Status Quo: Hello! - Album Of The Week Club review

After consolidating the sound of the Frantic Four on 1972's Piledriver, Status Quo stuck with a winning formula on the following year's Hello!

Status Quo: Hello! cover art
(Image: © Vertigo Records)

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Status Quo: Hello!

Status Quo: Hello! cover art

(Image credit: Vertigo Records)

Roll Over Lay Down
A Reason For Living
Blue Eyed Lady
Softer Ride
And It's Better Now
Forty-Five Hundred Times

In 1973, glam rock ruled the UK singles chart. The first No.1 of the year was Sweet’s Blockbuster, the last was Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody. As late Status Quo bassist Alan Lancaster recalled: “At that time, glam rock was massive.” 

But Quo were having none of it. “We did anything we could do to look ugly!” said Lancaster. “And our fans loved us for it. We were the people’s band – the real deal.”

And in 1973, the people’s band became more popular than they had ever dreamed possible. After the success of the previous year’s Piledriver, Quo stuck with a winning formula on Hello! And once they had three key tracks in the can – Caroline, Roll Over Lay Down and Forty-Five Hundred Times – guitarist  Rick Parfitt knew they’d nailed

“I just remember the feeling I got from those tracks,” he said. “It was magical – like there was stardust coming off them. Recording those songs was a really moving experience.”

Caroline, the only single extracted from the album, was one of many Quo songs
co-written by the band’s tour manager Bob Young. “It was a hard one to write,” Francis Rossi said. “It started off a bit bluesy, and those mid-tempo shuffles are extremely difficult to play. But then Rick came up with the intro riff and we were away. After that, it was a piece of piss.”

Like Caroline, Roll Over Lay Down and Forty-Five Hundred Times would become Quo anthems, the latter extended to over 20 minutes in the band’s marathon live sets, and on October 27, 1973, Hello! hit No.1 on the UK chart, displacing Slade.

In a year when glam was king, only three other rock bands had No.1 albums: Led Zeppelin, The Faces and the Rolling Stones. Astonishingly, Pink Floyd could only make No.2 with The Dark Side Of The Moon. And as Rick Parfitt recalled: "Having a No.1 album was amazing. It’s hard to explain how good you felt about that."

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Other albums released in September 1973

  • Over-Nite Sensation - Frank Zappa
  • Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert - Eric Clapton
  • The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen
  • Crazy Eyes - Poco
  • Faust IV - Faust
  • In a Glass House - Gentle Giant
  • Vagabonds of the Western World - Thin Lizzy
  • High on the Hog - Black Oak Arkansas
  • Bang - James Gang
  • It's Only a Movie - Family
  • Nice 'n' Greasy - Atomic Rooster
  • Sweet Freedom - Uriah Heep
  • Ten Years Are Gone - John Mayall


What they said...

"Down to the proto-Spinal Tap black-on-black cover, this was the vanguard of British denim rock in 1975, and given the narrow conceptual and technical limits within which the Status Quo had to work, it has held up well, though it is certainly not for the faint of heart or attention span." (AllMusic)

"It's pleasing, relatively heavy, boogie riffing rock material. Nicely addictive for short periods of time, irritating for lengthy periods of time, which is why Status Quo in the eighties were a hideous proposition, because over-familiarity with their tricks and trade rendered them weak and fainting and critical, on life-support." (Adrian Denning)

"The band have never sounded cockier nor more physically fit than they do on what is without a doubt their most popular and respected album – which entered the UK chart at No.1 in 1973. With its eight songs (the bonus track Joanne was added when the album was reissued in 2006) Hello! contains not a trace of a filler." (Classic Rock Magazine)


What you said...

Alex Hayes: It's early October 1986, and the just turned 12-year-old me is sat on a bus. It's a foul day, tipping down with rain, and I'm on my way to the nearest town to buy one of my very first rock records. Status Quo had been featured on that weeks Top Of The Pops, miming along to their new single, In The Army Now, and I'm on a mission. I've got some spending money off me Mam, and I'm gonna pick me up a copy of that song, sod the weather. Besides, my standard issue 80s parka should keep me relatively dry. Thus, a love affair was born.

My first Quo albums were the late 80s ones from the re-formed version of the band, In The Army Now, Ain't Complaining and Perfect Remedy. I'm still quite fond of those albums, although they are admittedly pretty lightweight in nature. As a keen teenage rock disciple though, it didn't take me too long to discover that, when it comes to Quo, if you want the genuine article, then you need to travel back to the previous decade, to the Frantic Four era.

The Frantic Four. What a line-up. Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan. Just typing those names gives me goosebumps. Only two of them are still with us. Rick Parfitt passed away on Christmas Eve 2016, and Alan Lancaster left us just last weekend. God bless you Alan, in some respects you were the conscience of the band.

The Frantic Four were born in 1970, when organ player Roy Lynes quit Quo, whittling them down to a quartet. A much-needed change in musical direction soon followed, prompted by hearing The Doors' Roadhouse Blues for the first time whilst on tour in Germany. Almost overnight Quo transformed from a psychedelic pop band into an altogether weightier outfit that would, in time, attain hard rock immortality.

It took them a couple of albums to really find their feet, including 1971's underrated Dog Of Two Head. A shift of record label turned out to be a major catalyst for the band, the move from Pye to Vertigo immediately bearing fruit in the form of 1972's awesome Piledriver, a barnstorming album that propelled Quo right up onto the 'a-list' here in the UK. Piledriver set a template for Quo to follow over the next five years, 1972 to 1976 unquestionably representing the band's peak years. Hard-driving, boogie-fuelled rock, mixed with a light and shade dynamic that the band's critics constantly refused to acknowledge the existence of.

1973's Hello! was Piledriver's follow-up. It's another slab of quintessential Quo. Another blast of pretension-free, blue-collar rock'n'roll, that, once again, resonated deeply with the band's, by now huge, working class fan-base. These fans didn't care a toss about the opinions of snobby journalists at the NME, constantly ignoring the sniping and voting with their feet. We've got Roll Over Lay Down and Caroline on here. We've got quality deep cuts like Softer Ride and And It's Better Now on here. Then, there's the album's crowning glory, the epic Forty-Five Hundred Times. It bugs me that later reissues also include Joanne tagged on at the end. Nothing should be allowed to follow Forty-Five Hundred Times.

Hello! is also a product of purer, more innocent, days. Earlier, I mentioned that Alan Lancaster was possibly the conscience of Quo. That's because the later, Rossi and Parfitt-led version of the band became harder to take seriously the longer the 90s wound on and beyond. Always brilliant live - I first saw them at Blackpool's Winter Gardens in December 1993 - Quo nevertheless almost grew to resemble a cabaret band in many other respects. At times, Rossi and Parfitt seemed quite content to go along for the ride with some very questionable, distinctly non rock'n'roll, publicity stunts and projects, many of which cheapened the Quo name for me.

The Anniversary Waltz, the creatively bankrupt covers albums, the collaboration with Scooter, the appearance on Coronation Street, 'down, down, prices are down', Bula Quo!, etc. Despite my love for the band, I do wish that Quo had handled their legacy a little better than they have at times.

We'll always have the Frantic Four era though. Both Piledriver and Hello! come extremely highly recommended, as do Quo (1974), On The Level (1975), Blue For You (1976) and the phenomenal Live! (recorded 1976, released 1977). Quo forever!

Andrew Cumming: Great choice and great album. I think I also would have picked out Piledriver, but that's a minor quibble. Great album. I think people forget what a great band Status Quo were in the early/mid 70s. That run of albums from Piledriver to Blue For You is just so strong - and such a long way from - sad to say - the pale imitation they became. These 70s albums should rank alongside anything from any classic rock band.

Erik Mooney: I feel like they really found their own sound with this album. The opening tracks on both sides are the clear stand-outs (Roll Over Lay Down, and Caroline) but there really isn't a bad song on this album. Always loved the more rock'n'roll style of Blue Eyed Lady.

Ernie Woodhall: A great album by a band who were already a very tight unit. The arrangements were already complex (and by the time of Blue For You were excellent) but it's a classic album with many classic tracks.

Mike Canoe: To only know Status Quo by their 1977 live album (an excellent year one club pick) is to only know them as fine purveyors of boogie and bludgeon. While (slightly) less thunderous versions of Caroline, Roll Over Lay Down, and Forty-Five Hundred Times are here, the rest of Hello! is a lot of fun too.

Status Quo are about as pure and unpretentious as you can get. There is a palpable feeling of joy in the band making and playing rock'n'roll. I would love to hear live versions of Reason For Living, Blue Eyed Lady, and, especially Softer Side. Who can't identify with that song? While not what I think of as a typical Quo song, I love the chiming And It's Better Now. The surprisingly deep lyrics of Reason For Living are a nice change of pace too.

Status Quo are one of those classic UK bands that I knew only from various rock encyclopaedias long before I ever heard a note of their music. In these halcyon days of Spotify and YouTube, it's hard to remember how virtually unavailable Status Quo was in the U.S. Even now, their '70s discography on Spotify in the U.S. is pretty spotty - no Piledriver or Quo, for instance. But Hello! is there. And I'm glad it is.

Wade Babineau: The mighty Quo! Living in Canada, I was not exposed to Status Quo as much as fans in in the UK, Europe, etc were. My first time seeing/hearing them was the Live Aid show. I was immediately hooked by the straight-forward boogie of their sound. 

A few years later I found Live At The NEC at a local record store and bought it. Near wore that out. The when I was living in Ontario I came across the From the Makers Of box set (still have it) and the purchase was made. 

Since then I've collected all the studio and most of the live output of the group. For me this is prime-time Quo... Kicks off with the plundering opener of Roll Over Lay Down to the pub feel of Claudie and Reason For Living and shifts gears again with Blue Eyed Lady and continues with the perennial concert opener Caroline. Softer Ride continues the assault and then it's almost like a bit of a breather with And It's Better Now before the final push over the cliff with Forty-Five Hundred Times. Easily come back to listen to this many times over the years. 10/10

John Davidson: It is what it is .. bar room boogie played well. Honest, blue jean rock with no frills and little in the way of innovation.

It sounds a bit weedy compared to their live tracks. I think that's where Quo really excelled (as did many of their contemporaries).Their live performances were full of a fire that transcended the limited ambitions of the music. On the album, though, with the exception of the more famous tracks, they all sound a bit tame and workmanlike.

David Jones: An absolute classic rock album that typified the sound of the Frantic Four. Not a bad track on it. Great choice. 

Roy Bish: An all time classic that should be in everyone's collection. There's not a bad track on here, and most are live show staples.

Cameron Gillespie: Timeless! Not just the album, but the band! Status Quo are one of a few bands that lacks an unbearable song, everything is just good old rock'n'roll. and this album is no exception. Roll Over Lay Down, Caroline, and Softer Ride are Quo classics. The thing about this album - and every Quo album - is that every track is graced with that infectious groove they seem to find every time. You just can't help but tap along. Great Pick of the week!

Ian Nicholson: Great album. First time I saw Quo live was on the tour to promote this album. That gig was at The Rainbow Theatre, and they were so loud that my ears rang for a week. Cracking gig though.

Michael Toal: What an album. This is one of the first albums I ever listened to and it laid the foundation for my love of rock'n'roll. And finished off with the masterpiece that is Forty-Five Hundred Times.

Fred Varcoe: Of course they rocked before Piledriver but that album crystallised what they could do. Saw them on a dull afternoon at the 72 Reading Festival (good boogie, great rendition of In My Chair) and then the following year when they were a different kettle of fish and really rocked. Their live shows were pretty awesome after that. But 8/10 for Hello!.

Philip Qvist: Confession: Status Quo are one of those bands where a greatest hits compilation is more than enough for me, but there are some exceptions - and Hello! is one of those exceptions.

It starts with the great Roll Over Lay Down, it contains the rollicking Caroline, and ends with the epic Forty-Five Hundred Times - a song that begs for longer airplay, which the band duly delivers on their Live! album.

And in between? Not a single filler to be found. In my humble opinion, this is Quo's best album.

What I also noticed is the number of songwriting collaborations between the band members, with all of them getting a credit, which I reckon is a big reason for this being a strong album. 8.5/10 for me.

Uli Hassinger: Status Quo were huge in Europe in the 70s, hardly a teen's room without a poster of them on the wall. Rockin' All Over The World was one of the biggest hits of the 70s.

This album belongs to their best. I would prefer Piledriver or Quo but this one is strong too. The opener Roll Over Lay Down is own of the best rock songs of the 70s. On the live album the song is even stronger. Caroline is probably the blueprint for boogie-woogie Quo. Forty-Five Hundred Times is also a highlight of 70s hard rock. Not a bad song on the album. It's 8/10 for me.


Final Score: 7.89/10 (85 votes cast, with a total score of 671)

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