the responsibility. We’d found a few of our own methods, and so had he, and on top of what we’d collectively learned before, we thought coming back together would mean that there’d be some new stuff going on, and it worked pretty well.”

Released on November 10, 1978, Jazz was the band’s longest album to that point. It went Platinum in the US, and their love for that country was cemented with another winter tour that took them from Dallas to Inglewood and then home to Britain in time for Christmas. British audiences wouldn’t see them for quite a while, but as usual, it was worth the wait…

The album artwork was suggested by Roger Taylor, who previously saw a similar design painted on the Berlin Wall.

The album’s varying musical styles were alternately praised and criticised. It reached number two in the UK Albums Chart and number six on the US Billboard 200. Jazz has sold over five million copies worldwide.

In a retrospective assessment, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic described Jazz as “one of their sleekest albums.” He cited that the album’s diversity and exaggeration made it “more fun than any of their other albums.”

Alexis Petridis wrote in The Guardian, “Jazz was hysterical in every sense of the word, but the music press comprehensively failed to get the joke, particularly in the US”.

In 2006, Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times included it in his list of “The Great Albums,” describing it as “a genre-hopping tour of diverse musical styles” and concluded that “What ultimately keeps me coming back to the album, however, is that ambiguous sexual energy running through all 13 tracks; the fact that each of them boasts more hooks than some bands have on an entire album, and the inviting sonic density of it all.”

When Loudersound ranked every Queen album from best to worst, Jazz came fourth, as they felt it presented “some of the most satisfying moments in Queen’s career.”

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    A kind of Magic 1986
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