Riding on a big white butterfly....
Released December 1972
Recorded at IBC Studios, London
Status Quo had progressed from being a late sixties psychedelic rock group, through dabbling with some folky, melodic, subtle sounds to eventually stumbling across that trademark blues-boogie, guitar-driven sound that would serve them well over the next God knows how many years. This was the first album that would really lay down the foundations of that style, consistently.
There were still quieter passages on the album, though, showing that they hadn’t quite shaken off that early seventies hippy habit that affected so many groups, but to a much greater extent, this was Status Quo discovering that riff-driven guitar sound for almost the first time. (Although, to be fair, they had done so on Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon and Dog Of Two Head, it has to be said). It is quite a bluesy album however, overall, with a full, punchy rock sound.
1. Don't Waste My Time
2. Oh Baby
3. A Year
4. Unspoken Words
5. Big Fat Mama
6. Paper Plane
7. All The Reasons
8. Roadhouse Blues
The opener, Don't Waste My Time is a typical Status Quo rocker, everything one would come to expect from them, with the obvious riff and what would soon become Francis Rossi’s instantly recognisable slightly nasal vocals. A powerful rocking beginning that was continued in the solid, bluesy and bassy Cream/Traffic-influenced Oh Baby. This is a track with some seriously potent blues instrumental passages. A Year is a slow ballad, very much in the vein of The Who’s Behind Blue Eyes, particularly in the guitar intro (you expect Roger Daltrey to start singing), while Unspoken Words has that afore-mentioned subtlety of approach not usually associated with Status Quo. It almost sounds John Lennon-ish in places. A great blues guitar intro here should not be overlooked. Unfortunately then the voice kicks in. Rossi never really had a great voice, though, bluesy material like this was far better served by a Paul Rodgers, Rod Stewart or Roger Daltrey. These are pretty good, powerful songs that are slightly let down by the comparatively weak voice.
Big Fat Mama is a fast-paced typically chugging rocker, with an interesting instrumental part half way through, that was almost “prog rock” in its feel. The song finishes with some classic heavy Quo riffing, however. An early Quo classic.
Paper Plane was the album’s only single, and was a medium-sized hit, and the first one to really familiarise the public with that Status Quo sound. Listening to this, it could only be one band. I remember when it came out, you thought that was what Status Quo sounded like, and you expected the same next time around. They were not Slade, David Bowie or Alice Cooper. They were Status Quo, and they now had their own distinct musical identity.
All The Reasons begins like early seventies Steeleye Span or The Strawbs and then progresses into a melodic, light rock ballad with some admittedly heavy bass and drum backing at times. This really is quite an inventive piece of work, with more folky/prog bits in the final instrumental refrain. It certainly is no standard 12-bar blues rocker. Roadhouse Blues is, though. A solid cover of The Doors’ classic blues rocker to finish. A great harmonica/deliberately lighter vocal part half way through.
Overall, a solidly impressive blues rock album, but containing some interesting, unexpected musical diversions. I don’t play it too often, but every time I do, I enjoy it.