Just why does Queen's ''Jazz'' album sound so bad?*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Morfmusic, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    I think Jazz is one of their better recorded albums.
  2. Kinda what I was thinking too... it and “The Game” are probably the two best thinking off the top of my head.

    When “Mustapha” kicks in from the (kinda) mono to the stereo part my jaw dropped last time I played it. Had the volume wayyyyyy too loud.
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  3. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    Guilty as accused on that one here too.

    We’re probably not an exclusive club.
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  4. And I knew it was coming just had forgotten about it cause I hadn’t listened in forever, haha.
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  5. April Snow

    April Snow Forum Resident

    I love this album and picked it up yesterday from an Aussie store that has the special LTD ed in pink - 2019 pressing - always loved it on CD - but worried that the vinyl might not be so good? Seems the 2015 re-issue got various reviews from good to "low sound".........I believe the 2019 is the same cut only in pink.........anyone else have it?
  6. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Forum Resident

    NYC Man
    Yeah, Hotter Than Hell has a very different sound to it that works perfectly for the tunes--it sets a really unique, dark, kind of other-worldly mood, but per "audiophile production norms," it is really poorly EQed/mixed.
  7. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    Dead on Time sounds great to me.
  8. DPC

    DPC Forum Resident

    Assuming you’re referring to the vinyl, I’ve always enjoyed Jazz’s sound in its original US (or UK) Sterling...and the 2014 remaster sounds quite good, too. I just prefer the Sterlings (my go to is a nice US promo). No CD /digital input.
    It’s in the top few sounding of Queen’s catalog in my book. The Game is good as well, but I prefer Jazz content.
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  9. Freezerburn

    Freezerburn Spendin' Monopoly Money

    Pennsylvania USA
    I've heard other albums from name brand bands in the seventies that sound far worse than Jazz. The first Molly Hatchet and Nugent's Weekend Warriors come to mind. Two great albums that sound awful.

    And of course Hotter Than Hell scores big points in the tin can category.
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  10. April Snow

    April Snow Forum Resident

    Thank you & yes I am referring to the Vinyl issue (sorry for not making that clearer)
    Jazz is one of my favourite Queen albums - the Game I am not such a fan of (even though in truth I love them all).

    This one is the 1/2 speed remastered vinyl - it is a new 2019 release but Discogs says it is the same cut as the 2015 one only in the Pink Vinyl and someone comments they sound identical so the colour has not affect the play.

    I believe the pink was only released via HMV UK in small numbers but in Australia it is released as LTD Ed via our store here called "JB HiFi" and it went on sale for Black Friday but I think they meant to hold it back as I noticed it shot back up to full price and is now excluded from the sale (but great I got in quick and got 20% off before that happened).

    But then on googling - some say the Jazz Vinyls have been much "quieter" than the other issues - so I started to worry about that.
    I notice that my Night at the Opera 1975 Aussie pressing is also the quietest record in my whole collection which is interesting to me. I only have the NATO and now Jazz of Queens, but compared to say Madonna 1980s Aussie Like a Prayer the NATO is quiet, but I just thought it was because it was old (hahaha - see - I am a newbie).

    Vinyl sure is a whole new ball game when purchasing music.

  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    Can't say I ever had a problem with the sound of Jazz, vinyl or cd.

    Hotter than Hell is so ugly it is beautiful...

    Sometimes audiophile recording is the last thing certain albums need. A little dirt goes a long way.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  12. April Snow

    April Snow Forum Resident

    It is funny to me as I have JAZZ on CD - 1991 & 2011 issues and never really thought of them as not great sound quality, but then likely have not paid attention as Vinyl is a whole different beast I am learning about now...........
    Also only just recently got a decent sound system back up and running again (after downsizing to a sound bar and woofer for many years) so picking up flaws even in Digital CDs now I never noticed before (like Tape hiss) on a new system.
    But the tape hiss on CDs are from really old recordings like Etta James & one would expect that to a point of course due to the age of the recordings (one cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear) - but I was curious about Jazz but seems there is a general thought reading through here even the masters were not mixed so great?
    I found it fascinating as I just have loved Jazz so much on CD anyway - but the I am not an audiophile I guess and my ears are often not good enough to pick up differences unless blatantly obvious.
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  13. April Snow

    April Snow Forum Resident

    Now that is something well said - that is how I always felt about Jazz (on CD) it is kind of raw and gritty - and has that "we are in the studio messing about" feel to me -
    but I was just wondering if the actual Vinyl (2015 remaster / 2019 Remaster lifted off 2015 issue) is poorly done.

    Seems the jury is out on 1/2 speed mastering anyway..........

    Guess I was wanting some thoughts before I crack the plastic cover on it and cannot return it - hahahaha
    But I think might be worth trying out for myself as a newbie there is only one way to learn I guess.

    I have been sourcing mainly original LP Pressings in my whole collection (unless I have read the reissues are an improvement) but sometimes they are hard to find and I will only buy NM mostly as that is subjective to the person grading it, until I get more experienced, but this one popped up and it was Black Friday and all ......... 20% off a new release that was not supposed to be on the shelf yet.

    Thank you :)
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  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    Records shouldn't remain in plastic, just like guitars shouldn't live on walls :righton:
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  15. Rosskolnikov

    Rosskolnikov Designated Cloud Yeller

    First album (of theirs) recorded in Mountain Studios, I think. They were probably just getting used to how to get a sound there.
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  16. April Snow

    April Snow Forum Resident

    I agree but as soon as I bust that plastic seal I cannot return it :goodie:(unless faulty) anyway, I have ripped it open, washed it in the Spin Clean and now it is spinning as I write this.

    It sounds different to the CD - which I notice with Mustapha - starts off really quiet on Vinyl (CD not such a quiet start I don't think?) and I am winding up the volume thinking "this is awful" then half way through it shakes the pictures off the wall :wiggle:

    It is varying in sound in the way some things are sort of quiet then little explosions that shake the walls but maybe that is just how it was mixed - I need to sit and listen to the CD again on my new setup to compare I guess.

    a lot of static on my copy - even though I washed and Milty Zero Stat - but it is dusty and humid in my part of Australia right now and everything feels sticky.
    I hope once I Milty and Re-sleeve it in the Mofi sleeve it will be OK. I have noticed that a couple of days in a sleeve helps for some weird reason?

    I don't have any other Queen albums to compare it to - only my 1975 Night at the Opera Vinyl that is also quieter than most vinyls.
    Maybe that is how Queen did it then?
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  17. Yes, I have to agree that the drum sound is lacking in places, but Roger's performances more than make up for any sonic deficiencies... How can you not love his playing on Fat Bottomed Girls and Dead On Time in particular? Also, Bicycle Race and Don't Stop Me Now are Freddie at his exuberant best. I even have a fondness for this album's supposed lesser moments, including Dreamer's Ball, Leaving Home Ain't Easy (which definitely seems as if it would have fit perfectly on The Game) and In Only Seven Days, while Let Me Entertain You deserved to remain in live sets longer than it did... Well, at least until the reference to Elektra no longer made sense!

    As for why Jazz failed in the eyes - or should that be ears? - of some listeners, I feel that it was very much a transitional product. After the starkness heard on News Of The World, I suspect the kitchen sink production approach of old was no longer appealing to the band's members, with Roger the first to demonstrate signs of wanting to move away from the "no synths" disclaimer that had once featured in the liner notes of each new release through his use of Pollard Syndrums. Even the return of Roy Thomas Baker felt more like an afterthought than a conscious effort to recapture the bombast of the past, so we're left with material that suffers from something of an identity crisis.

    Coming off the back of one tour and so quickly embarking on another that led to Freddie being captured in perhaps the worst his voice had been up to that point, maybe the problem is that Jazz was hurried out, rather than being something that enjoyed the usual level of attention Queen gave to its work? Sure, by this stage each member could bring a degree of consistent writing to the table, but in recent years I've found that it's the first real time you could accuse them of churning tracks out to keep their names in the public eye as opposed to because they had something of substance to offer. Where's the coherence, the master plan, the grand vision? More Of That Jazz, indeed.

    Speaking of the closing track on this album, was the mash-up section a forward-thinking idea or just an excuse to pad out the LP? Similarly, was there previously a more obvious case of filler than If You Can't Beat Them? Worse would certainly come, but at least the opening gimmick of Mustapha blowing out your speakers justified Jazz as a whole existing. I mean, Dragon Attack is literally an instrumental jam with Freddie throwing out random phrases that just so happen to rhyme, including a gratuitous nod to new co-producer Reinhold Mack. Was he already so confident in this new addition to the Queen musical palette to give him a permanent slot in their lyrical catalogue?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
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  18. aphexj

    aphexj Sound mind & body

    I have an original Canadian Elektra/WEA press and... uh... sorry, what were we talking about? Got distracted by the poster included with it :yikes:
  19. tspit74

    tspit74 Forum Resident

    Woodridge, IL, USA
    Been spinning this record regularly since 1984. No opinion on the sound. It just sounds like a 1978 Queen album.
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  20. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    I'm sure it was just one of those studio effects that Roy Thomas Baker was so fond of. It would have only padded the album by about 20 seconds.
  21. Devin S

    Devin S Cast your words away upon the waves

    Did RTB record the Jazz multitracks on his Stephens 40-track? He had just used it on The Cars debut album which always seemed to sound a bit harsh in the top end and somewhat lacking in bass (30ips head bump).

    The Stephens deck was very portable by design, the meters could be detached from the deck. He loved that machine so I suppose it's possible. Anyone know more about this?
  22. aphexj

    aphexj Sound mind & body

    I don't think so. Never been a peep about that from Queen's archivists before, anyhow. If they needed the extra tracks, by then they would have slaved a second 24-track machine to the first
  23. April Snow

    April Snow Forum Resident

    I actually love the song "Dreamers Ball" it is a favourite of mine and one of the reasons I brought the album on Vinyl - it is so romantic and lilting - and I think "leaving Home" sounds really good on the Vinyl too, I have always liked Brian's voice - it is not what you call strong or brilliant - but it is soft and warm and comes across sincere. Sometimes I find Rogers voice harsh and a bit too much (reminds me of Rod Stewart's voice) but of course all singing together and it is PERFECTION & always blows me away.

    Yes Fat Bottomed Girls & Bicycle Race sound super good on the Vinyl issue.

    I DID get caught out with Mustapha though - turning it up thinking "awful low sound" - and then the "explosion" happened.
    I compared Mustapha on my Jazz 1991 CD and 2011 CD copies though -
    1991 is all sort of the same level but 2011 is like the new Vinyl release - starts mono then goes into Stereo but it is STILL louder on the CD cut than the LP on the intro.
    I wish they did have that louder as it sounds a little lost even when turned up.
    Maybe that is my turntable (*sigh* saving up to upgrade next year).
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  24. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa Play that fast thing one more time

    Dayton Ohio
    What did it say? Inquiring minds want to know ;)
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  25. clhboa

    clhboa Forum Resident

    "Weekend Warriors", where's the bass?

    Never had any issues with the Molly Hatchet album though.

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