Coming of age in the early 70s there was always something a bit ‘training wheels’ about Status Quo. More often than not, those neophyte punters who discovered an inner affinity for the sound of the bravely struck guitar did so while riding the metaphoric tricycle of a Sweet single.
The coming-of-rock-age experience of thumbing one’s Levi belt-loops to Caroline was as essential a part of any glam-weaned teen’s passage to manhood as bolting on the stabilisers prior to the acquisition of a big boy’s bike. As with openly aching for a return to your intermediate, four-wheeled fairy cycle, it was widely frowned upon (once you’d graduated to the sleek racer of Zeppelin or the gawdy Chopper of the New York Dolls) to express an ounce of nostalgia for your carefree days free-wheeling through life on the safe, rock-lite boogie’n’roll of the reliably uncomplicated Quo.
A generation of over-compensating former Quo fans then appeared compelled to turn on the heroes of their adolescence. Cue a decade of wearisome three-chord jokes. But, as any connoisseur of rock will surely attest, as with undercarriage inches, it’s not how many that’s important, it’s what you do with them. And no-one nails a riff like the Quo. Especially this Quo.
When Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan lock into a muscular groove they’re an irresistible force, metronomic precision allied to undeniable swing invariably pounded into posterity via gutsy, honest productions that perfectly suit the organic warmth of vinyl. The Quo sound stuttered toward a sonic signature for 10 years before three minutes and 22 seconds into 1972’s Piledriver album, the guitar frontline enjoyed a Don’t Waste My Time eureka moment that informed the rest of their, and rock’s, decade.
The nine albums that follow here (one being the inevitable Live! double) offer slightly diminishing returns following Piledriver’s career-defining follow-up Hello, but all harbour their fair share of classics, from the glorious Big Fat Mama, through lengthy magnum opus Forty-Five Hundred Times to the sublime Just Take Me. Not to mention all the hits. You know what they are. And if you don’t? Shame on you for believing the self-loathing inkies who lied about Television being a better guitar band.
Quo, especially ripe for rediscovery since shining an acoustic spotlight on their legacy, were never merely a means to an end, nor a childish thing to be set aside at the first wisp of whisker. At their peak, as beautifully curated here, they were the very best a man could get.