I’m find it hard to capture my thoughts on this one. It feels like a departure.
It’s not unusual for Queen to suddenly slam in with a number that doesn’t really sound like anything they’ve done before. And this hits that criteria, but it feels like there’s something a little extra different this time.
It’s pretty mundanely unique, within the catalogue. I think we’ll hear more like this later, and maybe this is just an important first example, a watershed.
Believe it or not, in the USSR, Don’t Stop Me Now was the B-side to this one. Oh those Russians.
Brian’s got a bit of piano wire on his frets, so he can sound a bit like a sitar. Freddie’s got a quiet on. John’s higher up in the mix than usual. Roger’s quite gentle and restrained.
I think it’s all in the arrangement. This track sounds so quiet and gentle and poppish. It’s not quite doing an impression of anything, but it doesn’t quite sound like Queen, beyond Freddie’s voice and those harmonies.
My favourite moments are the subtler oddities of Freddie’s delivery. Those ‘oh-oh-how’s, that ‘surpri-i-i-o-ise’, the minor ‘mistake’. It’s full of these vocal fripperies, cliches given surprising depth.
Honestly. I’m running out of steam. I’m scared I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, now I’m past the records I know, and everything’s a surprise. I don’t really have anything I’m that familiar with until we hit The Miracle, and that’s a long way off.
I came home from work, shattered and tired, and I couldn’t face putting on any Queen. I couldn’t remember what the next track was, but I knew I couldn’t face it.
But I forced myself. Lifted the needle, dropped it in, and this came out.
Quietly seductive, without bombast, Freddie just made me feel comfortable, homeful, and rested.
Sandwiched between one of music histories most ridiculous double A sides, is Jealousy. A perfectly turned out quiet pop ballad, entirely out of place, unprecedented, and out of keeping with the band performing it.
I wasn’t man enough
To let you hurt my pride
I think we’re seeing a transition, at this point. Jazz is the last of the ‘no-synth’ records, and it’s a strange one. I think it’s another one that will suffer from being sliced into its component parts. It would be too easy to let it just feel derailed and absurd. Queen trying to go too Queen, have a bit too much of everything, and not paying each element enough attention.
But that would be a foolish, foolish reading. Jazz feels so threateningly self aware. The name itself an obvious challenge to anyone trying to pigeonhole the band. The design, that artwork, is gorgeous, strange and unusual. Hearking to something entirely unlike your expectations.
Like this album.
Like this song.
Jealousy is a quiet tale of a relationship broken down by envy. It’s just Freddie telling a story. It’s all I’ve ever really needed. I’ve got to remember that.
It’s the simplicity. Sometimes. It’s the heart.
To be honest, once the trust is gone enough to get jealous, we’re already doomed.
Stay with me. Don’t get jealous. Just trust me. And I’ll trust you. And I’ll trust Queen.
And maybe we’ll get through this.
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.