Status Quo are to release their first ever unplugged album, Aquostic (Stripped Bare), through Warner Bros on October 20, and Francis Rossi and Rock Parfitt have given Classic Rock an exclusive lowdown on its details.
The project was recorded in great secrecy at Rossi’s own studio, with regular producer Mike Paxman behind the desk. It includes some 21 songs culled from various stages of the group’s lengthy career. The album mixes single hits with album tracks and a handful of its selections have been enhanced by a string section and backing vocalists. The startling cover image (below), which features Parfitt and Rossi in a state of undress — modesty preserved by a pair of strategically placed acoustic guitars — was shot by Canadian rocker and photographer Bryan Adams.
“The new arrangements of most of these songs are vastly different to the ones that Quo fans will already know,” claims Parfitt. The rhythm guitarist and vocalist is especially proud of the way that Don’t Drive My Car, from 1980’s Just Supposin’, has been reworked. “It sounds like a cross between Stéphane Grappelli [jazz violinist] and Django Reinhardt [jazz guitarist],” he enthuses. “People will be taken aback, and pleasantly so.”
Rossi admits that he approached the sessions with cynicism, but the lead guitarist/vocalist’s interest snowballed once the band – completed by John ‘Rhino’ Edwards on bass, Andrew Bown on Keys and drummer Leon Cave, set to work. The first track they experimented upon was And It’s Better Now (from the 1973 album, Hello!), and the results were far better than Rossi had expected.
“It made me think, wow! And I went from not wanting to be involved to really, really liking it,” he comments. “I’ve always liked Paper Plane [from the previous year’s Piledriver], for example, but what we’ve done with it is really fucking nice. To me, the new version of All The Reasons [also Piledriver] is as good as the original, or better. The same with Rain [from Blue For You, 1976], which is a song that I really didn’t think would work in such a format. It’s a really fucking great record.”
However, the question remains: What will Aquostic (Stripped Bare) tell us about Status Quo that we don’t already know?
“It’s still only three chords though, for fuck’s sake… don’t expect to hear that fourth one,” smiles Parfitt.
Quo return to the road in Liverpool on December 6 to begin an 11-date electric tour, but the band are willing to consider the possibility of performing some unplugged shows in 2015.
“Let’s eat an elephant, as they say – one bite at a time,” Parfitt jokes. “We’ll gauge the response and see what happens.”
Parfitt and Rossi also spoke to Classic Rock’s video team, in an interview in which they reveal the naked truth about the new album. “I might be talking to you next year saying, ‘Jesus, that was a mistake, wasn’t it? How are we gonna recover from that?’”, says Rossi. “Or it might be the best thing we’ve ever done!”
Aquostic (Stripped Bare) will include the following songs, although the final running order has yet to be confirmed:
- Pictures Of Matchstick Men * Down The Dustpipe * Nanana * Paper Plane * All The Reasons * Reason For Living * And It’s Better Now * Caroline * Softer Ride * Claudie * Break The Rules * Down Down * Little Lady * Mystery Song * Rain * Rockin’ All Over The World * Again and Again * Whatever You Want * What You’re Proposin * Rock N’ Roll * Don’t Drive My Car * Marguerita Time * Rollin’ Home * Burning Bridges * Rock ’Til You Drop