Saturday, November 23, 2013

Status Quo - Back to Back

This week (November 25th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Back to Back, the sixteenth studio album from the English rock band Status Quo. The group was first formed, under another name, in 1962 and released their first album in 1968. This album from 1983 charted at number 60 in Germany, number 56 in France, number 38 in Sweden, number 25 in Austria, number 20 in Switzerland, number 18 in Norway, and number 9 in the UK.

The line-up for the band at the time was Andy Brown (keyboards), Pete Kircher (drums), Alan Lancaster (bass and vocals), Rick Parfitt (vocals and guitar), and Francis Rossi (vocals and lead guitar). Status Quo temporarily disbanded in 1984, and this would be their last album with Kircher and Lancaster.

Side one opens with “A Mess of Blues”, a cover of a song that was a hit for Elvis Presley in 1960. Released as the second single, it went to number 15 in the UK and number 12 in Ireland. This version has an updated sound; I never would have expected it was based on a song from twenty-three years prior.

“Ol’ Rag Blues”, the first single, reached number 47 in Germany, number 22 in Norway, number 20 in the Netherlands, number 18 in Sweden, number 17 in Switzerland, number 15 in Belgium, number 9 in the UK and number 7 in Ireland. The bouncy song is about the worn out denim his girlfriend wears.

“Can’t Be Done” features a confident guitar groove and a rollicking piano.

Things slow down with the ballad “Too Close to the Ground”.

“No Contract”, from what I understand, leans heavily towards the band’s heavier blues-rock roots. The lyrics tell of a relationship between a man and a woman, but not a binding one with a commitment.

Side two begins with “Win or Lose”, a rousing rocker about regret.

The third single was “Marguerita Time”; it charted at number 52 in Germany, number 25 in the Netherlands, number 23 in Switzerland, number 7 in Ireland, and number 3 in the UK. The track has a bit a country swagger to its rhythm.

“Your Kind of Love” is up next.

“Stay the Night” was the B-side to the first single.

“Going Down Town Tonight”, the closing track, was released as the fourth single in 1984 under a revised arrangement. It went to number 20 in the UK and number 14 in Ireland.

To the best of my memory, this was my first exposure to Status Quo; according to the charts they had not been as popular here in the States as they were through out Europe. Most of the music on this album in particular reminded me a lot of bands like REO Speedwagon or the Bay City Rollers - a pleasant pop-rock sound. Still, I had to dig around the Internet a bit to assemble the tracks to listen to as much of the albums from the band are pretty scarce in this digital age (CDs can be found but as expensive imports).

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