Jazz can best be described as a transitional album. Up to this point, the big guitar sound had served them well, but times were changing. There is much more self-indulgence on Jazz than anything they had released so far. As a band who always were able to come up with the most unlikely hit singles, they did not disappoint here either. “Bicycle Race”/”Fat Bottomed Girls” was all over the radio that spring, and the album even featured a poster of (you guessed it) a nude, big-bottomed girls in a bicycle race.
For many longtime Queen fans, Jazz was a bit of a disappointment. “Let Me Entertain You,” “Dreamer's Ball,” “Fun It,” and “More Of That Jazz” were not quite what we were used to. Although there was enough great material to outweigh the bad, the album pointed the way to a very different Queen than what had come before. Just how different they were becoming would become crystal clear with their next outing.
The bonus EP for Jazz contains such curios as the instrumental track to “Bicycle Race” (which sounds surprisingly different), and the single version of “Fat Bottomed Girls.” There are early takes of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and “Dreamers Ball” as well. Finally we get a version of “Let Me Entertain You” recorded live in Montreal 1981.
The Game (1980)
With the 1980 release of The Game, Queen became a different band. While Jazz was a transitional album, The Game was a triumph, and became their largest selling record of all time. Two mega-hits paved the way, and neither sounded like the Queen of old. Both “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” topped the Billboard singles chart, while the album itself went on to sell over four million copies.
The rest of The Game contained some fine songs as well, including “Play The Game and “Sail Away Sweet Sister.” Even though The Game was Queen’s biggest album ever, it marked the end of the band’s dominance of the US market.
The bonus EP features a rollicking live version of “Dragon Attack,” from 1982, as well as a live take on “Save Me.” “A Human Body” is a quirky Roger Taylor b-side, while “Sail Away Sweet Sister,” and “It’s A Beautiful Day,” are heard in very early demo forms.
Flash Gordon (1980)
One has to wonder about Queen’s decision to make the soundtrack to Flash Gordon their next official album. Sure, they were riding high, and the power of Mercury's sheer belief in the group made them seemingly invincible. But this really isn’t a Queen album at all. There are a couple of Queen songs, such as “Flash‘s Theme” and “The Hero,” but otherwise it is a soundtrack album to the core. Not only is there a plethora of dialog from the film, but the cheesy early eighties sound effects are all over the place. It would be fair to say that Flash Gordon is for the die-hards.