Status Quo are, like it or not, one of the most iconic British bands of the last century. Concocting countless chart hits such as ‘Whatever You Want’, ‘Caroline’ and ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’, the band, featuring popular pair Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, even hold the record for most UK chart singles – with an impressive 61 throughout their career. More than the Beatles, Rolling Stones and even Queen, the mighty Quo have triumphed through countless line-up changes and crises over supposed ‘direction’.
And let’s be honest for a moment, Status Quo only really have one direction: classic, Dad-loved, boogie rock. They must have honed, mastered, burned down and reestablished that genre in the nigh-on-fifty years they’ve been going. And even in that one genre, they’ve only every really written one song. With a trademark staple of ‘dundun dundun’ in time to the swaying of jean-smothered legs, Status Quo have used the same formula for music ever since they switched to mainstream rock back in the mid-70s.
And for this, naturally, the band get a lot of stick. ‘Generic’, ‘boring’, ‘bland’, ‘dull’, ‘meaningless Dad rock’ and ‘rubbish’ are all words that are thrown at this great British band… and I think it’s time we put that to rest. After all, the one song they’ve done (a slight over exaggeration, I must say) is, by no means, a bad song at all. It works! It sounds good, it rocks live, it gets your legs swaying in time to booming drums and the solo never sounds tired or washed-out (unlike the jeans of said band) – it just rocks.
Let’s face it, Status Quo are impossible not to sing along to. Who hasn’t dropped everything they’re doing to chant the words, ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’? Hell, even a power metal gig I went to last year ended with that very tune as its closing track. And everyone loved it.
What’s more, the Quo still churn out brilliant albums like they’re yesterday’s bread; all crackling with pent-up guitar riffs and lyrics on just loving rock ‘n roll. Take the band’s twenty-first addition to their lengthy catalogue, Thirsty Work, for example, released in 1994. With a staggering twenty-one tracks to boast, too, a lot of them sound… well, the same. I’ll give you that. The words are swapped out for new ones that mean just as much (or little), the choruses gain a beat or lose one, but they’re still the same.
Except, the album’s opener, ‘Goin’ Nowhere’, is a rocking anthem on the reflection of direction in life. ‘Soft In The Head’ stomps into full-view with drums like peals of thunder, and a chorus that just makes you feel good! The band’s try at a ballad, ‘Restless’, isn’t all that bad either.
And you’ll find this in a lot of Status Quo’s work. Across their impressive discography are albums peppered with stand-out tracks (I couldn’t be bothered to list their respective homes but some I picked out included: ‘Ain’t Complaining’, ‘Ol’ Rag Blues’, ‘No Contract’, ‘Blues & Rhythm’, ‘Figure of Eight’, ‘Saddling Up’, ‘Looking Out For Caroline’ and about half a dozen more), including some absolute gems that are criminally overlooked.
Okay, I get it. You don’t want to like Status Quo. Your dad put them on in the long car ride home and it all blended into one endless track that became noise in your ear. And that’s fine. Maybe classic rock isn’t your thing.
But if it is, then you definitely need to pay attention to these. ‘Forty-Five Hundred Times’, originally featuring as the finale of the Quo’s 1073 album, Hello!, is an eight-minute goldmine of beautiful guitar and rhythm. Tracks passing the five-minute mark are tough to get right; they have an annoying habit of being easy to switch off. But not this one.
Or how about ‘The Power Of Rock’, a six-minute tale from the band’s 1989 record, Perfect Remedy? It is quite possibly one of the best songs ever made, and by no means am I about to start laughing at the notion. It tells the story of a teenage couple that share the ‘power of rock ‘n roll’, and it builds up into a climax of riffs and chants that just infect the very soul. They electrify you like you were a toaster plugged in for too long and about to blow out the fuse.
My point is simply this: that Status Quo are written off far too much. Yes, their songs sound the same. Yes, they still release music when they probably shouldn’t (following legendary Rick Parfitt’s death, too). And yes, they perform tours where half the audience are under the age of forty-three. But guess what? The songs still sound amazing, the music is always rocking, and the shows sell-out near instantly. And don’t you for a minute try to tell me any of the audience find themselves unable to scream along.
Status Quo, I have no shame in saying, I love you. Thank you for the music you brought my dad. Thank you for the music you keep bringing me. Thank you for existing and keep on rockin’ all over the world.