Tag Archives: Status Quo

Status Quo rock band

The first seven rock records I ever owned

With music-loving parents rock music had always been in the background growing up. By my early teens I’d begun taping a few things off my dad when I first got a portable tape recorder. But these are the first albums that I actually owned.

ONE – AC/DC – Highway To Hell

My dad had been an early adopter as far as AC/DC were concerned, buying High Voltage not long after it was released in the UK and playing it pretty much constantly as I recall. Highway to Hell came out in 1979 and not only did my dad have a copy but my older stepsister had one, too. By 1981, though, she was getting far more into punk and so gifted me her copy. My first rock album – and what an absolute classic to start off with.

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TWO – Status Quo – Never Too Late

Not the greatest Quo album but a good solid album and a great cover of ‘Somethin’ Bout You Baby I Like’ which had made the top ten. I was already a confirmed Quo fan when the album was released in March 1981, just in time for my fifteenth birthday in May – thanks Mum!

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THREE – Slade – We’ll Bring The House Down

Another fifteenth birthday present (thanks Dad!). I’d been aware of Slade in the early 70s, of course, but by the time I was a teenager they’d virtually disappeared off the radar completely. But I remember watching Top Of The Tops when Slade burst on the screen with their brilliantly raucous comeback single ‘We’ll Bring The House Down’. I asked for the album for my birthday and a life-long devotion to all things Slade followed. Not Slade’s most famous album by a long stretch, but in terms of making an impact on a youthful Darren perhaps the most significant album I ever owned.

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FOUR: Deep Purple – In Rock

A friend at school sold me this second-hand. He decided he was a punk not a metalhead and this was therefore surplus to requirements so I bought it off him for 50p. A true classic album, I loved (and still do) the combination of Jon Lord’s eerily atmospheric Hammond, Ritchie Blackmore’s manic guitar wizardry and Ian Gillan’s deranged screaming. Deep Purple had been defunct for several years by this time but this was an indication that I would be dipping back into the back catalogues of the previous decade for many of my subsequent musical purchases over the coming years.

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FIVE: Whitesnake – Ready an’ Willing

Bought from a record shop in Southport while I was in a youth theatre project this album immediately impressed – with one unforgettable tune after another. Just a few weeks later Whitesnake, along with AC/DC and Slade, would be one of the first bands I ever saw – live at the Donington Monsters of Rock festival.

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SIX – Status Quo – Whatever You Want

I remember getting this from the local newsagents where they had a small rack of cut-price LPs amongst all the magazines and sweets. I bought it mainly for the title track and ‘Living On An Island’ but this became an album I played loads.

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SEVEN – Rainbow – Down To Earth

Another bargain, this is one I got cheap from a mail-order company. I had already taped my dad’s copies of ‘Rising’ and ‘Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow’ by this time and was a fan of Ronnie James Dio’s vocals but I also really warmed to the more commercial rock of the Graham Bonnet-fronted Rainbow, too. Still a really great album and still one of my favourites.

I took this (along with my recently-purchased Ready an Willing and Whatever You Want) to a party in the summer of 81 and they all got a bit scratched and battered, sadly. It was an early lesson in why you should not take records to parties – but, with any luck, hopefully someone would be inventing the CD for me in a couple of year’s time….

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So that was my first bunch of albums. Many, many hundreds more would follow over the years. But, looking back, I feel fairly nostalgic thinking about how it all started for me and, if I may so myself, not a bad choice of albums at all….

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Which have been your favourite band reunions?

Seven spectacular reunion gigs

The communal celebration of a band’s legacy, the return of a classic sound and unforgettable songs, the emotional resonance of seeing members sharing a stage again after many years apart; there can be something very,very special about reunion gigs of your favourite bands. As the reunited line-up of Ozzy, Geezer and Tony prepare to play their final Black Sabbath show I look back on some pretty special band reunions. In no particular order, here are seven spectacular reunions I’ve been lucky enough to witness in recent years.

1. Black Sabbath 2014 and 2017 – Truly one of the great reunions of modern times, even without original drummer Bill Ward. Back in 2014 when Sabbath played Hyde Park I wrote ‘Osbourne’s ups and downs have certainly been well-documented and Iommi has been undergoing debilitating bouts of chemotherapy over the past two years. All of that is a world away from tonight’s performance, however, and the band members are all blisteringly on form. They commence with a stunning version of War Pigs and one by one the classics are reeled off: Snowblind, Fairies Wear Boots, Iron Man. The sound is great. The guitars, drums and vocals are everything you would want at a Sabbath gig.’ When dates were announced for The End tour I had zero hesitation in snapping up a ticket. Reviews from 2014 here and from 2017 here.

2. Status Quo ‘Frantic Four’ 2013 and 2014 – Although Status Quo continued to fill arenas each year, there was something very special and very emotional about seeing the classic ‘frantic four’ line-up of Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi walk on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo after a 32-year absence. The earthy, rocky, bluesy brand of boogie they played that night was quite different from the keyboard-heavy pop-rock act that normally tours under the Quo banner these days and the crowd were absolutely ecstatic. Sadly, following the tragic death of Rick Parfitt, it’s something that can never be repeated now, but I was lucky enough to see them on both the original reunion tour in 2013 and the follow-up a year later. Here’s my review from 2014.

3. Mott The Hoople 2009 and 2013 – I have loved Mott The Hoople ever since discovering one of their albums second-hand as teenager in the early 80s. And although I’d seen Ian Hunter solo before I was amazed to open the Guardian guide one Saturday morning and see an advert for a Mott The Hoople reunion at the Hammersmith Apollo with all the original members, 35 years after the bands demise. Although alzheimer’s was beginning to take its toll on drummer Dale Griffin he joined the band for the encores in 2009. Hugely emotional, it was a glorious celebration of a criminally under-rated band and remains one of my favourite gigs of all time and remains a text-book case of how to pull off a reunion with dignity, style, emotion and meaning. I saw the band again at the O2 when the reunion (sans Griffin) was repeated four years later. The sad deaths of both Dale Griffin and bass-player Overend Watts in the past year remind us how privileged Mott fans were to get their long-awaited reunion when they did.

4. Beach Boys 2012– While I’d seen a couple of stunning solo shows from Brian Wilson, I’d never been at all tempted by the Mike Love-fronted band that continued to tour under the Beach Boys name. But when it was announced that the surviving Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks) would be re-uniting to celebrate the band’s fiftieth anniversary I snapped up tickets for friends and family as soon as they went on sale. A mega run-through of Beach Boys hits, a gloriously full sound (aided by musicians from Brian Wilson’s musically brilliant touring band) and a beautifully authentic-sounding new studio album, too, this was definitely a reunion not to be missed. Al Jardine’s voice was particularly outstanding still.

5. Blur 2009 and 2015 – Blur’s Hyde Park reunions have become something of a tradition. I saw the first in 2009 and although I missed the one for the 2012 Olympics I did see them again in 2015. ‘The crowd is hugely good natured and it’s very much a communal celebration in Hyde Park. These songs have stood the test of time and are rightly held in great affection, as are the band who play them’ is what I wrote at the time. My full review from 2015 here.

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6. Fotheringay 2015‘Sandy Denny was the finest British female singer-songwriter that ever lived. Fotheringay was the short-lived band she formed in 1970 on leaving Fairport Convention. It lasted less than a year, but forty-five years on the surviving members have reformed for a short tour and are playing their first London gig since 1970. Band reunions can elicit mixed reactions and some questions went through my mind on this one. However talented the remaining musicians are, would this be a worthwhile exercise with the band’s two main front-people, Sandy Denny and her husband Trevor Lucas, long since deceased? As soon as the band come on stage, though, and open with Nothing More, the opening number on the original Fotheringay album, all doubts are set aside.’ Full review here.

7. The Kinks (well Ray and Dave) 2015 – Who knows if there’ll ever be a Kinks reunion. I did, however, catch a solo gig of Dave Davies in Islington back in 2015 with a very nice surprise at the end. Here’s what I wrote at the time: ‘Of course, when he came back on for an encore we could all guess absolutely what the song was going to be. What we couldn’t guess, though, was who would be joining him for that final song. “A surprise for Christmas!” announced Dave and on walked his brother Ray, the two of them sharing a stage together for the first time in 19 years. The audience as one are hit with amazement and wonderment at this beautiful and unexpected moment in rock’n’ roll history. Ray was in fine voice as he sang You Really Got Me and Dave cranked up the guitar. The audience went wild. Excitement, joy and genuine emotion as that 2 minutes and 14 seconds of one of the greatest rock’n’roll songs of all time blasted out from the stage.’ Full review here.

Of course, there are some band reunions I would love to see if ever they were so inclined (Gillan, Supergrass, the surviving members of the Byrds) and there is one I would have loved to have seen happen more than anything (Slade) but the possibility of that seems ever more remote with each passing year. However, I do feel genuinely lucky to be present at each of those moments described above.

Which have been your favourite musical reunions and which bands would you like to see re-unite?

 

Status Quo – Aquostic at Hammersmith Apollo 26/4/15

Status Quo are a band that stopped worrying about critical acclaim and musical credibility long, long ago. After the band’s 70s/early 80s peak we’ve seen cringe-worthy covers albums, sing-along football songs, bizarre collaborations with the Beach Boys; in fact you name it, they’ve tried it. Even the well-received reunion of their classic 70s line-up in 2013  was immediately followed by a completely unfunny mafia comedy film set on a tropical island.

So the idea of a Status Quo acoustic album and tour could be dismissed as yet the latest undignified attempt in a long line of pointless gimmicks. Except that… the album was actually rather good. And following a strong reception to a one-off acoustic show at the Roundhouse last year, touring it was an inspired idea. More than simply strumming along to some old hits, however, the band took the trouble to create completely reworked arrangements for the album and they are replicated here tonight. The acoustic guitars and harmonica are complimented by a range of other instruments, including mandolin, accordion, viola, cello and violins. Joining the modern era line-up of Status Quo (Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Andrew Brown, John Edwards and new-boy Leon Cave) are an additional nine musicians as well as two female backing singers, all of whom, Rossi tells the crowd, played on the album.

Rather than the usual Quo gig, the elegant lighting, back drapes and stage full of seated musicians looks more like the setting for a 1950s dance band. The sound is still unmistakably Status Quo but the light and breezy arrangements and sensitive vocals show off the quality of the songwriting and bring out new depths to often familiar songs. A beautifully laid-back version of early 80s hit “Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a particular highlight and there are some lovely reworkings of earlier material like “Reason for Living”, now re-imagined as a folk-rock rock classic. Rain is given a makeover as a countrified acoustic blues and a classically-infused Mystery Song, with exquisitely catchy string accompaniment, is another highlight. Of course many of the best known classics are included, too, like Caroline, What Your Proposin’ and Down Down.

The set proper is finished with Whatever You Want and Rockin All Over the World, the acoustic treatments creating the perfect setting for a mighty communal sing-along. Thankfully the post 1983 material has been kept to a minimum in favour of earlier classics, but they encore with a nicely sensitive version of Rock ‘til You Drop. That is then followed by the gimmicky jig, Burning Bridges. It wouldn’t be my choice for a Quo encore but the crowd lap it up and you can forgive the band one lapse of good taste after such a stunning evening.

Setlist:
Break the Rules
Again and Again
Paper Plane
Mystery Song / Little Lady
Rock ‘n’ Roll
Caroline
What You’re Proposing
Softer Ride
Down Down
Pictures of Matchstick Men
Down the Dustpipe
All the Reasons
Reason for Living
Rollin’ Home
Don’t Drive My Car
Claudie
Rain
Marguerita Time
Nanana
Whatever You Want
Rockin’ All Over the World
Rock ’til You Drop
Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)

http://www.statusquo.co.uk/

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Previous Review: Status Quo Frantic Four reunion

Status Quo at Hammersmith Apollo 28/3/14

Normally, I’m all for big named bands giving up-and -coming ones a helping hand with a support slot on tour. But when it comes to big rock reunions, and I’ve seen a few, nothing beats a well-chosen,  established act from a similar era to kick things off. Status Quo have chosen brilliantly here by getting in Wilko Johnson as the support for their “frantic four” classic-era reunion tour. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in early 2013, former Dr Feelgood guitarist, Johnson, made the brave, inspirational and utterly life-affirming decision to use his remaining time, not pursuing a debilitating and ultimately futile course of treatment, but by saying farewell to his fans with a series of live dates. There has been no sign of his being incapacitated just yet and so further dates have been added, the Quo tour being the latest. And what a magnificent performance, not only from Wilko but from bass player Norman Watt-Roy and drummer, Dylan Howe. The crowd roared its approval as the trio delivered blistering performances of Feelgood classics like Roxette, Back in the Night and She Does it right. The admiration and affection for the man tonight was moving but this was no mere sympathy vote. It was a genuinely magnificent set and the crowd responded accordingly. Quo could not have chosen a better way to open up the evening.

After a shortish break the lights dimmed, the famous spoken intro from the 1977 live album was relayed over the PA, the silhouette backdrop made famous by the “Hello” album cover came down and Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan walked on stage. The four are reunited for a second time after their reunion tour last year following a 32-year break. Since the demise of the classic line-up in the 80s Status Quo, under Rossi and Parfitt, has very much continued, of course. But what we saw tonight was something very different from the lighter keyboard-heavy pop-rock act that continues to fill arenas every year. Like last year’s  Quo re-union tour, again there was a focus on material from the early 70s albums, rather than the big hits of later years. It was a very similar, setlist too, but although lacking the emotional resonance of seeing four guys walking out on stage together for the first time in over 30 years, it more than made up for that by being a somewhat tighter performance from the band than in 2013.

As in last year’s reunion, returning bass player, Alan Lancaster, got a hefty slice of the lead vocal duties, Lancaster’s gritty vocals being something that later versions of the band have definitely missed out on. I’ve seen the post-Lancaster/Coghlan Status Quo at a couple of festivals, and while they are undeniably fun and entertaining, the quality of songs and the earthiness of the performance when the original four get on stage together provides something different altogether. Highlights for me were Lancaster opening with Junior’s Wailing, Rossi singing In My Chair, and a magnificent performance of perennial crowd-pleaser Forty Five Hundred Times. Although the focus was very much on album classics, I must confess when I saw them last year I was ever so slightly disappointed that they had chosen not to play one of their greatest ever hit singles, Caroline. Tonight, though that was rectified and the band encored with a magnificent version of Caroline, followed by traditional show closer, Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny. Definitely, a memorable night for British rock.

Setlist:
Junior’s Wailing
Backwater
Just Take Me
Is There a Better Way
In My Chair
Blue Eyed Lady
Little Lady
Most of the Time
Rain
(April) Spring, Summer and Wednesdays
Railroad
Oh Baby
Forty-Five Hundred Times / Gotta Go Home
Big Fat Mama
Down Down
Roadhouse Blues
Caroline
Bye Bye Johnny

http://www.statusquo.co.uk/

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