Rhino/Warners [Release date 20.10.14]
It may have taken 50 years, but Aquostic finally showcases the Quo “unplugged” with rearrangements of many standards and some surprises too.
Maybe this album will ultimately take Rick and Francis back to the small clubs where they started. There is an element of re-tracing steps here but what ‘Aquostic’ does is confirm that you can’t beat a damn good song with a catchy melody.
‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ sounds more convincing than the original whilst capturing its basic psychedelic sixties charm and it is given special treatment with a fine string arrangement. The same applies to an excellent rendition of ‘Mystery Song’.
It’s the strings that make these songs really shine and along with the more familiar – ‘Down The Dustpipe’, ‘Caroline’, ‘Down Down’, ‘Whatever You Want’ amongst them – the band have also included some less visited material that was thought appropriate for this reinvention.
So ‘And It’s Better Now’ gets a new lease of life (and is the first single) along with songs like ‘All The Reasons’ (Piledriver) and ‘Reason For Living’ (Hello).
Throughout, there is a Stealer’s Wheel or Medicine Head vibe which is frankly a million miles from Quo’s usual three chord thrust, and the release is firmly juxtaposed with the glut of recent live material. In that sense, Quo have been the gift that keeps on giving for fans in recent years.
It’s hard to fathom Quo’s infamous spat with the BBC about airplay in the late-1990s (although relating specifically to Radio 1). But Quo get the last laugh, because ‘Aquostic’ emphasises that good tunes always win out in the end, and that Quo will still be played long after more ephemeral fodder has had its barely-fifteen-minutes of fame. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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