earMUSIC [release date 17.08.18]
These albums are the next in line to get the Deluxe Edition reissue treatment which covers the band’s output during the 1980’s. This was a period which saw band members come and go, the ‘End Of The Road’ tour and an opening slot at a small charity gig in 1985 in Wembley Stadium which earned the band a place in rock history.
1+9+8+2 is an album I hold dear. I borrowed a copy of this at the tender age of 14 and played it to death. This was the start of my rock addiction and I can thank this album amongst others for getting me hooked.
Listening back now the album does stand the test of time with ‘She Don’t Fool Me’ and ‘Dear John’ sounding as fresh as ever. I had also forgotten how good some of the other tracks were, ‘Jealousy’ and ‘Young Pretender’ are excellent with great melodies.
The second CD with 1+9+8+2 is mostly made up of recordings from rehearsal sessions with the guys mucking around with various cover versions. The cover versions range from the good to the unbelievably bad, Rick singing ‘Blueberry Hill’ has to be heard, just once though! ****
1983 saw the band release Back To Back and hit the charts hard with a series of singles including ‘Ol Rag Blues’ and ‘Marguerita Time’. This album was the band’s most commercial to date and did cause some consternation among older fans who missed the heavy riffing of the Frantic Four.
However there was a number of great riffs if you persevered like on ‘Can’t Be Done’ and ‘No Contract’ but for some the cry was ‘sell out’ and the chart success reinforced their views.
CD2 contains a mix of singles, album out-takes and extended versions of tracks. One single that makes an appearance here is ‘The Wanderer’ which again raced up the charts peaking at number 7. Another track of note is a version of ‘Ol Rag Blues’ with Alan Lancaster on vocals which is great, I always like Lancaster’s rougher vocals. ***1/2
By the release of the next album In The Army Now Quo had parted company with Alan Lancaster and enlisted John ‘Rhino’ Edwards to the fold. They had also played their farewell tour but we will gloss over that one… This album carried on from ‘Back To Back’ with another four hit singles bothering the charts, the highest being the title track which reached the heady heights of number 2.
This record also found the band experimenting more with keyboards which again got a mixed reaction from the fans, but it was a route they would continue with through to the end of the decade. There are some gems here however like ‘Save Me’ and the country tinged ‘Invitation’.
On CD2 this time you will find B sides, remixes and live tracks. The live tracks are of most interest and include the Quo Cake Mix, a good blues jam and a cracking version of ‘La Grange’ which gives way to ‘Rain’. ***1/2
The deluxe edition of Ain’t Complaining bucks the trend by having 3 CD’s which include a live album recorded in Wembley in July 1988. The original album is interesting as it took Quo into AOR territory with extensive use of synths and electric drums. The track ‘Another Shipwreck’ actually reminds me of an Asia track which is about as far from traditional Quo as you can get.
To be honest I hadn’t heard this album in full until now and I feel I have missed out on a hidden classic in the Quo catalogue. The song writing is excellent and hearing the band stray from the well trodden path is a breath of fresh air. The album is rounded off with ‘Burning Bridges’, a track which continues to feature in the set list today and with good reason.
CD2 contains B sides, remixes, the single ‘Running All Over The World’ and a re-recorded version of ‘Rocking All Over The World’. It is CD3 though which is of more interest as it features the afore mentioned Wembley live set. Any Quo live album featuring ‘Hold You Back’ and ‘Dirty Water’ is a winner in my book. There are a couple of ‘Ain’t Complaining’ tracks on the album as well with ‘Cream Of The Crop’ being exactly that.
The 80’s were a transitional time for music and Status Quo moved with the times with varying degrees of success. Given the turmoil the band went through during this period the fact that they came out almost intact and produced so many hits is something of a miracle! ****
Review by Dave Wilson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
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