Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Status Quo - The Best Of (1973)

(U.K 1962 - Present)
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Status Quo are an English rock band whose music is characterized by their distinctive brand of boogie rock.
The group originated in The Spectres, founded by schoolboys Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster in 1962. After a number of lineup changes, the band became The Status Quo in 1967 and Status Quo in 1969. They have had over 60 chart hits in the UK, the most recent being in 2010, which is more than any other rock group, 22 of which reached the UK Top Ten. In 1991, Status Quo received a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music and are still touring today.  For a full biography of the band, see my earlier post 'The Rest Of Status Quo' which is actually the second of a pigeon pair release made by PYE records, and this being the first.
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Status Quo 1970 (L to R): Rossi-Parfitt-Coughlan-Lancaster-Lynes

The Status Quo Image
"We had a lot of faith in ourselves, but we had to turn our back on this pop thing," says Parfitt. "Fifty to sixty girls down the front screaming: fantastic, but we knew it weren't gonna last. But we knew we were good, we knew we had some thing, so we decided to literally heavy things up. We came off the road in 1969 and we went back to just wearing jeans, T-Shirts and pumps".
By the turn of the decade, Quo were slowly becoming visually and musically more recognizable, but there was still a spot of stagecraft to be learnt.
"We were really going places now - we were playing what we wanted to play, we were wearing what we wanted to wear and we were getting genuine reaction from the people" says Rossi.
"It was thirty or forty in the crowd one night, then fifty or sixty the next time. We felt we had a purpose and it was going somewhere. That was one of the joys of those days. When you're struggling, it's definitely you against the world and it galvanized you and you could feel it was growing and growing."
"The change was pretty black and white. You could see it in people's faces when we took to the stage. They looked at each other as if to say: 'Is this the same "Matchstick Men" band?' But at that point we didn't care; we were like, either fucking like it, or piss off," says Parfitt. "We went the complete opposite, with the long hair, ripped jeans and pumps. It got to the point where we used to buy the filthiest, most disgusting jeans from people in the street. If we spotted someone with a really beaten-up, nasty-looking pair of jeans at a show, we used to try to buy them from them. Some of the pairs we had were hideous - smelly and dirty and everything."
"I mean, you can call it a classic look now, but back then what we were aiming for, I suppose, was something that was the complete opposite of having an image," adds Rossi.
"The Castle in Tooting was a real heads' gig. Greatcoat, pint, album under your arm, sitting on the floor. It was the first time we'd played to an audience that was sitting down on the floor. We were thinking, Blimey, this is weird. The stage was only three inches high, but I remember the audience being down there. You had to get down to the audience - and that's how the legs apart, head down thing happened," recalls Parfitt. "And they were all nodding their heads, so we thought, Do the same, copy the audience - you can't go wrong. We only looked up between numbers."
"We call it the attack stance. In the early days we used to play these halls that had stages at the end of them and the crowd used to sit down cross-legged on the floor while we were playing our set," Parfitt adds. "The thing was, because they were sitting down and we were up high on the stage, we felt so far away from our audience. We started to lean forward and move our legs apart in a simple effort to get closer to our fans. We didn't want to be so far away, so the stance was born."
"It's just a great thing to nod your head on stage," says Rossi. "We just put our heads together. Funny, 'cos someone said to me, That's a good gimmick', but it's nothing like that at all. When we first did it, completely by accident, we got such a buzz off it, it had to be done again. We didn't suddenly say, 'Oh well, we'd better start standing in line shaking our hair'. It's gradually grown from the days when we just stood there nodding our heads and tapping our feet.... Once our heads start nodding, you know we're away."
"We've often whacked one another," says Parfitt. "Once I had to follow France around the stage for five minutes because me [guitar] pegs were knotted up in his hair. The roadies had to untangle us halfway through a number. I nearly pulled half his scalp out! We've fallen over a lot, too. We call that 'getting our wings'. I remember years ago doing a small youth club. We'd just gone on and the kids were going mad. France went dashing across the stage, turned round, fell off the stage and knocked himself out. Quite funny as it happens."
By early 1970 Quo had to capture this new sound and image for vinyl.
The look was easy - don't shave. "When it came to doing the photo for Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon, we knew about it in advance," says Rossi. "We drove, did a gig, didn't wash. Did the next night's gig, didn't wash or shave, drove to London overnight. It had to look like that. It was a total rejection of all that 'press your trousers, make sure your makeup's right'. From then on, I'd always shave at night, so there'd be a bit of stubble the next morning."
The sound was best nailed on "Down the Dustpipe", written by Valley Music's Carl Grossman. It also represented a welcome return to the charts, spending 17 weeks there and peaking at No. 12.
"It was a word-of-mouth hit," says Bob Young, who provided the track's lusty harmonica. "It only got anywhere by people coming to gigs and telling their friends, and them asking for it. It proved to us that some people were enjoying the band, no matter how unfashionable we were supposed to be."
So prevalent was Young that Rossi later quipped: "He's made four TV appearances in one week. It's all very flash. I think we're gonna pack in playing and send Bob out on his own to do the gigs."
"There's nothing terribly involved," adds Rossi. "The lead guitar does things and then there's this riff. We did it in fifteen minutes in two takes. The first take was really miserable - really good - and it would have been fantastic except that something went wrong and there were a few giggles. It was a choker really. It spoiled the misery."
Although the track was not selected for Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon it was very much in the style of the album, which also featured numerous live favourites and "Junior's Wailing", a track that became synonymous with the Quo sound throughout the Seventies as the opening anthem at their concerts.
Live, too, Quo were making a noise, particularly at the pop festivals of the early Seventies.
"We did a whole spate of those festivals," says Rossi. "There was Weeley, Lincoln and the Reading Festival. I remember the one that had the most profound effect on me was the Lincoln Festival. We tore the audience apart. It was serious, you know? When we went on at Weeley, it was about nine in the morning. We went on and when we looked out there, there was just this sea of coats over people's heads. They were just kipping down. They were actually sleeping where they were sat. So I thought, I'm not fucking having this' and went 'Oi, wake up' and did one of those things of, 'We're going to make a noise for a while, and just hope that some of you like it'. Those three festivals were the whole turning point for the band. I have no idea why, but they were. They were great reactions."
Although Ma Kelly and the subsequent album Dog of Two Head -named by roadie Paul "Slug" Lodge after the equipment van - failed to chart, the sound was right, the image - or non-image - was honed and the live audience was growing. [extract from Status Quo - Just Doin' It by Bob Young, Cassell Illustrated, 2006. p31-32]
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This album is another Pye compilation (tracks taken from 'Dog Of Two Head' and 'Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon'), which was made up of songs not already included on Pye's earlier compilations released under the Golden Hour Series (which I plan to post at a later date). The album was later re-pressed on the Astor label and it is this pressing that I own and present here.
It is interesting to note that the track "April Spring Summer & Wednesdays" appears both on this this album and the The Rest Of Status Quo - a duplication by mistake perhaps?
It is also worth noting that their hit single "Down The Dustpipe" and the single "Tune To The Music" were never released on any of their studio albums.
This posts consists of a fresh MP3 rip (320kps) taken from my precious vinyl copy and has had some bass enhancement applied. Full album artwork is included along with the band photos featured above, mostly taken from Status Quo - Just Doin' It by Bob Young, Cassell Illustrated, 2006.
Overall, this album is a great precursor to their finest LP's - namely Piledriver, Hello, Quo and On The Level.
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Tracklisting
01. Down the Dustpipe *
02. Gerdundula
03. In My chair *
04. Umleitung
05. Lakky Lady
06. Daughter
07. Railroad
08. Tune To The Music
09. April Spring Summer & Wednesdays
10. Mean Girl
11. Spinning Wheel Blues


Status Quo are:
Mike Rossi (Lead Guitar, Acoustic 
Guitar, Vocals)
Richie Parfitt (Second Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vocals)
Alan Lancaster (Bass, Electric Guitar)
John Coughlan (Drums, Percussion)
* Roy Lynes (keyboards)

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Best Of Status Quo Link (100Mb) New Link 15/11/2015
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