Album Of The Week Club Review: Status Quo - Live!

Recorded at the height of their powers in front of a rabid Glasgow audience, Status Quo's Live! is a firm fan favourite

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Status Quo - Status Quo Live!

Junior's Wailing
Backwater
Just Take Me
Is There A Better Way
In My Chair
Little Lady
Most Of The Time
Forty-Five Hundred Times
Roll Over Lay Down
Big Fat Mama
Caroline
Bye Bye Johnny
Rain
Don't Waste My Time
Roadhouse Blues

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Status Quo one of the quintessential British live acts of the 1970s. Long before AC/DC came along, Quo were the original heads-down, no-nonsense boogie band par excellence. They released albums, from which just one single was allowed to be released, even though it was always an enormous hit. Actually they had just broken that rule with their Blue For You studio album, which became their third album to go straight into the UK chart at No.1, and from which they released three singles. Nevertheless, the fact remained: you couldn’t consider yourself a true, heads-down Quo fanatic unless you’d been to see them lay down the law live at least once.

“That’s exactly who we were in those days,” says Francis Rossi. “Which is why I think the Live! album went down so well with everybody. It was like a ‘greatest hits’ album only much better. No long-form videos in those days, let alone YouTube, so the closest you could come to a genuine Quo live show without actually buying a ticket was on that album. It’s definitely us at our most rocking, that’s for sure. It was rock’n’roll all the way with that line-up, which is another reason why that live album jumps out of you. You can hear the aggression.”

Listen to Status Quo Live!

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Here’s what we learned about Status Quo Live!

Background

When Status Quo decided to record a live album in 1976, their next decision was a no-brainer. As Rick Parfitt says: “It was very simple. If you’re going to have an audience on an album have a Glaswegian audience.”

And so, in the autumn of 1976, Quo arrived in Glasgow with the Rolling Stones’ Mobile Studio in tow. For the recording of the bluntly titled Live! album, the band played three shows, on October 27, 28 and 29, at the famous old Apollo theatre. It was a venue they had played many times before, but Quo literally went out of their way to record there, squeezing in their three-night stand at the Apollo between European and Far East tours – because, as Francis Rossi explains, “In Glasgow, we got the most phenomenal response. The Jocks, bless them, were known for that.”

Facilities at the Apollo were by no means perfect. The acoustics were, in Parfitt’s frank estimation, “shit”. The stage was unusually high, inducing vertigo in Rossi. Quo also feared for the safety of fans in the balcony. “It was moving three feet up and down as all the people jumped in sync with the rhythm of the music,” said bassist Alan Lancaster.

That atmosphere was tangible on the finished album. According to Parfitt, there was no overdubbing on Quo Live! “Never mind about it being a bit frayed around the edges,” he says. “That’s how we liked it.”

Released in March 1977 as a double-vinyl set, Live! included most of the band’s classic tracks – Caroline, Big Fat Mama, Forty-Five Hundred Times, Rain – bookended by blistering cover versions of songs that had shaped the band’s sound, Junior’s Wailing and Roadhouse Blues. Absent was Down Down, but no matter: even without their biggest hit, Live! was a tour de force that captured all the raw power of a band at its peak.

Other albums released in March 1977

  • Max Webster - High Class In Borrowed Shoes
  • Quiet Riot - Quiet Riot
  • Foreigner - Foreigner
  • T.Rex - Dandy In The Underworld
  • The Band - Islands
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Works Volume 1
  • Iggy Pop - The Idiot
  • AC/DC - Let There Be Rock
  • Paice Ashton Lord - Malice In Wonderland
  • Jesse Winchester - Nothing But A Breeze
  • Can - Saw Delight
  • Procol Harum - Something Magic
  • Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express
  • Starz - Violation

What they said

"Recorded, with perfect timing, just as Status Quo hit their live peak, 1977's double Live! album is, contrarily, a timeless reminder of just how much power and excitement was bound up in the band through the mid-'70s -- and on, in fact, into the early '80s. It would be several years before Status Quo turned into the faintly embarrassing cabaret singalong that scarred the latter years of their career, a fact that Live! broadcasts via a picture-perfect snapshot of the last calm before that particular storm."  (AllMusic)

"Uninspired title aside (there are at least fifteen other bands with a live album called Live!), The Quo rocked the house down in Glasgow, delivering a solid ninety minutes of classic rock to the screaming crowd. The Rossi-Parfitt pairing is one of the most enduring in all of rock - and so is this album." (Planet Rock)

What you said

Mike Knoop: As fun as it is to hear an old favorite like Shout at the Devil or Mob Rules, I joined this club for albums like this one. It's a treat to hear a great album by a band that I have heard of, but never really listened to - and has a big back catalog to explore. Bring on Dr. Feelgood, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Slade, Count Bishops, Humble Pie, Be-Bop Deluxe, Mott the Hoople, and bands I've never heard of. Great pick! And the club's first live album and (official) double album to boot.

Olav Martin Bjørnsen: I've never been a great fan of Status Quo. I have found some of their music pleasant, other parts of their production quite appallingly weak, but have never experienced this as a band that could engage me. This live album, fairly raw and honest, does perhaps present the best sides of the band, and those best sides are captivating indeed. Brilliant at their very best, and proof that music doesn't have to be complicated to be captivating nor to have staying power. A well made, quality live album, and one that merits a spin if the combination of blues, boogie and hard rock comes across as appealing in general and then in a live setting in particular.

Pete Mineau: Status Quo Live! is what a live album should be: in your face boogie jams with no over dubs and no apologies! You can actually hear the crowd having fun! It's a shame that most people in the U.S. are only familiar with Status Quo because of their late Sixties single, Pictures Of Matchstick Men. After dropping the psychedelic sound at the beginning of the Seventies, they produced a string of albums that rival America's favorite English import of the same time and flavor, Foghat. Status Quo Live! is one of my favorite top ten live releases of the Seventies...an era that produced some of the most epic concert recordings of all time! I would rate this album 4.75 out 5! This is a rock show by a band at it's peak! It's the next best thing to being there!

Hai Kixmiller: Wow! I didn't know anything about these guys, but this album has a fantastic Rock N' Roll groove. It's not just a groove, the bass and drums plow a masterful furrow, and the guitars sowed the seeds of fist pumpin' and head-bangin' rock n' roll. I bet you never thought you'd get to read a rock n' roll farm analogy. 

Tom Dee: This band in the 70’s was the epitome of good time rock and roll. Saw them at Southport and Liverpool previous to this live show with more a less the same sets. Fantastic live and they put you in a great mood. This is a top live album and the atmosphere is so well recorded.

Jim Kanavy: Every time I "discover" a classic band I go straight to their live albums. This one made me understand what I'd been missing here in the US all those years. I should have loved this band long ago. They play pure Rock and Roll and put it forth in grand style on this album.

Gary Claydon: Ah, back to a time when live albums really meant something. A time when Quo could boogie with the best of them, the last 'proper' Quo album before they became a cabaret act and booked themselves a seemingly permanent slot on Top Of The Pops. It's easy to be disparaging about Status Quo. Even before the, frankly, often embarrassing stuff that came after this, they were dismissed by many because of their basic 12 bar boogie. Truth is, in their mid-70s prime, they could rock with the best. Yeah, it was basic, yeah it was uncomplicated, but so what? You want good time rock n roll? Well here it is in spades. Pick of the bunch for me are Roll Over Lay Down, Rain and the speeded up, beefier take on Caroline ( although personally I'd prefer it without the Bye Bye Johnny interlude). All in a truly great live album. Now if you'll excuse me , I feel a bit of a boogie coming on!

Kev Sullivan: So if there is anyone who doubts Rick Parfitt’s genius as a rhythm guitarist. (Which is unlikely), Then get your headphones on (proper cans not ear buds) and play 4500 times from this album. Listen to each change of pace in the back half of the track, as it builds and just follow Ricks rhythm guitar. He gets insanely fast and he sustains the pace. It’s incredible playing and I’ve seen nobody match it. Go on... give it a shot. Focus and boogie.

Brian Carr: Almost zero background with Status Quo for me; count me among the non-initiated Americans. I tried, but just couldn’t get into Status Quo Live! The band is playing hard, the crowd is having a blast, I have zero problem with the rawness of the record, but there was nothing that sucked me in. I read pretty much everything in the post and saw two comps that came to my mind while listening: AC/DC and Foghat. Foghat’s Live album was always a favorite of mine, though I never explored their music further. AC/DC has been described as putting out the same album repeatedly, but to my ears, Status Quo makes them look like musical explorers.

To me, what is missing are the songs. They have the boogie down pat, but to my ears, no hooks, no memorable riffs, nothing that really makes me want to listen to them again. But there are obviously many that dug the album based on the crowd on the recording and the majority of the responses here. I guess you can’t like everything...

Harrison Wells: Wow! I’ve never been hugely into Quo. I have always been vaguely aware of a band who were straight up rock n roll and them became something more commercial in the 80s. This live album in a word: phenomenal. I thought it was brilliant. I didn’t have Quo down as a band for extended jams but some of the medleys on this album are brilliant. Also it has to be said that it does go beyond standard boogie and they really sound like an excellent rock band at the height of their powers.

James Praesto: I wish any of my favorite bands had recorded a live album like this. The sound is spot on, the energy is untouchable and you can feel the surge of the crowd as they are into every song. It is one of those live albums where the sound is centered from an audience point of view, rather than from the band-on-stage point of view. You feel like you are in the roaring crowd, having a ball. I don't mind the instrumental misplays or occasional slop-hops; this is a live recording without overdubs, and getting to hear the band as they actually sounded is the way live music should be recorded. God knows I grew up with the classic live albums of my time - Maiden's Live After Death, Lizzy's Live and Dangerous and Kiss's mighty Alive - all of which were riddled with overdubs and edits (not that I knew that back them, but still), and I loved them all.

My only problem with this album is... fucking Status Quo. I just don't get them. It is generic blues rock boogie boredom. I couldn't hum a riff, chorus or lick if you paid me. It is safe, predictable and formulaic to a point where I knew exactly what was going to follow each bar, even though I had never heard the songs, and then it was instantly forgotten again. To me, this is the type of rock I avoid like the plague. I don't want rock to bore me. I want to be excited, elated, impressed, swept away, smashed around, surprised and kept on my toes when I push play. Status Quo is the musical equivalent of washing down an Oscar Mayer hot dog with a luke-warm stale beer. Sure you can eat it, but why would you want to?

Alexander Taylor: Incredible album, the atmosphere from the crowd powers it along, and Quo, with Lancaster leading the charge are on fire. Amazing version of 45 Hundred Times... If only they filmed it!

Jim Linning: I was there!! Top deck - shaking like an earthquake. Fantastic, fantastic noise. I wasn't even a fan - just went along because a pal couldn't make it but what a night. As for the album... yeah it's great but not like being there. Did I tell you I was there?

Simon Kucia: I'm not a big fan of live albums, especially those that sound horribly overdubbed like Unleashed in the East, but for me this is right up there with Made in Japan and Strangers in the Night. Classic Quo at the height of their powers.

Maxwell Martello: I can’t give this more than 6/10. Solid rhythm section, but I wish all the songs were sung by Rick Parfitt with his aggressive whiskey soaked gruff instead of Rossi’s weaker voice.

Jon Peacock: First band I saw live in 76 at Bridlington spa, first of many times, they never once disappointed live. I’ve always loved this album, yes there are better live albums, UFO, Purple and of course the excellent Slade Alive, but this is Quo at the top of their game. As a band, like them or not, they always delivered on stage. However this is the only Quo album I actually own, as a studio band they never cut it for me, Quo Live! however takes me straight back to the 70’s, the best band I saw live, well until the first time I saw Thin Lizzy!

Simon J. Adlington: If they had split after this album, they'd be a revered band now, sadly they just started going through the motions pretty much afterwards. This is a great album - Rossi hates it.

Boris Bregmen: I rate this highly as a live album, because of the rawness of the sound and the warts and all recording. I’m not sure but I doubt there’s any overdubs. Good fun Rock n roll played with passion. They’re certainly not in the musical class of The Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin members, but as a band that’s quite a show. Hard not to enjoy.

Kev Moore: One of the finest live albums ever made, in the heyday of great live albums. This should be presented as evidence of why 'The Frantic Four' are the only Quo worth talking about. I wouldn't pay you in washers for the 'Quobaret' they became, but this document of a band firing on all cylinders at the top of their game is essential. Quo were a relentless, well-oiled boogie machine. I saw them twice in this golden era, once at Trentham Gardens, once at Bingley Hall. 

If you never did, buy this and turn it up. It is the closest you'll ever get. Coghlan and Lancaster are more important to this mix than people realise. Yes, you could put Ian Paice in The Beatles, but it wouldn't have been The Fab Four anymore. Likewise, Nuff was a hard driving, no nonsense bassist with a great rock voice. A band with three lead singers. Most bands these days struggle to find one between them. In an age of autotune, pristine production values and slick stage shows, take a peek back down the decades and cover yourself in the miasma of sweat, denim and dirty telecasters.

Ian Harris: This was the first album I ever bought. It was on cassette as Woolworths had sold out of the vinyl version by the time I got there. I now have three copies of the vinyl version as the first two got worn out pretty quickly at the numerous house parties they visited. Absolutely love this album.

Carl Greveson: An excellent live album from a band at the height of their prowess. It captures a moment in time when Quo were rocking hard & loud. I saw them on their '79 tour at Newcastle City Hall and I absolutely remember the balcony 'bouncing' throughout the gig. Ears were still ringing when I went to college the next day ha!

Robert Cole: Superb live album by the best live band in the UK, honest, rugged live rock and roll as it should be played, the frantic four were and always will be legends.

Final Score: 8.64 ⁄10 (221 votes cast, with a total score of 1910)

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