Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published September 23rd 2019
Down to one original member, yet still Status Quo
I don't mind a bit of Quo in my life. The old classics get cranked too loud too often, and I even like the oft-derided 'Anniversary Waltz' medleys. I don't know everything they've released, I don't keep track of their comings and goings, but they are a band I will quite happily listen to.
And then I heard that Rick Parfitt, one of the two who formed the core of the band, died. Well, I thought, that's it Status Quo can't go on.
Imagine my surprise when I heard that Francis Rossi, the other half of that core duo, was releasing a new Status Quo album. Without Rick? How? That's almost sacrilegious! I told myself I wasn't going to bother. But I heard a single from the new album and damn! if it didn't sound pretty damn good.
And so I bought Backbone by Status Quo.
Okay, let's get this out the way first it does not sound quite like the Status Quo of those classic songs. My first thought was that it almost sounds like a tribute band, but one performing originals. That is completely unfair. For and this is a pretty big "for" if you ignore the fact this is an album by "Status Quo", this is a good, old-fashioned rock and roll album, the sort they just do not make enough of any longer.
I should point out I went for the "Deluxe/Limited Edition" set with two bonus tracks. Why? Because, as those who read enough of my stuff here know, that's what I do. Hey, let's get into this album!
'Waiting For A Woman' And we start with one of those songs that Quo fans know a driving beat that does not vary a great deal. However, this track feels a little subdued; it lacks the "oomph" we've come to expect from Quo over the years. Even the guitar solo feels muted. Not a bad song, but not a brilliant opener.
'Cut Me Some Slack' This is better! This sounds like Quo, chugging along in their down-to-earth boogie style. I found my head bobbing back and forth listening to it; it gets into you and does not let go once it's there. Very cool indeed.
'Liberty Lane' Let's keep it going! I like this one even better than the previous track. The voice harmonies work a little better, and there is something that feels like a sense of fun in the way it is played. I can just imagine a crowd screaming along to: "Waiting for the bell to ring!" A real album highlight.
'I See You're In Some Trouble' Another really good track, with a slightly different sort of style to the preceding tracks. Quo were always accused of being a one-trick pony (as a classic comedy sketch from Alas Smith & Jones said so blatantly), but even though they are playing straight-ahead rock, the tracks do not sound the same. Another highlight here.
'Backing Off' And we're back to that Quo formula, but done really well. Another track with a chorus that seems destined to be a concert sing-along. The singing here is really good, and the guitar playing has enough change-ups to not fall into that trap of being 'typical'. As you can tell, this is yet another album highlight.
'I Wanna Run Away With You' This is probably the closest on this album that classic Quo sound from the 1970s. That is not a bad thing, by the way. Another good track.
'Backbone' This is the track that convinced me this was going to be good. On the surface, the title track is saying that you can live through anything if you fight hard enough. But I also feel like it's a not-too-subtle middle finger to those who said without Parfitt, there was no Status Quo (as the writer puts his hand up sheepishly). This is a great song, and the lyrics are really strong: "But when push comes down to shove/ It's time to fight back/ Yes I've tried it/ And it fits me like a glove "
'Better Take Care' Do my ears deceive me, or is there a hint of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the playing on this rather cool track? A pleasant surprise in a great little track. Best guitar solo on the album as well. Another highlight.
'Falling Off The World' This has a sound reminiscent of classic Quo, and falls into that Smith & Jones caricature. Not a bad track, but it's just there.
'Get Out Of My Head' Now we amp it up with some full-on Quo boogie. A fine solo and some great harmonies and we have yet another highlight!
'Running Out Of Time' An okay track to finish. Feels a little less after the rest of the album, but, again, it is not a bad track by any stretch
That is the album proper. So now we have the two bonus tracks.
'Crazy Crazy' A country tinged track! This is different and a decent number that had my head moving again. Cool.
'Face The Music' And we finish with another typical Quo sound, but with some of that lyrical repetition that makes for such a crowd-pleaser in concert. And not a bad way to finish, not at all.
Yep, I admit it my pre judgmental attitude was completely misguided. In a year where the old rockers are coming back as strong as ever, Status Quo stands there proudly with the best of them. This is not the Status Quo of old and after 50 years, how could it be? but it is an album worthy of the Status Quo name. To be honest, there were very few occasions when Parfitt's absence was really noticeable; the new Quo has made this sound their own and are running with it.
I don't mind saying I was wrong when what I am presented with is this fine. Parfitt apparently gave his blessing to Quo continuing after his death; on this evidence, his instincts were correct.
This is a fine release, and proof that if the formula ain't broke, you don't need to fix it: just tweak it a little.