Top 10 Status Quo Moments
They've been around for longer than you'd think but have faded of late due to Radio 1 chasing them into the wilderness, or at least in the direction of Radio 2 but Status Quo have long been one of the UK's great acts. CD Times, therefore, takes an opportunity to look back at the career of Status Quo and selects the band's ten outstanding moments:
1. Pictures Of Matchstick Men: If there is one genuine psychedelic classic from this side of the Atlantic, it's this. In the US, where they took the whole thing a great deal more seriously, there's a surfeit of options though it's likely that The Electric Prunes' I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night would bubble to the top, closely followed by Eight Miles High. But here, when that plucked riff fills out into a phased run of major chords under lyrics composed by Rossi when sitting on the loo to escape his first wife, there's little from the UK that blends the psychedelia of The Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows, the crunch of The Who and the whimsy of The Incredible String Band as effectively as this. Just marvellous and could almost convince you that wearing paisley shirts, brown cords and chelsea boots are, well, stylish.
2. First TOTP Appearance: With Pictures Of Matchstick Men going up the charts, The Status Quo headed into a disused church on Dickinson Road in Manchester in their gran's best frilly shirts and styled with centre-partings to mime along to a playback of their hit. And is it ever obvious. Showing no interest in actually miming to the song, The Status Quo look as though they just cannot believe their luck and are thrilled to bits at just being there. Hell, you imagine that had they only ever had this one appearance, it would have made their lives and having lived through the nineties when lardy computer operators stood behind Jive Bunny, archive footage of this gives you a sense of just what TOTP once meant.
3. Dropping 'The': With many factors pushing psychedelia to the history books, not least hippie wigs in Woolies and the brown acid, how else to make a break into hard rock but to just come back as Status Quo. Sounding leaner, dressed in denim and equipped with the grunt of early metal, Status Quo toured Europe with their new sound and by plugging it relentlessly, all they needed was some direction...
4. Hearing Roadhouse Blues: Who'd have thought that Jim Morrison - poet, filmmaker, shaman and Lizard King, lest you forget - should so inspire a British boogie-band that they struggled to move on from the template that this song provided them. Of course, The Doors' Morrison's Blues/Hard Rock Cafe was a straight ahead rock album after the colourful arrangements of The Soft Parade and there are few songs more straightforward than Roadhouse Blues. Not even the flamenco arrangements that intruded on The Doors' songs would twist this boogie and to Rossi and Parfitt, Roadhouse Blues offered them an experience akin to Paul's on the road to Damascus. After that, Pictures Of Matchstick Men would never return and it was on to the likes of...
5. Down Down: 'cos it has just about the most thrilling opening of any song and offers as much of that sense of the stillness-before-the-storm as Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). It takes 37s of riffing before the no-nonsense boogie kicks in and when it does, if your head isn't shaking, you're either dead or in an iron lung. Yet it gets better - first chorus over, Quo hit an instrumental break around 1m26s and the song races just ahead of the band, threatening to tip the whole thing into chaos with Parfitt, Rossi and...uh, the other ones all sort of doing their own thing as the drummer struggles to keep them in check. What's it about? Like...huh? Could be something about being tramped on by an ex but really, it's about that involuntary movement of the head, hips or feet. Make no mistake, this is as good as Quo ever got.
6. Selling Their Own Range Of Clothing: Whilst it's just the done thing now - Puff Daddy selling fur coats with bulletproof kevlar lining for a few hundred thousand dollars - back in the seventies, to be a man and actually admit to an interest in clothes was but one short step away from actually being gay. Of course, there was little that was feminine about Status Quo's range of clothing - never mind being able to tell if you dress left or right, had you ever worn a pair of Status Quo jeans, strangers were informed as to the presence of a foreskin or not.
7. Opening Live Aid: Biggest concert ever? Not quite, Woodstock and a rash of annual festivals would be bigger but none would have the impact of this and having used Rockin' All Over The World to trail the concert, it was only fair that Status Quo were asked to open the London leg of the Live Aid at Wembley Stadium. On that hot 13th July in 1985, who can forget Quo rushing onstage to perform not only this but also Caroline and Don't Waste My Time. It was a great concert and this was but one highlight - think also of Macca's microphone cutting out, Phil Collins on Concorde, Simon le Bon failing to hit the high notes of A View To A Kill and Dylan utterly confusing Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards with the playing of Hollis Brown (Wood: "Ain't that a cough mixture?").
8. Francis Rossi's Nose Falling Off: Long before Daniella Westbrook frightened the nation her lack of a septum, Francis Rossi was the less than proud owner of the anti-drugs campaigner's nose of choice. Well, maybe once but when he realised the mileage in the story, Rossi started to embellish the story a little. Where the truth may have been that a little chunk of his nose fell out one day whilst he was in the shower, Rossi soon told of putting objects through what was left of his septum. This started off with pipecleaners, moved on to pens and, in its last telling, Rossi was pushing screwdrivers from one nostil t'other. Next year, one fully expects Rossi to be dragging a Fender Telecaster, his own right arm and Rick Parfitt through his nose. Still, waistcoats are cheap and I guess you've gotta spend it somewhere.
9. Live Gigs And Guinness: With radio stations no longer actively playing either Status Quo's singles or album tracks, the band turned to promoting themselves via gigs. So, in 1991 Status Quo completed a national tour of the UK in under 12 hours with gigs in Glasgow, Sheffield, Birmingham and London and Norris McWhirter may well have popped up during the final encore to offer then a place in the Guinness Book Of Records, which still stands. Whilst it was supported by Radio 1, those heady days of friendship couldn't last forever and eventually, there was a falling out...
10. Suing Radio 1: Because each and every one of us has felt like doing it and Status Quo were the only ones to actually do it. Personally, I felt like phoning my solicitor every time DLT broadcast to those making their way to retail outlets on Saturday and Sunday mornings prior to his hilarious, as-if-anyone-really-cares-enough on-air resignation but for Quo, being booted off the playlist during Matthew Bannister's culling of the old guard was just too much. Sadly, they lost the court case but said that they were successful in raising the issues of ageism in pop. Though, actually, they weren't.
And that's the 10. If you agree, disagree or if there are entries in this band's life that are deserving of greater attention than the above, please comment below.