"I heard it for the first time at a dope dealer’s house one night": My 10 favourite British albums ever, by Status Quo's Francis Rossi

Francis Rossi smiling with guitar
(Image credit: Press)

In 2006, Classic Rock compiled the definitive guide to the 100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever. We consulted a panel of experts: rock DJs, rock critics, rock photographers, rock singers, rock musicians, rock promoters, rock stars... and we asked everyone to compile their own personal Top 10. What follows is Status Quo founder Francis Rossi's contribution.

The Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones (1964)

"It’s their really early shit that I was into. This was the band’s first album, and it really appealed to me because besides their own stuff they did R&B songs by Chuck Berry (Carol) and Willie Dixon (I Just Want To Make Love To You). In those days they were still really earthy, they didn’t have such a thing about being – cue the fanfare – The Rolling Stones. In their last 15 or 20 years their image has overtaken them, and it really gets on my tits."

The Beatles - Revolver (1966)

"It used to freak me out when people said that George Harrison couldn’t sing or write. I mean, for fuck’s sake. The Beatles affected my life, and everybody else’s in the world. Revolver was where they really settled down and became a rock act, as opposed to a pop one."

Chicken Shack - OK, Ken? (1969)

“Released in 1932, I think. We played a lot with them during Status Quo’s big change-over [from pop to boogie-rock]. We’d be wishing we could play music like our soundchecks, and sit on the side of the stage with a joint watching bands like Chicken Shack or Fleetwood Mac. Fucking lovely. When he wasn’t pissed, Stan [Webb] was a great guitar player. We used to travel between gigs in a Bentley, and listen to Chicken Shack for days at a time."

Taste - On The Boards (1970)

"He’s Irish, but for the sake of this story let’s just pretend he lived in the North [of England]. Rory Gallagher could do no wrong with me. I knew him rather well and, funnily enough, he always used to ask how my Telecaster was. Odd fella. “Musically, Rory had a profound effect on me. We were playing together somewhere in Europe, and I remember watching him and thinking: ‘Shit, how can he be that good?’ He used to say: ‘Thank you, g’night’, which I’ve copied ever since."

Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy (1973)

“I was mad for this when everyone else was saying they’d lost it. I wish I could’ve lost it like that. When I heard D’Yer Maker, on side 2, I thought what bastards they were – how could they be that fucking good? I loved Side 2 so much that, for some reason, I completely blanked Side 1 until very recently, when I heard something from it on Radio 2. I had to dig the thing out again."

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

"There's some English people in the band, so I hope I can get away with this one. I heard it for the first time at a dope dealer’s house one night, and knew right away it was a musical benchmark."

Charlie Dore - Where To Now (1979)

“It has that great song Pilot Of The Airwaves. She’s the fantastic writer and singer that did Jam Side Down [recorded by Quo on the Heavy Traffic album]. I was playing my cassette of that album in a hotel in Switzerland, and the woman that cleaned the room nicked it. I never got it again."

Jeff Lynne - Armchair Theatre (1990)

"His first solo album. I knew Jeff when he was around 16, and you just couldn’t touch him; he could do anything. I’ve got all the Electric Light Orchestra stuff, and I can never understand why people say it’s hammy. Armchair Theatre is a unique album. It has a lovely drum sound."

Electric Light Orchestra - Zoom (2000)

“Jeff Lynne released it as ELO when he got the name back. Like everyone else, I thought: ‘Oh no’ when I heard he was using [the ELO name] again. But I bought it, and played it on the bus one night, and thought: ‘You fucking talented bastard’. “I played it to my writing partner, Bob [Young], and within two or three tracks he looked at me and said: ‘He’s a fuckin’ bastard, ain’t he?’ Fucking right he is. It was a ridiculously good album."

Muse - Absolution (2003)

"I still think of Muse as being a pretty new band, but apparently they’ve existed for more than 10 years. This was their third album, and it has my favourite song of theirs, Stockholm Syndrome. It’s great that the guitarist [Matt Bellamy] has mastered how to use his harmoniser. They’re a band that really thinks about what they do. The bastards should have been drowned at birth."

Francis Rossi was speaking with Dave Ling. This feature originally appeared in Classic Rock 91, published in April 2006. 

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.