Category Archives: Status Quo

Status Quo – Heavy Traffic

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Having recently purchased a copy of this album that is fast approaching its decade anniversary, I thought it time I gave Heavy Traffic by Status Quo a review. The album marked Bob Young’s return to song writing duties for the band for the first time in approx. 22 yearsThis fact is significant as Young has held the joint pen for some of Quo’s great classics, such as “Caroline”.

Overall, the album is viewed amongst Quo fans as being one of, if not the, best album that Quo has released since the reformation of the band in 1986; the close competitors being Under the Influence (1999) and Quid Pro Quo (2011). Allmusic.com claims that the album is the band’s finest since Blue For You (1976) (http://www.allmusic.com/album/heavy-traffic-r609450).

The album is noted for being recorded with all the members of the band playing together in the studio, ‘traditional’ style for the rhythm sections. Using modern studio techniques (and overdubbing, such as Rick’s guitar parts ) the sound quality of the album has not suffered for its live input and it sounds tight and well balanced with the dual tele’s leading the trademark Quo rhythms. Other instruments – notably Bown’s keyboards and organ are spread over the guitars delicately so as not to knock them off of front-and-centre. Both Parfitt and Rossi supply top-notch vocals across the album.

Track List

“Blues and Rhythm” (Bown, Rossi) – A heavy boogie track that must have had the hardcore smiling in 2002! The song is a semi-autobiographical look at someone starting out in a rock band. The song contains a nod towards Quo, with the Marshall Stack and Fender Tele mentioned, and also a nod towards the band’s inspirations; namely ‘that Brown Eyed Handsome Man’: Chuck Berry.

“All Stand Up (Never Say Never)” (Rossi, Young) – Bob Young’s first writing contribution on the album gives rise to a song designed to be concert crowd pleaser. A fast paced boogie-shuffle, the track is a celebration of the weekend and the need to live to party! The song is fast paced and keeps the Quo tradition. The lyrics are light-hearted in nature which perhaps reduces the songs appeal to the hardcore but I say that it is a pleasant enough listen and a track I can enjoy.

“The Oriental” (Edwards, Rossi) – A quirky Quo number that is built around a superb riff created by Francis Rossi and expanded on by John Edwards. Edwards, the bass player for Quo since ’86, claims that this is one of his favourite self-penned songs as it keeps true to the Quo shuffle whilst not being ‘Quo-by-numbers’. This track is awesome live as its open feel, starting with just a bass drum and guitar, helps it to rock and sound different. The lyrics are highly questionable – the song’s downside – and must be tounge-in-cheek. This song is a rocker live and, with hindsight, the studio recording doesn’t manage to live up to the track live.

“Creepin’ Up On You” (Edwards, Parfitt) – “Creepin” is a firm favourite amongst fans – I’ve heard quotes saying that it’s one of tracks that sits best along the band’s output at their peak in the 1970s. The song is a slower shuffle over a bluesy key. The lyrics state how the singer is creeping on the girl who is bound to be his love. For me, this song is a grower, initially I wasn’t keen on the opening riff or the bluesy key, but, as time has gone on, the track has grown on me and I’d now give it 3/5.

“Heavy Traffic” (Edwards, Rossi, Young) -The title track of the album and my personal favourite here also. This song is another boogie-shuffle at a more moderate pace. The lyrics are on fairly central ground, they’re not as a light as “All Stand Up” and not as heavy as others, such as “Creepin Up On You”. This mid-set pace, middle lyrics and an incredibly catchy chorus makes this song my favourite – it’s just a shame that it hasn’t made the live set since 2003!

“Solid Gold” (Rossi, Young) – A ‘Quo-by-numbers’ track that features Bown prominently on harmonica. The track is solid enough (pardon the pun) but nothing special. The lyrics are the singer almost pleading the potential partner to go with them ‘on a wing and a prayer’. I’m not that keen on this track overall as it has a slightly darker feel but I can see it being a favourite among many of the ‘hardcore’.

“Green” (Bown) – An interesting number penned by Andy Bown, the multi-talented member of Status Quo. The song is led by Bown’s Hammond Organ and by acoustic guitars – a marked difference from the usual Quo sound. It reminds me both of “Gerundula” and of Bown’s solo album released nine years later. The lyrics have an environmental concern and speaks of how humankind is turning where we live into ‘a hole in the ground’. This song is definitely a grower and the more I hear it, the more I like it!

“Jam Side Down” (Britten, Dore) – This cut was the publicised single for the album and featured a promotional video filmed aboard HMS Ark Royal. The track itself is at the lighter end of the album – a poppier sounding cut picked as a single to try and please as many potential fans across different genres as possible I guess. I don’t mind this song, I wouldn’t call it a classic Quo track by any stretch but it has a catchy guitar riff and a generally upbeat feel which I like. The lyrics are nothing to write home about though and sound very contrived in places – ‘My bread keeps landing jam side down, say you’ll be there to spread love around’. This is in no small part due to the fact that boogie-rock is not the natural field for Britten and Dore who are more recognised as writing for artists such as Tina Turner and Cliff Richard.

“Diggin’ Burt Bacharach” (Rossi, Young) – A shorter song that has two different tempos within it. The verses have a slower, more open feel and the song kicks into another gear for the choruses. This song I first heard on Francis Rossi’s solo tour and have been a fan ever since. I don’t think it’s custom-made for the Quo faithful but it it’s a good chance for Rossi and Young to show their talents.

“Do It Again” (Bown, Edwards) – An mid-tempo track that argues life is for living and that, if you find something you like you should “Do It Again”! The song is not a highlight of the album for me; it’s not a bad song per se but just nothing special and one I don’t find myself searching for very often.

“Another Day” (Rossi, Young) – The topic of this song is the singer arguing that he needs ‘another day’ to save a relationship that the partner is arguing should be dispensed with. The song is tightly performed and the chorus is catchy. I’d put the track firmly in the middle of the album – not one of my picks but not a song that I’ve taken a dislike to. A song inspired by Francis Rossi telling the Quo manager at the time, David Walker, that he needed ‘another day’ to finish the album.

“I Don’t Remember Anymore” (Bown) – I fun track that is truly belted out by Rick Parfitt! The song speaks of a booze-fueled night out that the singer can no longer remember much about. The lyrics are mostly fun and light hearted although perhaps one could read a darker hint at the Quo singer’s reputation for wild living across his career.

“Money Don’t Matter” (Bonus) (Rossi, Young) – A gentler track that spins out far more choruses than it does verses! The style and songwriting remind of that that Rossi and Young later put towards Rossi’s solo album One Step At A Time.

“Rhythm Of Life” (Rossi, Young) – A slower, bluesy track to see out the album. The lyrics aren’t clear but certainly lamenting in style and lend themselves well to the bluesy feel of the song. A well played track, I don’t know the source of pain for the lyrics – some may argue that they come from points of regret as Rossi looks back across his life – I simply don’t know!

Overall I can fully understand and sympathize with those who argue that Heavy Traffic represents a return to top-form for Status Quo. Right from the opening riffs of “Rhythm and Blues” it’s clear that Quo are on form and intending to rock the way that the fans want them to!

There are plenty of highlights on this album, tracks such as “All Stand Up”, “I Don’t Remember Anymore” and the title track are all what I want to be hearing from the Quo. There has been a lot of talk on the official Quo message boards that the band should consider playing an album in full. I know that, in all reality, the album is not one of the 70s highlights and so wouldn’t register as a possibility – but- if the band ever took this route they’d do worse than to look at Heavy Traffic; and that is some of the best praise I can give.

Status Quo – Heavy Traffic 9/10

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Status Quo – Quid Pro Quo

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.

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