Boasting a line-up that would have pretty much shaken the pop world to its very core in 1973 – the year they racked up no less than five No.1 hits between them – Suzi Quatro, The Sweet’s Andy Scott and Don Powell of Slade tessellate in so seamless and organic a fashion as to put most preceding supergroups to shame. It would be all too easy to dismiss QSP with a derisive “How good can they be?” Maybe you’ve assumed that Suzi went country, that the rock’n’roll fire in her belly has long-since been extinguished, that she’s been lost to the cosy sofa of Loose Women complacency. Perhaps you’d written off Scott and Powell as jaded journeymen endlessly working the international chicken-in-a-basket circuit to an ever-dwindling hard-core following. Well think again, because Quatro, Scott & Powell are infinitely better than they have any right to be.
From their opening tumultuous roar through Larry Williams’s Slow Down, QSP are so fully on top of their game that you wonder why they’ve never done this before. Quatro’s bass and Powell’s drums lock together as a single unit, a rhythm section of rare power that drives the beat and swings the rhythm as Scott’s guitar stings and soars, and Suzi unleashes that unmistakable, multi-faceted voice of hers: the original blueprint for both Joan Jett’s petulant, feral snarl and the cool-’n’- brooding, Detroit leaning of Chrissie Hynde. And it’s a blast. Sure, it’s a cover, but effervesced into a classic 1950s setting by Ray Beavis’s sax, Jez Davies’s keyboards and a superb, no-frills Scott production it’s fresh, alive and irresistible.
The protagonists’ undeniable maturity is used to best advantage across a series of original compositions that marry craftsmanship with emotional experience. Quatro and Scott serve up three collaborations; the near-ZZ boogie of ode to the road Light softwareuiphraseguid=“e074984f-5970-460e-8921-08954d9cb2c1”>Nights Early Flights is relatively routine, but it’s when they get all widescreen and contemplative that they truly shine, and if blue-collar ballad Long Way From Home is huge, Pain is immense. A real lighter-waver. Suzi digs deep, bares her soul and offers a rare glimpse of the vulnerability at the heart of her Tuscadero tomboy toughness.
If Only, another Quatro co-write (with late Alice Cooper/Lou Reed guitarist Dick Wagner), is pure Brill Building brilliance, while other vibrant covers clearly accentuate the joy at the core of this project, not least Dylan’s Just Like A Woman which Suzi only has the audacity to make her own.
An unexpected triumph and then some.