Queen released their seventh studio album, Jazz, on November 10, 1978.
The LP featured some of Queen’s biggest hits, including “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and was Queen’s fourth album to chart in the top ten of the Billboard 200.
In honor of its anniversary, here are six fun facts about Jazz.
Roy Thomas Baker had a hand in producing Queen's first four albums: 1973's 'Queen'; 1974's 'Queen II' and 'Sheer Heart Attack; and 1975's 'A Night at the Opera.' He would be absent on 1976's 'A Day at the Races' and 1977's 'News of the World,' but he would return for 'Jazz,' which would end up being the final album he produced for Queen.
Per Queen's official website, "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 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 one of the band's roadies, while the inner sleeve photograph was instead taken at Super Bear studios in France by Chris Hopper."
"Fat Bottomed Girls" was thought of as exploitive with Dave Marsh writing in his 'Rolling Stone' review for 'Jazz,' "'Fat Bottomed Girls' isn’t sexist — it regards women not as sex objects but as objects, period (the way the band regards people in general)." Brian May, meanwhile, said, "It brought us a lot of flak, but it’s a piece of fun. It was meant to be very complimentary, I mean, that’s the way I certainly felt about it."
Perhaps one of the most infamous moments in Queen video lore was the clip produced for "Bicycle Race." Filmed at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, the band hired 65 female models and filmed them cycling around the track on bicycles naked. Not only did the video get banned in some countries, but Queen were forced to replace all 65 bike seats per the demand of the company from which the bikes were rented. (Honestly, you can't really fault the rental company for that request.)
Elektra Records wanted to avoid controversy in the United States, so 'Jazz' was packaged sans nudie poster. Per Queen's official website, "Although photographs from the unforgettable Wimbledon bike race featured in newspapers of the time, the poster was deemed too risqué for the American public and instead of making it part of the LP package, as it was everywhere else, Elektra Records avoided causing offence to retailers by instead including a coupon with which people could apply for their free poster." So, if American Queen fans wanted the poster, they had to jump through a minor hoop to get it.
'Jazz' contains "Fat Bottomed Girls," "Bicycle Race," "Don't Stop Me Now," "Jealously" and many other fan favorites, but critics were just not having it. In the aforementioned 'Rolling Stone' review, Dave Marsh wrote, "There’s no Jazz on Queen’s new record, in case fans of either were worried about the defilement of an icon. Queen hasn’t the imagination to play jazz — Queen hasn’t the imagination, for that matter, to play rock & roll. 'Jazz' is just more of the same dull pastiche that’s dominated all of this British supergroup’s work: tight guitar/bass/drums heavy-metal clichés, light-classical pianistics, four-part harmonies that make the Four Freshmen sound funky and Freddie Mercury’s throat-scratching lead vocals. Robert Christgau wrote in the 'Village Voice,' "Despite the title--come back, Ry Cooder, all is forgiven--this isn't completely disgusting. 'Bicycle Race' is even funny. Put them down as 10cc, with a spoke, or a pump, up their ass." Yeesh!