Status Quo : The file series (anthology)
(Pye - 1977)
Category : underrated
Up until the moment I bought this double anthology album somewhere in the early eighties in a second hand store, I always considered Status Quo a mildly interesting, slightly pleasing Boogie Rock band who more or less released different variations of the same song over and over again. I was badly informed. Little did I know they had a far more interesting past as a 60's Psychedelic Pop band. The Status Quo file series, released on Pye records, was a real eye opener for me. One that made me a real fan of their earliest work. Forget 'Roll over lay down', 'Down Down', 'Rockin' all over the World' and those other simple rockers they made in the second half of the seventies and early eighties. Their best material was released in 1970 and the few years before and after that.
The trademark of Status Quo's early work were first and above all the strong vocal melodies and memorable choruses. You were still able to whistle the melodies long after the needle had left the groove. They were clearly very good songsmiths, with a big pop sensitivity.
People who have never heard early Quo, will be horrified to read the following statement: they were so good that I would put them at the same creative height as The Kinks, The Who, The Small Faces and, yes, also The Beatles.
In the Psychedelic Pop/Rock corner, there are songs (some of them were early hits) like 'Green Tambourine', 'Pictures of Matchstick Men', 'Ice in the sun', 'Black Veils of Melancholy', 'Poor old Man', 'Spicks & Specks', 'When my mind is not live', 'Paradise Flats' and 'Face without a soul'. Each one of these is just as good as the best material aformentioned bands ever released. 'Gentlemen Joe's sidewalk Café' wouldn't have been out of place on a Beatles album. 'Lakky Lady' is such an upbeat sounding acoustic package of fun, that it'll make the clouds over your head disappear. With 'Daughter' and 'Mean Girl' we cross into more familiar Bluesy and Boogie territory, but the sound and feel is still more or less bound to the earlier work, which still makes it a lot of fun. And then there's the totally irresistible 'Gerundula', a jumpy sort of Folk song that's bound to bring a smile to your face and that will have you doing a dance that's sillier than anything Ricky Gervais could ever have come up with.
I know I'm probably shouting in the desert now. Those that really know the band have read nothing new here. Those that had only a passing interest in the band, via their hits in the 70's and 80's, probably can't be bothered any more. And to the younger music fans that never even heard the band, these songs are so far in the past that it isn't worth looking them up. But they should, because I can't help but hear many of the elements that were present in the bands that I mentioned here, returning in songs of new bands. Contemporary musicians are clearly still listening to the music of the sixties and the seventies, even if their fans aren't.
Remark: Much of the material on this sampler comes from the album 'Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo'. Apart from 'Elisabeth dreams', 'Sheila' and 'Sunny cellophane skies', the rest on it is indeed excellent, so if you're curious about Quo's early work, get that one, since the Pye file series anthology will be very difficult to find.