Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist... Published author (https://www.amazon.com/Sins-Fathers-S-Gepp-ebook/dp/B07XBDP2RF/) & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published April 30th 2019
Suzi Q is back
Since I started this column, I have been waxing lyrical about the sheer number of great female artists releasing albums (see Amy Shark and Laura Imbruglia for two fine examples). Well, in my opinion, they might well not have got the chance if another female hadn't broken the mould and stepped into the spotlight in the early 1970s.
Suzi Quatro is a woman who came to define female-led rock, who played an instrument and sang, and could out-do the males time and time again. Her string of hit singles was like a soundtrack to a great movie you wished you'd lived. My favourite, for what it's worth, is 'Rock Hard' from 1980. Just sayin'.
Anyway, in March of this year (2019), Suzi Quatro released a new album called No Control. And, here's the sad part, the only reason I knew about it is because a mate told me. He knows I'm a bit of a fan (my favourite Midsomer Murders episode features Suzi as guest victim of the week), as is he (he fell in love with her courtesy of Happy Days), and he was quite excited about the news. Well, I couldn't resist, so I found a place to get it and, now, 3 weeks later, it's arrived and I listened to it. It turns out, she made this album because her son, Richard Tuckey, wanted to make a record and write songs with his mother. Well, I, for one, am glad he did because this is the result.
Well, as is the norm, I only review stuff here I like, so you know I like this album. And, I tell you what, the lady still has "it". She belies her age and belies the fact this is one of barely a handful of albums she's released in the past 20 years to produce an album that truly rocks.
Man, I love this album!
We open with the first single 'No Soul/No Control' and what a way to start! This thumps along from the word go, all guitars and drums and Suzi's awesome voice. And the lyrics are an affirmation of someone standing up to all the crap thrown at them and not buckling. Ostensibly a break-up song, it could well apply to so much else.
'Going Home' is a blues-styled number, in that chugging 70s style which is drenched in guitars and feels like it would not have been out of place on a 1974 album. I mean that in a good way, by the way.
Horns punctuate 'Strings' in a nice change of pace. And that piano and string section middle eight is wonderful. And Suzi's voice is wonderful, sounding like it should be coming from someone 30 years younger.
'Love Isn't Fair' continues with the horn section, and has a sort of calypso feel to it, like early 80s Blondie. Song is okay.
Then we get 'Macho Man', which sounds like the Suzi Quatro of old. It's like a call-back to those old songs from the 70s she created, but I still like it. The guitar works well, and her voice is right there. Which is good, because when I saw the track listing, I hoped it wasn't (a) a cover of the Village People song, or (b) a tribute to Randy Savage (actually, that last one might have been singularly awesome...).
That is followed by 'Easy Pickings', a harmonica-led blues track. Very cool indeed, laid-back and mellow.
Things slow down for 'Bass Line', a power ballad about, I think, the bass guitar. While that is intriguing in itself, if it's a metaphor, it was lost on me. Still, I quite liked the song, and it even has a bass solo in it!
'Don't Do Me Wrong' is up next, a slightly dirtier blues number, again with the harmonica, and a piano that keeps it all together. One of my favourites on the album.
'Heavy Duty' is a decent rocker, this time with the saxophone that was such an obligatory part of 1980s rock. It would not be out of place in some 1985 teenage coming of age comedy (you know, the sort of film I write about here and like way too much to be healthy).
'I Can Teach You To Fly' is next, and this has an almost 60s feel to it. When it started, I had flashbacks to 'Elenore' by The Turtles (or 'The Way You Used To Do' by QOTSA), but this song is a song all its own. It definitely harks back to the 1960s, and this is my favourite track on the album. I like the lyrics and the music is wonderful, with a great guitar solo, and Suzi's voice sounds like she is having fun. Great track.
We finish with 'Going Down Blues', which, while not a bad song, is a sort of Commitments-lite style of blues music and is probably my least favourite track. Maybe it falls in comparison to the track it follows, but I think the horns over-power the song too much. This would have been better as a harmonica-guitar-drums track. (In my opinion; but I'm a struggling writer what do I know of music?) What saves it, though, is that last 50 seconds of glorious, fun-filled, frenetic playing. And that is the sound that ends the album everyone having fun.
This is such a great album. Much like Ace Frehley, the "old guard" is coming up with some superb pieces of new material. I really hope this gets a good reception because it deserves it, and is better than a lot of so-called rock music that is being released by younger bands today.
Ms Quatro in 2007
What's sad is that most radio stations who play rock will hear that Suzi Quatro has a new album and then go, "To celebrate this, let's play 'Devil Gate Drive'!" Play the new stuff! It's awesome! And they wonder why radio is a dying format
So, heartily recommended. Really good album from one of the finest ladies in rock.