The idea of reducing rock ‘n’ roll down to it’s trashy core pulse, and playing it at extreme volume is often credited to the Ramones, who had the right nihilistic attitude, the right funny lyrics, happened to arrive in the middle of a thriving art and music scene, and were loudly talked up by music journlists who love nothing more than a conceptual joke which also happens to rock hard.
However, without meaning to take anything away from the achievements of Johnny, Dee Dee and co, we Brits had our own back-to-basics numbskull rock band, who’d been scoring big hits for years by the time the Ramones came into being.
Status Quo were formed from the ashes of a beat group called the Spectres, by school friends Francis Rossi (vocals, guitar) and Alan Lancaster (bass, vocals) in the mid ’60s, having brought in drummer John Coghlan, they then drafted Rick Parfitt (guitar, blond) just as their first hit, the psychedelic “Pictures of Matchstick Men” was taking off, and this line-up (plus soon-to-depart organist Roy Lynes) enjoyed a brief flare of pop success, but struggled to keep it going as the psychedelic era stalled and ran out of steam. The years after the big hit single were lean at first, until they hit upon the driving one-chord boogie of the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and set about gussying it up to their own ends.
The result was this unflinching monolithic noise, but with a swung backbeat: a throwback to early rock ‘n’ roll and yet entirely in keeping with the supercharged blues of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. They spent the rest of the ’70s trying to use this sound to blow the faces off their own fans.
Here’s the band in 1975, blamming out their No.1 hit (over in the UK at least) “Down Down.”
John Coghlan left in 1981. Alan Lancaster sued Francis and Rick for continuing the band without him in 1985, the same year they opened the show at the London end of Live Aid, with their supercharged chugalong version of John Fogerty’s “Rockin’ All Over The World.” Since then Francis and Rick have kept Quo spirit alive while Alan and John have had to content themselves with the memories of their glory years, like former prize-fighters.
Except now they’re all getting back together for a new documentary film, directed by Alan Parker (who also directed The Commitments and Bugsy Malone, so he knows all about temperamental musicans). Hello Quo is due for release in October, and will feature the first jam session the four key Quo players had in over twenty-five years.
According to the Daily Mirror (who also have the reunion shot), it all went very well. Which is perhaps not the kind of story a music journalist would like, but a welcome one for fans nonetheless.
Oh and if the film is anything like as good as Julien Temple’s wonderful Oil City Confidential, the retelling of the story of the Essex rhythm and blues band Dr Feelgood, it’ll be doing very well indeed.Read More