Quid Pro Quo ends the longest wait for a new Quo album since the legendary band’s first hit in1969, following on four years after 2007’s In Search Of The Fourth Chord. It marks a return to Quo recording duties for frontman, Francis Rossi, after his solo album One Step At A Time. Prior to the album’s release a charity single, In The Army Now 2010, and a free download, Rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ you, were released with the latter generating much interest in the Quo community. Over the years since the reformation of the band in 1986 (and quite possibly prior to that!) there has been much consternation in the Quo fan community about the quality of the band’s output and various debates have raged regarding the sorts of tracks the band has laid down and whether some members of the band are up to the job. Therefore, watching the debates that raged about whether this album was the long-awaited ‘return to form’ did not surprise me. The going rumour prior to release was that this would be the most rocking Status Quo album in years.
The album, when it arrived, did not disappoint on its promise. There is rock in abundance here! The overall sound is generally what you’d expect from Quo. In comparing it to In Search Of The Fourth Chord I notice that is a little more of a echo soak here but this may just be taking the edge off of the years on vocal. However, as a counter to that, it should be noted that in terms of vocal performance this albums blows its predecessor out of the water. It feel like Rossi and Parfitt had more fun recording this album and some of Parfitt’s vocals in particular are top class.
Two Way Traffic – A fast paced standard rock song and one that has proved popular with many on the message boards since the album’s release. The chorus is quite catchy but the song as a whole isn’t really my thing – I like the Quo boogie shuffle or pop happy sounds and this isn’t really that.
Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ You – This track, released for free download prior to release, is an archetypal Quo track, with the unmistakable rhythm of boogie-shuffle. The track is likeable if not spectacular, the lyrics are nothing to write home about and the solo is a tad short but generally the track is OK and I have often found myself humming the chorus under my breath.
Dust To Gold – Very popular among many of the fans but this track does very little for me. It starts off with an almost psychedelic return but overall this echo covered song just doesn’t move me – I’ll admit that I just don’t ‘get’ this one.
Let’s Rock – This song marks the first single from Rick Parfitt since 1980’s “Don’t Drive My Car”. This track really belts along well and, even if the lyrics aren’t anything too special, the vocals from RP are absolutely stonkin’! A highlight on the album and a real feel-good track – you can’t be down listening to this!
Can’t See For Looking – A nice little track about persuading a girl that the singer is the man she “Can’t See For Looking”. Some of the lyrics are a tad stretched but I don’t go to Quo for the deep and meaningful as a rule!
Better Than That – If there is one thing this album specialises in, it’s catchy choruses! This track delivers the same! I don’t think it’s one I’ll listen to much as around the chorus the rest of the track doesn’t really appeal.
Movin On – This kicks off with a killer riff – one of the best on the album. This is a fast paced rocker with a hint of shuffle in the guitar. I really enjoy the country-rock choruses in this one. A good track that has grown on me the more I listen to it.
Leave A Little Light On – An absolute favourite on the album for me and definitely one of the most listened to since I’ve got my hands on the album. The chorus is insanely simple but also insanely catchy! Rick’s tracks are storming on the album and it sounds like both Rick and Francis had much more fun on Quid Pro Quo than they did on In Search Of The Fourth Chord.
Any Way You Like It– A mid-paced Rossi light rocker. This has the lighter Rodney Crowell/ John Fogerty feel in the verses. Some fans love this sort of stuff, some don’t. I’m take-it-or-leave-it on this track. It’s not bad but it’s not my favourite on the album by some length.
Frozen Hero – This is an interesting track with a very 1980s feel to it for me. This includes the huge intro and fast guitar picking bringing the track. Another more general rocker rather than the trade-mark Quo shuffle – an interesting track and perhaps Quo’s chance to step outside the stereotype in a slightly different direction.
Reality Cheque – A slow boogie-shuffle sung by Rick Parfitt, the subject is having a “Reality Cheque” on a relationship that’s going downfall. This track gives a nice change of pace on the album and partly for that reason this is a definite hit with me.
The Winner – A Rossi track that stands out for its chorus (notice that before!) and also a ‘da-da-da’ ending in a similar vein to “Hey Jude”. This could be a real winner (pardon the pun!) played live with the ‘Loyal Family’ joining in the chorus and the ‘da-da-da’s!
It’s All About You – Another track that’s growing on me. This has the boogie shuffle and light sprinkling of Andy Bown’s harmonica thrown in for good measure. The solo itself is pretty good but the riff after some of the choruses I’m not too keen on.
My Old Ways – A fast paced boogie shuffle. This track is quite quirky but it really appeals to me! It’s generally upbeat and I like that in Quo music and this could rapidly build to be a favourite for me.
In The Army Now (2010) – A recut of the Quo classic from 1986 with some more pro-army lyrics! Recorded as a charity track for the Help The Heroes campaign.
Overall I like this album. It’s an interesting comparison to In Search Of The Fourth Chord. On that album there are fewer tracks that I liked but those I did, such as “Beginning Of The End”, I thought were outstanding. On Quid Pro Quo there are fewer tracks that I think are outstanding but I like the album in general more. Quid Pro Quo is a range of tracks aimed at pleasing a substantial portion of the Quo fan base with its almost relentless rock. Something of a ballad or a real slow blues number might have been good to vary the album further but overall this is a good album and can be put on to Quo away the day!
Status Quo Quid Pro Quo – 8/10
Article first published as Music Review: Status Quo – Quid Pro Quo on Blogcritics.