Shine My Machine
Official Suburbian Superman
I Wanna Be Your Man
All Shook Up
Sticks & Stones
Skin Tight Skin
Get Back Mama
Shakin' All Over
The crucial turning point in Suzi Quatro's career came in early 1973. Songwriter/producer Mike Chapman happened to be sitting in the Rak Records reception area when she walked by.
“Mike said: ‘Who’s that cute girl there?’", remembers Suzi. "And Mickie said: ‘That’s my secret weapon, she’s gonna be a huge star,’” she remembers. “Mickie played Mike Rolling Stone, which was my first single for Rak, a low-key kinda song. Mike said: ‘That’s a surprise, I thought she was going to be really ballsy, that’s what she looks like.’ And that was a lightbulb moment for Mickie.”
Chapman and his songwriting partner Nicky Chinn came up with the song Can The Can for Quatro. Feral, rampant and infinitely commercial, it reached No.1 in the UK in June 1973.
The album that followed in October was more of the same: no-nonsense, oozing gusto and sex appeal, and a huge voice completing the package.
Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute.
Other albums released in October 1973
- For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night - Caravan
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
- These Foolish Things - Bryan Ferry
- Cyan - Three Dog Night
- Selling England by the Pound - Genesis
- Moondog Matinee - The Band
- Mystery to Me - Fleetwood Mac
- Time Fades Away - Neil Young
- Wake of the Flood - Grateful Dead
- Live in Europe - Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Montrose - Montrose
- Hat Trick - America
- Pin Ups - David Bowie
- Quadrophenia - The Who
- Frampton's Camel - Peter Frampton
- All American Boy - Rick Derringer
- Ashes Are Burnin - Renaissance
- At the Rainbow - Focus
- Full Sail - Loggins and Messina
- Gone Crazy - Grin
- Inside Out - John Martyn
- The Joker - Steve Miller Band
- Laid Back - Gregg Allman
- Marjory Razorblade - Kevin Coyne
- Nine - Fairport Convention
- On the Road - Traffic
- Please Don't Ever Change - Brinsley Schwarz
- Sweet Revenge - John Prine
- Takin' My Time - Bonnie Raitt
What they said...
"This woman sings I Wanna Be Your Man and All Shook Up without gender changes, although she does rewrite a line of the latter so that she's "queer as a bug." But nothing in her own songwriting equals the one-riff rock of the two Chapman-Chinn singles, especially 48 Crash, and the last time I got off on someone dressed entirely in leather was before John Kay started repeating himself. (Robert Christgau)
"On this, her full-length debut, Quatro tackles a couple ambitious covers – I Wanna Be Your Man, a Beatles tune she takes to a different realm by twisting the sound into something downright dirty – a ripping guitar solo in the middle gives a lovey-dovey McCartney-Lennon tune a more aggressive, hard rock sound. All Shook Up, written by Elvis, is just damn hot." (The Snipe News)
"Her debut album in 1973 was among the wildest that year. Raw, aggressive and sexy rock, delivered by a small- sized woman with the balls of a mammoth. A stick to the basics approach is evident here, all the way from the front cover to the music, four people dressed in leather and playing on ten." (Sputnik Music)
What you said...
James Thomas James: This is the first album that I ever bought, and it is still a great album. I bought the Australian version which included the track Can The Can and the album was called... Can The Can. My favourite tracks are 48 Crash and Glycerine Queen.
Jonathan Novajosky: I didn't have high hopes for this one but I went in with an open mind. My general takeaway is that so many songs sound the same to me with a few exceptions like Rolling Stone. I felt drained by Suzi's almost restrained screaming vocals by the end of these twenty songs. I'm sure my opinion is in the minority, but definitely not for me. 5/10
Richard Cardenas: Nice. There are a ton of hard-rocking women that don’t get their due. Suzie opened my eyes to the possibilities of women rocking without boundaries. For me, the Runaways soon followed and a favourite genre was cemented, although I hate to distinguish by gender.
Mike Knoop: When our intrepid club guides and admins opened the request line, I submitted a lot of albums, a lot of albums. But I didn't list favourite albums of mine I wanted you to hear, I listed albums I was curious about that I never got around to exploring on my own.
So, when Suzi Quatro popped up, at first I was like, "Oh, cool." Then I was like, "Oh, crap. I hope this album actually rocks!." Fortunately, yes, Suzi Quatro, (or Can The Can, depending on where you were on the map) rocks. I have a real sweet tooth for glam, so 48 Crash, written by the glam songwriting team of Chapman/Chinn starts things off well, same with their Primitive Love.
The formula keeps humming on the Suzi Quatro/Len Tuckey originals: punchy riffs, punchier drums, song title chanted as chorus, finish in under four minutes; repeat. Of the three covers, I really only like the gender-bending take on the Beatles, I Wanna Be Your Man.
Pianist Alastair McKenzie is the secret (?) weapon here, embellishing the admittedly simple songs, whether boogie woogieing on Shine My Machine and Can The Can or veering to something close to glam prog on Skin Tight Skin.
Like most glam bands, or honestly, most bands in general, Suzi Quatro and the boys had a relatively short half-life and a compilation album of hers I have is rounded out with some pretty sappy 70's pop. But for a while there, the little lady with the big bass and the burly band had everywhere in the free world but the U.S. by its ear.
Billy Master: Really can't get this one. I don't see this as glam rock, simply because of the time it was released, although Glycerine Queen does borrow unashamedly from T- rex. Awful, flat production with cardboard box drums and building site backing vocals. Great singles band maybe, should have left it at that.
John Davidson: I was around 10 years old when Suzi Quatro hit the charts and I liked her music enough to spend pocket money on a Top Of The Pops album containing Can the Can.
Despite the disappointment of discovering that these albums were cheap knock off versions by session musicians rather than the original artists that's as close as I ever came to owning a Suzi Quatro record.
In terms of this album, I confess low expectations.
Much like Bolan's T. Rex, Quatro was famous as a pop friendly rocker who produced singles hits, rather than "proper" rock albums.
So I was half expecting 10 variations of Can The Can or 48 Crash. To that extent I was only half right.
Although about half of the songs are in the glam pop rock style, the music has more of a rock'n'roll jukebox feel than that would suggest and there is at least one out and out album track and a few that come close.
It's no shock that the hit singles would place SQ on a rock'n'roll spectrum half way between Mud and The Sweet given the song writing duo of Chapman and Chinn wrote the hits for all three bands. But, to her and her band's credit, the album tracks (mostly written by Quatro and guitarist Len Tuckey) have some nice flourishes.
The guitar work on Shine My Machine for example is pretty decent.
The three cover songs all have merit and rather than simply acting as filler, they allow the band to flex a bit. The guitars, piano/ and keyboards on these tracks are among the highlights.
Primitive Love is an odd one. It starts and ends with the ''title as chorus' sung repeatedly over tribal drum patterns (foreshadowing Ant Music and perhaps Marco Pirroni's entire career) but has a keyboard led instrumental middle section that wouldn't sound out of place on a song by The Doors.
Get Back Mama is a solid bluesy chugger, with some nice guitar work and even a bass led instrumental section.
What lets it (and many of the songs on the album) down is the production, which is largely one dimensional and sounds more suited to a jukebox or mono radio than a stereo system. Compare this to last week's review of Spirit and you can see this was a financial or artistic choice rather than a technical constraint from the time.
The standout track is Skin Tight Skin which sounds like it belongs on a Sheryl Crow album and is far and away the most ambitious song on the album. I wish she'd done more of this ( maybe she did).
The rest are never complete clunkers though the bonus tracks (other than Can The Can and Rolling Stone) sail pretty close.
What the performances lack (by and large) is any attack. At the time it was ever so slightly edgy to have a leather jump suited girl signing rock n roll but by modern standards it's all very safe and almost rock by numbers. The other letdown, surprisingly/ sadly is Suzi Quatro's vocal style. With only a couple of exceptions the phrasing is non existent and the vocals are delivered as a throaty squeal or muted shout that, particularly when combined with the repetitive nature of the lyrics, gets tired very quickly.
That said, I enjoyed exploring this. It's not a classic album by any stretch but it did show there was more to Suzi Q than I saw on Top Of The Pops and I will add Skin Tight Skin to my classic track playlist.
Roland Bearne: When I was a pre-pubescent male of the species there were some women who gave me a "funny feeling in my tummy". Chris Evert and Suzi Quatro particularly. Having said that, I don't think I have ever listened to an entire Suzi Q album!
Now as a nearly 55-year old I have! And what fun, oh gosh, what fun! This album rocks, rolls, grooves, pops in, souls out. It's very much of its time, a brilliant combo of 70s Brit Rock with Suzi's American groove blended in beautifully. Mike Knoop, thank you for the most fun I've had on a listen with this group. Moving house, so a tough week, but this just made me smile, beginning to end.
Brian Carr: When I first fired up Suzy Quatro’s debut this week, I looked at the album after a couple of songs and said “holy crap, there are 20 songs on this?” And we’re not talking Ramones songs; it’s more than an hour long! So is Suzy Quatro worth that kind of time investment?
Well, the short answer for me is ‘no.’ An edit job could have made the album much more effective. Sticks & Stones is so bad it made me want to pack it in, but persistence was rewarded a song later with the excellent Skin Tight Skin. Overall, the songs are unremarkable, as is her voice. There is some quality guitar playing throughout, even if it is often buried in shoddy production. I was back and forth between thinking the piano provided a nice Faces kind of vibe and “enough already!” with its relentless pounding.
For its flaws, the album is fun with attitude and balls. I can definitely hear how it’s influence on rocking women (and probably men, too) for years to come.
Gary Claydon: Much as I liked 70s glam Suzi Q never quite did it for me (on a music level!). With bands like The Sweet and Slade, if you scratched beneath the enjoyable hit singles there was a proper rock band lurking. I never felt that with SQ. Away from the Chinnychap hits I just thought her stuff was a bit lightweight. Standout track here for me is Skin Tight Skin. Think the production lets it down as well.
Steady but unspectacular about sums this album up for me.
Final Score: 6.29⁄10 (87 votes cast, with a total score of 548)
Join the Album Of The Week Club on Facebook to join in. The history of rock, one album at a time.