There’s a thing about familiarity. There’s a thing about a band always being there. You forget – or perhaps never realise – how good they are.
Status Quo are a case in point. When I was little, I had a single of theirs called “Ol’ Rag Blues” and they were always on Going Live on Saturday Morning TV. So, when in about 2003 MV’s very own Donnie started telling me how ace they were and how we’d got to go and all this, I laughed at him, I’ll be honest.
They were Status Quo. That band from the 80s. They were the one my Auntie went to see every Christmas and once walked out of because they didn’t play the hits (absolutely true, that).
Anyway, back to Donnie. He dragged my brother to a show one Christmas. I was being all cool and refused to go. My brother reckoned that when they’d done “Two Way Traffic”, Don had greeted it with the gusto he’d usually reserve for Maiden’s “Fear Of The Dark” – to the general bemusement of the rest of the audience who most definitely weren’t there for “new stuff.”
My brother also reckoned Quo were magnificent. The following week they were playing near where I live. Armed with this evidence from the two people I trust most to know my tastes, I went. And what has now become an obsession began. For almost 20 years I have been firmly convinced that Status Quo are one of the finest bands to ever grace these shores.
Which is sort of why I began with that ramble about two people who mean nothing to you, and if you’re a quo-nostic if you will, like I was, then let me tell you how good they are.. And also that’s why I am pre-disposed to this set of “Noughties” stuff more than many would be – because these songs were my entry point into this world.
There’s a three disc version that you need to buy, because on it there’s a live CD that explains in audio form the sheer joy of seeing them live – I swear to you, if you go and don’t have the biggest smile on your face when you leave, you must have had botox.
Across the three and a half hours of this, there’s some beauties. “Backbone” the title cut of the most recent record is given a makeover, “Looking Out For Caroline”, just about the best boogie you’ll ever have, “Liberty Lane” and some stuff that sounds slightly different, like “Jam Side Down” and the Celtic tinges of “Twenty Wild Horses” which is just brilliant (and actually sounds more like the early stuff).
There’s been eight albums to choose from this millennium, and the brilliant acoustic ones are ushered in with “Pictures Of Matchstick Men), “Bula Quo” with “Kua Ni Lega” (its better than the film, which was so bad it made those awful Elvis films look not so terrible) and disc two’s standout moment “Temporary Friend” is a superb song.
As ever with these things there’s an attempt to entice the completists. This one has plenty. The Live CD, which is worth it for Francis Rossi’s imitable stage patter, he sounds permanently like he can’t believe his luck. “Hold You Back”, “Paper Plane” and “Rain” are as good as rock n roll will be. Ever. But there’s also the medley of “Rock N Roll Music” and “Bye Bye Johnny” in which he exclaims “oooh I like this one!” As if he can’t stand the others.
There’s also some remixes. “Caroline” and “Rockin’ All Over The World” amongst others, and the inferior (in my opinion) version of “In The Army Now” from 2010, whether they add a lot, you can judge. Brian May of Queen manages to help them do not a lot to “Raining In My Heart”, but then he is the guitarist in the band I dislike most in the world. But Quo are allowed a few duff moments in a lifetime of brilliance, surely.
This has not been a decade of plain sailing, the tragic loss of Rick Parfitt a few years ago and Alan Lancaster last autumn only throws into sharper focus this career and this legacy.
There’s a heavy metal band in Britain called Orange Goblin, and their man mountain of a singer Ben Ward, often wears a Quo shirt onstage, there’s another hard rock outfit, Massive Wagons who have a song called “Back To The Stack” which contains the line “raise your glass to Rick, cos I am raising mine”. And it set me thinking. Two disparate bands, from opposite ends of the country, geographically and opposite ends of the scale musically, both united in a love of the best.
That’s Quo. By fitting in nowhere, they can be everywhere, and mean something to everyone. “Quo’ing In…The Best Of The Noughties” underlines that as well as anything.