Thursday, 8 November 2018

Suzi Quatro - A's, B's & Rarities

  

In 1973, it really was unusual to see a woman, yes a woman, fronting a rock band. Yes there had been the wonderful Janis Joplin and "adult rock" artists like Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick and Curved Air's Sonja Kristina, but Suzi Quatro was a chart act. Until then it simply had not happened. I remember when she first appeared on "Top Of The Pops" doing "Can The Can". She was the talk of the playground the next morning, particularly for teenage boys like myself. "Did you see her?" was the question everyone asked.

This is an excellent compilation in the impressive RAK series (Hot Chocolate, Mud and CCS are others). It chronologically includes all the singles and the 'b' sides, plus a few rarities thrown in. The sound quality, as on all of them, is truly superb.

Suzi Quatro, leather-clad, with a tough-girl image, and backed by three heavy-set blokes had a totally unique image for the time and she put out, with the help of writers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, some excellent, rousing, glam rock singles. The songs were all based around a big, glam rock drum sound and lots of infectious guitar riffs and Suzi's strong rock voice. The great hit highlights are all here - the lyrically perplexing, nonsensical "Can The Can"; the equally bizarre but catchy "48 Crash";  the singalong glam of "Daytona Demon" with its typically glam drum backing and the now iconic huge number one, rollicking barroom fun of "Devil Gate Drive". "Too Big" and "The Wild One" are not quite so "glam", coming from 1974-75 when Chinn/Chapman decided to go more "adult" in their songwriting. They are both enjoyable and still singalong, but they don't have that drum-fuelled, goofy glam joie de vivre of the earlier singles.

Similarly, "Your Mamma Won't Like Me", her last hit from the glam age has Suzi going all smouldering and sexy, telling of how much she enjoys making love. As a teenage boy at the time, I loved hearing her admit to this.

An early song such as "Rolling Stone" is an AOR-style pleasant enough rock number, but it certainly hadn't caught on to the glam thing as yet. Neither had the bluesy rock of "Brain Confusion". "Ain't Got No Home" has Suzi channelling her inner Elvis as she often did. The 'b' sides are actually ok, much better than Mud's comparative self-penned (i.e. not Chinn-Chapman) offerings. "Ain't Ya Somethin' Honey" is a barroom style bluesy rocker. "You're looking prettier than me, what the hell you tryin' to be.." is a nice tongue-in-cheek line from Suzi. "Little Bitch Blue" is a muscular, thumping, solid rocker. It is clear that the "glam" songs of Chinn-Chapman were considered the singles material, money-makers, yet these tracks seem to be her bread and butter, the ones she preferred doing, showing that she could credibly rock. "Tear Me Apart" is one hell of a T. Rex "Get It On" rip-off, though. Strangely, the collection ends with two completely incongruous songs - the Spector-esque "Kids of Tragedy" and, would you believe a nine-minute soft rock number, "Angel Flight", complete with a drum solo and some orchestrated prog-rock stylings. Both the songs are actually quite enjoyable, as it happens.

B-

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