Status Quo album-by-album thread (50 Years of Quo)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by JulesRules, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    1974: Quo

    1974: Quo

    1. Backwater (Parfitt/Lancaster) ~ 4:21 L
    2. Just Take Me (Parfitt/Lancaster) 3:39 L
    3. Break the Rules (Rossi/Young/Parfitt/Lancaster/Coghlan) 3:39 L
    4. Drifting Away (Parfitt/Lancaster) 5:05
    5. Don't Think It Matters (Parfitt/Lancaster) 4:55 (L)
    6. Fine Fine Fine (Rossi/Young) 2:30
    7. Lonely Man (Parfitt/Lancaster) 5:00
    8. Slow Train (Rossi/Young) 7:55 M

    ~ indicates a song that segues into the next; M indicates a song performed live as part of a medley

    Tom Parker – Piano on “Break the Rules”
    Bob Young – Harmonica on “Break the Rules” [+ “Railroad” & “Roadhouse Blues”]


    2015 Deluxe Edition Disc 2:

    1. Lonely Night [B-Side of “Break the Rules”] (Rossi/Young/Parfitt/Lancaster/Coghlan) 3:32 [also 2005 remaster]
    Live at Paris L’Olympia, 11th January 1975
    2. Junior’s Wailing (White/Pugh) 5:42
    3. Backwater (Lancaster/Parfitt) 4:26
    4. Just Take Me (Lancaster/Parfitt) 4:33
    5. Claudie (Rossi/Young) 4:54
    6. Railroad (Rossi/Young) 5:44
    7. Roll Over Lay Down (Rossi/Young/Parfitt/Lancaster/Coghlan) 5:36
    8. Big Fat Mama (Rossi/Parfitt) 5:45
    9. Don’t Waste My Time (Rossi/Young) 4:05
    10. Roadhouse Blues (Doors) 16:53
    11. Caroline (Rossi/Young) [incl. Drum Solo (Coghlan)] 8:01
    12. Bye Bye Johnny (Berry) 7:02

    “Quo” (apparently originally called “Quo Now”) shows the band moving in a heavier, harsher direction. The Rossi/Young axis supplied fewer tracks than usual, which gave the Parfitt/Lancaster collaboration room to stretch out and present their ideas. Francis later said he thought the album was ‘unbalanced’, a view I tend to agree with. While Alan’s voice works great as a counterpart to Francis’ and Rick’s, it’s a bit tiring to hear him sing alone on so many tracks (“Drifting Away” in particular gets on my nerves). The Roger-Dean-esque cover certainly fits since Alan is the one opening his mouth. “Quo” is an interesting album, with some songs showing possibilities well beyond the beaten path, but I consider it a step down after two excellent albums. What also doesn’t help is the distorted sound of the album – something Andy Pearce tried to soften out, but there’s only so much you can do with the master tapes I guess. What I do like about the 2015 remaster is the voluminous, three-dimensional sound.

    Backwater/Just Take Me: Two separate songs but connected by a drum interlude and often played in one go live. “Backwater” starts off with an ear-catching guitar duet joined by bass and drums, but the hulking opening groove soon stops and gives way to a soundscape that finally develops into the actual song. A brilliant introduction to the album, that’s for sure. Alan starts singing and his voice fits the aggressive tone of the music. Despite the blues-based nature of the track, there are several interesting parts here and there – most notably the soaring guitar solo with its unforgettable melody and an unusual chord sequence that is in stark contrast to the rest of the song. The song ends with John Coghlan playing a nifty drum/cowbell pattern that forms the basis of the next song. “Just Take Me” feels like a natural extension of “Backwater” (same key, Alan singing again) but it’s faster and more “in your face”, Francis’ wild guitar break in particular. Certainly, this eight minute opening combination is a great way to start an album.

    Break the Rules: This was the only single and another Top Ten smash, but in recent times fans have often pointed out that “Backwater” (which exists in a rare mix with a clean ending and was apparently intended to be the only single) would have been the better choice because it’s more unusual and would have lessened the public impression that Quo were a one-trick pony. I also think that “Backwater” is musically more interesting than “Break the Rules” but it’s also less accessible. “Break the Rules” is still a nice song, traditionally blues/boogie-based with guitar (sped up Rossi), piano (Tom Parker) and harmonica (Bob Young) solos and that irresistible Quo shuffle.

    Drifting Away: As I’ve mentioned above this is a weak point of the LP for me. Alan’s aggressive voice over a monotonous pumping beat, combined with the humourless macho lyrics doesn’t appeal to me. However, once the continuous rhythm guitar gets out of the mix and the instrumental part starts, my interest is back. Like the first two tracks, there are some “progressive” flourishes here and I love the twin guitars. There’s another solo in the fade which has always bewildered me…

    Don’t Think It Matters: Another song that lacks melodic charm IMO, but this time the massive guitar groove makes it up for me. Think “Roll Over Lay Down” with less catchiness but more heaviness. Francis’ solo is often quoted as his best ever, and I can see why.

    Fine Fine Fine: Each time I hear that intro, it sounds like “Going for the One” by Yes is about to start. Well, that was an unusual bluesy rock ‘n’ roll track on a prog album from 1977, this is an unusual country ditty on a hard rock album from 1974. Not bad but a bit lightweight.

    Lonely Man: This is the only Rick vocal on the album (a shame) and I admit I feel torn on it. The song has an interesting, psychedelic and melancholic atmosphere and I like the organ. But as it progresses, the drums really start annoying me. I think a less “crowded” arrangement would have worked better.

    Slow Train: If the “epic” parts here and there didn't convince you that this is the Quo’s “prog” album, a multi-part eight minute song might do the trick. It hammers along at a furious rate before getting nastier, slower and heavier. (Interestingly enough, Paul McCartney’s “Venus and Mars”/”Rock Show” from around the same time uses a very similar riff.) This part later became the end of the “Mystery Medley”, but there’s more. The guitar solo keeps up the momentum before it dissolves into a “sweet” part that then gets transformed into a complicated jig with twin guitars. A short but intense drum solo gives way to the breath-taking finale, where Status Quo throw in all the brutal heaviness they could muster. Even with the unpleasant sound quality, “Slow Train” remains a masterpiece that belies, once and for all, the myth that Quo can only play one style and are somehow simplistic.

    Lonely Night: OK as a b-side, but it’s not great. Sounds like Quo on autopilot. An Australian band called The Angels turned this into the hit “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again”!

    Live in Paris 1975: This is an audience recording and since we already got “Australia ’74” from the same tour (which we’ll come to later) with the same setlist and markedly better sound, it feels like a superfluous addition to make the edition ‘deluxe’. The band did play with more fire than in 1974, but because of the miserable sound this is something you probably won’t listen to a lot. (An interesting bit of trivia: because Quo didn't play another encore after Bye bye Johnny, a riot broke out, and part of the chairs and a wall were destroyed. Unfortunately, this can not be heard on the bootleg… In a French interview the band argued that they had done their job, and that it was the fault of the organisators, who hadn’t switched the light on again after Bye bye Johnny, so that the public expected more.
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  2. Ma Kelly

    Ma Kelly Forum Resident

    Ah Quo. What a brute of an album. I can understand why some wouldn't like it as much as their other "classic" albums as it's certainly more harsh than anything else they did, but that's why I love it. Hello! to me was too tame, so this is the perfect response. Everything about just sounds harsh - I mentioned earlier how the band are on record saying they couldn't get the sound right, but I'm glad they couldn't. The guitars are probably the most raw of any Quo album and Spud plays an absolute blinder throughout this album. Drifting Away is probably my all time favourite Quo song - just such an ugly sound, especially that weird growly guitar noise going through the verses (feedback?). The ending where it breaks down and kicks in again with Spud rocking out is my favourite Quo moment of all. Not necessarily heavy like say Black Sabbath, but positively **** kicking. And the same goes for the ending of Slow Train - nothing fancy, just absolutely monumental, brutal boogie.
  3. Ma Kelly

    Ma Kelly Forum Resident

    I sort of agree with this, as it's always sounded too cluttered to me too. Not so much the drums though, more like there seem to be too many guitar parts going on.

    No! This is one of my favourite Quo songs! Rossi's vocal melody, as usual, is great.
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  4. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    That background noise drives me up the wall, I swear! The main reason I can't get into the song. Oh well.
  5. John Fell

    John Fell Forum Survivor

  6. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

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  7. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Live at Wembley 1974

    1. ►Backwater/Just Take Me
    2. ►Roll Over Lay Down
    3. ►Big Fat Mama
    4. ►Don’t Waste My Time

    (can't find the other tracks, sorry)
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  8. John Fell

    John Fell Forum Survivor

    Happy Birthday John Coghlan!
  9. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oh gosh, I completely forgot.
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  10. Bathory

    Bathory 30 yr Single Malt, not just for breakfast anymore



    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE STATUS QUO, DO A COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY BOX. in the same way Golden Earring did it. They did it right !!!!!!!!

    i have a few on LP, but they have 300 albums, and buying each one would cost me a small fortune. i NEED the Status Quo complete discography on cd or LP. "complete" ! no missing songs
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  11. John Fell

    John Fell Forum Survivor

    My favorites here are Backwater and Break The Rules along with the overlooked Don't Think It Matters. Just Take Me is a little overrated in my book. Part of Slow Train is good but I think it goes on too long. Drift Away is also pretty good.

    Lonely Night isn't too bad. I like it better than Fine Fine Fine and Lonely Man. The sound on the live show deters me from listening much. I agree you might as well listen to the Australia show with better sound.

    This is probably my least favorite of the early Frantic Four albums up to Live.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
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  12. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    Great review. Rick's rhythm playing on this album is beastly.
  13. Almost Simon

    Almost Simon Forum Resident

    My favourite Quo album. Their heaviest by far. Great tunes. I don't feel the lack of Rossi is a bad thing, I like him a lot but great to see the Lancaster/Parfitt writing team dominate the album. No wonder he wasnt a fan of the record.

    The weakness? The fact they write 5 of the 8 songs yet Rick only sings one. As much as I am a fan of Lancaster why have the 3rd singer in the band sing 4 of the 5 songs and Rick only one? Doesn't make any sense and that inevitably weakens peoples opinions of the record. Imagine Rick singing Don't Think It Matters or Drifting Away. I think with Parfitt on a few more lead vocals the album would be better rated.

    Slow Train is a gem. Would love to see them perform it live. Superb. Not a weak track for me, Fine Fine Fine is another gem. I play this album often, perfect on vinyl. I do also have a 2for1 cd of this and Blue For You. Possibly why these two albums are my faves by Quo.
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  14. Almost Simon

    Almost Simon Forum Resident

  15. Almost Simon

    Almost Simon Forum Resident

  16. Almost Simon

    Almost Simon Forum Resident

  17. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    A fine Quo album and a one off in their discography with so many Lancaster lead vocals.

    Backwater and Just Take Me are just superb. The band's playing is loud, inventive and tight here. They are both favourites of mine.

    I've always found Break The Rules only OK, rather ordinary. The weakest of their 1973 - 76 singles but still fine. Drifting Away is a rare thing. A Frantic Four track I don't like. Too macho and tuneless for my liking. There's no tune to the music.

    I like all side two and find Fine Fine Fine and Lonely Man nice diversions before the epic Slow Train.

    The sound of this album is great. All loud guitars and distortion! I like my Quo rough sounding. I've never heard guitars sound like they do on Backwater and the other rockers here. Lastly I have to mention that all the band are on top form here, even if Rossi and Parfitt perhaps could have had more vocals, but Rick Parfitt plays an absolute blinder on this album. As does John Coghlan. What a great band they were.

    Another fantastic 70s Status Quo album. They were unstoppable then.
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  18. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Opinions on this album are quite variable, I've experienced. I think it's very interesting, but as I've said not all of it works for me. Still, this is probably good proof that Quo are more than a one-trick pony.

    Because of the long gaps, I'll be posting On the Level... soon.
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  19. Johns44

    Johns44 Forum Resident

    Yateley, UK
    Well here we have it ..The Quo album. First off the cover is absolutely fantastic and right up there with all those so called classic albums. Over the years I've had a love/little less love relationship with the album. Blackwater/Just Take Me is an amazing start to any album Break the Rules was probably the right commercial choice as the single off the album but as a Quo single it is a bit on the weak side compared to other 70's singles. Drifting Away is my weak link of the album, but Don't Think it Matters is excellent. Always liked Fine Fine Fine (almost poppy). Then for me 2 classics to finish it off. I've always loved Lonely Man, just perfect for me and then the killer ending in Slow Train. Today I'm thinking it's an 8.5 out of 10 album. Tomorrow probably 7.

    It's Quo being heavy-ish, there is a bit too much Lancaster lead vocal and sometimes it feels a little disjointed and I think the fact it hit No'2 and wasn't in the charts as long as Piledriver or Hello suggests others weren't sure either.
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  20. Ma Kelly

    Ma Kelly Forum Resident

    I get the criticism of too many Lancaster vocals, though I don't agree (though I do think him dominating the opening of the Live album sounds a bit bizarre). He doesn't have a vocal on Dog of Two Head nor Hello and only one on Ma Kelly's and Piledrive despite writing loads of songs. Then there's the fact that he never got a single A-side, so to have him dominate Quo just gives him a chance to shine for once in the band's career.
  21. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    1975: On the Level

    1975: Live EP and On the Level

    1. Little Lady (Parfitt) ~ 3:03 L
    2. Most Of The Time (Rossi/Young) 3:22 L
    3. I Saw The Light (Rossi/Young) 3:40 L
    4. Over And Done (Lancaster) 3:55
    5. Nightride (Parfitt/Young) 3:54 L
    6. Down Down (Rossi/Young) 5:25 L
    7. Broken Man (Lancaster) 4:14
    8. What To Do (Rossi/Young) 3:07
    9. Where l Am (Parfitt) 2:45
    10. Bye Bye Johnny (Chuck Berry) 5:21 L



    2016 Deluxe Edition Disc 2:

    7” Single Edit
    1. Down Down [Single Version] (Rossi/Young) 3:51 [also 2005 remaster]
    Live Kursaal Ballroom, Southend 1st March 1975 except Track 3 (Live EP: Tracks 2-4)
    2. Roll Over Lay Down [Live at the Kursaal, 1/3/75] (Rossi/Young/Lancaster/Parfitt/Coghlan) 5:41 [also 2005 remaster]
    3. Gerdundula [Live at Trentham Gardens, Stoke, 2/3/75] (Rossi/Young) 2:35 [also 2005 remaster]
    4. Junior's Wailing [Live at the Kursaal, 1/3/75] (Pugh/White) 3:56 [also 2005 remaster]
    5. Roadhouse Blues (Doors) 12:25 [also 2005 remaster]
    Live Rheingoldhalle, Mainz, Germany 22nd February 1975
    [Junior’s Wailing]
    6. Backwater 4:56
    7. Just Take Me 3:40
    8. Claudie 4:37
    9. Little Lady 3:27
    10. Most Of The Time 3:20
    [Roll Over Lay Down/Big Fat Mama/Don't Waste My Time/Roadhouse Blues/Caroline/Drum Solo]
    11. Bye Bye Johnny 6:35
    Original Writing Demo 1973
    12. Down Down 5:41

    [Tracks marked in square brackets are edited out of the live recording. Underlined tracks should have been included as well IMO]

    [Bob Young – Harmonica on “Roadhouse Blues”]

    The title “On the Level” was a direct reaction to Francis feeling “Quo” had not enough of the melodic pop element; the cover with its confusing Ames Room cover is clever. It’s the only LP of the “classic” run that doesn’t end with an epic, instead they finally recorded the studio version of Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny”, a song that had already closed their concerts in 1971 (and still does today). The general move back towards shorter songs was rewarded with their next #1 album (“Quo” had ‘only’ been #2) and the only #1 single “Down Down”. Personally, while it’s hard to find fault with the album, I feel somewhat lukewarm about it. The album is very heavy, but it somewhat lacks dynamic contrast. Nonetheless, the opening combo “Little Lady”/”Most of the Time” is killer and “Down Down” kicks some ass particular in the longer album version, as does “Bye Bye Johnny”.

    Little Lady: Kicking the doors wide open, Quo decided to use a less subtle intro this time. Frantic guitars and drums explode in a wild break before the boogie machine fires up and Rick sings with utmost intensity. The impression is that of a very tight, locked-in band that effortlessly masters complicated unison riffs in ultra-high speed. But it wouldn’t be a Quo classic if it didn't also contain a laid-back part that then builds up towards Francis’ guitar solo. The nickname “Frantic Four”, whether it was meant positively or not, doesn’t come from nowhere.

    Most of the Time: Same key, and both songs were often played in sequence – but I don't think they are tied together as much as “Backwater” and “Just Take Me”. This track starts out as a contemplative song with Francis’ tentative vocals, before it becomes HEAVY blues. One of the most impressive guitar solo passages in Quo’s catalogue leads into the final chorus (underpinned by John Coghlan’s thundering drum rolls).

    I Saw the Light: This is the first of a couple of songs that I can listen to, but not really love. It’s a catchy shuffly thing with one of those typical Rossi/Young melodies – I know some fans are crazy about it, I'm not.

    Over and Done: That opening riff is typical of this Quo era – it’s a relative of “Down Down”. Actually this was written by Alan Lancaster, but since Francis sings it you could be forgiven for thinking it’s another Rossi/Young one. Well, I think Francis may have had something to do with the track – it’s just too poppy to have been written by Alan alone!

    Nightride: We’re back in heavy territory. Rick and Bob didn't write so many songs together but this is one of their best, I think. There’s a slow, sludgy pace to the track and the rhythm section really shines here (listen to Alan’s bass booming through the mix and John’s cymbals crashing on the fade).

    Down Down: What can I say about this song that hasn’t been said yet? High speed and insanely catchy melody plus great riffs. Francis once said that the beginning of the verse is similar to the riff on “Matchstick Men”. There’s no solo! However, Alan does some interesting things on his bass near the end.

    Broken Man: Here’s another harmless song by Alan, this time also sung by him. One interesting thing is the synth effects at various places. There’s also a breakdown in the middle but it sounds as if they tried to fit the intro of “All the Reasons” into the song and it doesn’t really fit the overall mood IMO.

    What to Do: Of the poppy tracks on this LP this track is my favourite, if only because of the “waffling” intro! You’ve got to be nimble to play those figures that move quickly from one chord to another (which, by the way, is a trademark of Rossi’s lead playing – changing scales according to chords). The rest of the song is less impressive, but we do get another catchy Rossi/Young shuffle chorus.

    Where I Am: I notice that while Rick’s voice opened the album, he’s again severely underrepresented on the platter! At least we get some of his sweet ballad singing here, reminiscent of the early Bee-Gees-influenced material. Combine that with a blues progression and you have an interesting composition. There is no rhythm section here. This is a “breather” inserted before the final franticness follows. (Apparently the LP version is longer than the CD version?!)

    Bye Bye Johnny: Francis never played the intro properly live but he just about managed to get it right here. While it’s a cover and seems like a cop-out after two albums with closing epics, it’s one of the most frantic performances of the band. Listen to the band burning through Chuck Berry’s classic and you know: Don’t mess with Status Quo! (There is an epilogue here, a football crowd – probably FC Liverpool fans – singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, something probably inspired by Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” and adopted by the Quo Army, who used to sing the song live before the band came back for encores.)

    The 2005 remaster was very bright and quite compressed and also contained a mastering fault during “Down Down” (a temporary dulling in one of the channels during the second verse). The latter has been fixed on the 2016 deluxe edition but unfortunately the overall sound is not as good as the previous Andy Pearce remasters because it’s similarly compressed as the 2005 ones. Still, there is a slightly more detailed sound (also on the live tracks) so it’s not a complete disappointment. But given that this was the album where Quo (according to Francis) learned more about production, it could have been a lot better. (Note: Apparently the “5 Classic Albums” version is better – I haven’t heard it.)

    Live EP / Roll Over Lay Down (live): This so-called “thirteenth anniversary EP” (because who celebrates such an anniversary?!) was the first impression of what a live release by Quo could sound like. The band recorded their entire gig at the Kursaal in Southend on March 1, 1975, but in the end only two songs were used on the EP, “Gerdundula” having been recorded one day later at a rehearsal in Stoke. “Roll Over Lay Down” (as the lead track) became another Top 10 hit and the live version not only improves upon the studio version but is probably the definitive recording of this Quo classic. “Junior’s Wailing” served as another reminder of how Alan’s singing had evolved since 1970.

    A powerful (but less playful than e.g. the 1973 version) recording of “Roadhouse Blues” from the same concert later surfaced and was included in the anthology “Rockers Rollin’” and the OTL reissues.

    Since the rest of the recordings were never found by anybody, we got some excerpts from a concert in Mainz – the sound quality is OK (not great like the Southend stuff), but near the end the speed starts to wobble a bit. Also, Rick’s voice isn’t properly recorded, rendering “Little Lady” a near-instrumental…

    (Apparently the original full bootleg contains the timeless line: “This is a radiobroadcast, we can’t let you shouting for an encore for 5 minutes!”)

    Finally, we wind up with a writing (i.e. work-in-progress) demo of “Down Down”, mainly a curiosity, not so much something to listen to for pleasure!
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  22. Ma Kelly

    Ma Kelly Forum Resident

    Where's the dislike button?!
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  23. Ma Kelly

    Ma Kelly Forum Resident

    I think that's more due to Abba's sudden arrival rather than a downturn in Quo's fortunes.
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  24. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I think what makes the matter worse is that he's using the same vocal style on all them. Compare that to songs such as "Blue for You" or "Too Far Gone", where he shows that he's capable of vocal variety. Not saying those songs would have made "Quo" better but something that's a bit less aggressive...
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  25. JulesRules

    JulesRules Forum Resident Thread Starter

    While that's a bit harsh, I also think it's one of the least melodic Quo songs. And Quo aren't the band that works well with putting melodies into other instruments (like, say, early Rush).
    Maybe Abba's arrival and Quo's downturn are connected?

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