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Status Quo: The Frantic Four’s Final Fling

Souvenir live recording of last year's reunion shows

Released on the same day as an expanded version of the classic Live! album from 1977, The Frantic Four's Final Fling finds the fearsome foursome in fine form.

This is a heartfelt glance back at what Status Quo once were

The band’s ongoing and cheery ubiquity has served to mask the puzzling nature of their career. The last 24 months exemplify it though: they have seen the classic line-up, billed as the Frantic Four although introduced on stage as Status Quo, complete their second reunion tour, and also the release of Bula Quo, a comedy feature film of dubious quality and On The Buses jokes that joined a long list of stunts and gimmicks that have kept the other, somewhat more end of the pier version of the band in work. It is apparently the final time that the Rossi-Parfitt-Coghlan-Lancaster quartet will play together, although Francis and Rick know the value of a good farewell. They led Quo’s first ever ‘final show’ at Milton Keynes in 1984, so perhaps the Frantic Four’s Final Fling is just the thirtieth anniversary of that. When needs must, nothing in rock n roll is irreversible.

It’s about legacy and history Perhaps Status Quo are trying to reverse something else here: the slow withering of their reputation as one of this country’s defining hard rock bands. One thing is certain. It would be impossible to listen to this excellent live recording or watch its accompanying DVD without sensing the chasm that exists between the two line-ups. The Frantic Four are raw and relentless, fuelled by a genuine chemistry available only to the constituent parts and playing a set that panders not to commerce or expectation but to the integrity of the music that they once made together.

The set is a pointed indication of where the soul of Status Quo lies The opening four-shot of Junior’s Wailing, Backwater, Just Take Me and the magnificent Is There A Better Way is almost frenzied, and the show builds to a brutal conclusion full of pathos as they roll through Forty-Five Hundred Times, Roadhouse Blues and Caroline. They have omitted any whiff of the hits: even Down Down (which featured in the medley during the Frantic four’s 2013 shows), Whatever You Want and Rockin’ All Over The World are absent. That feels like a deeper separation of the two units, Frantic Four and Status Quo.

The commercial stunts will carry on In fact there is a new one promised very soon. It will chip away at the hearts of the Quo fans who adore the rich and greasy nostalgia that the Frantic Four have brought, but it was a bargain struck long ago. Back to the day job, lads.