Suzi Quatro: The Girl From Detroit City

There’s a lot more than just the hits on the glam queen’s career-spanning collection.

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A four-disc box set with the glitter-tastic catalogue number GLAMBOX 150, The Girl From Detroit City is a comprehensive celebration of Suzi Quatro’s 40-year music career. But many fans likely won’t venture beyond CD1. That’s because it’s the one with all the smash hits – 48 Crash, Daytona Demon, Devil Gate Drive et al.

It’s also got a handful of tracks from Quatro’s first band, the Pleasure Seekers (the best of which, Locked In Your Love, is reminiscent of a garage-band Supremes); some rough’n’tumble compositions by Suzi and husband No.1/Quatro band guitarist Len Tuckey; and a smattering of lesser-known-but-still-killer songs written by the Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman dream team.

But delve deeper and you’ll be rewarded by what can best be described as a rollercoaster listening experience. In truth, some very strange things begin to happen. Among them: a duet with The Troggs’ Reg Presley on Wild Thing that sounds like it was orchestrated by members of the Human League; an eyebrow-raising, bang-a-gong rendition of ABBA’s Does Your Mama Know, produced by Sweet guitarist Andy Scott; Curly Hair For Sale, a demo from 1971, which is reminiscent of Bobbie Gentry singing Cream’s back catalogue.

It goes on. You never know what to expect next, and the wild inconsistency of the collection is part of its charm. But it does make you wonder what Suzi was thinking of at times. Did someone say to her: “Look, I’ve got this song that was a hit for The Normal and Grace Jones. It sounds like a half-baked Kraftwerk and it’s called Warm Leatherette. You wear leather. Why don’t you record a version?” Whatever the back-story, Suzi did just that.

There are gems among the aberrations. Quatro’s nicely understated vocal on the Eagles’ Desperado is augmented by some delicious guitar playing by Jeff Beck. The countrified Stumblin’ In remains a guilty pleasure, as does its sibling If You Can’t Give Me Love. Lipstick, a brilliant stompalong mutant offshoot of Patti Smith’s Gloria, was performed by Suzi on an episode of Minder. But, as we read in the sleevenotes, a subsequent appearance on Cheggers Plays Pop “was unable to propel the song into the charts”.

A fragmented offering, then, but the entertainment gauge rarely strays from the red zone. At the end of it all you do wonder if someone like Rick Rubin should grab Quatro by the scruff of her neck and push her to make a classic contemporary album. Stranger things have happened, as The Girl From Detroit City proves comprehensively./o:p

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.