Is there a better way....
Released March 1976
Running time 37.09
Since parts of 1970's Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon, Status Quo had been producing albums of riffy, relentless guitar-driven boogie for six years. This was probably the last in that great run of albums, they moved, after this, towards a more laid-back poppy sound and became "national treasures", known by everyone - "good old Quo". Here, they are still a credible, heavy but accessible rock band and, as punk took off around them, the album still found a fair amount of acceptance. After all, those riffs were nothing if not punky, weren't they? Quo rode out the punk storm, rarely being lumped in as "boring old farts", probably because of their deafening loud riffing and general "don't give a fuck" attitude. Thin Lizzy fell into the same category.
In 1976-77, while I listened to David Bowie's "Low" and "Heroes", The Clash's first album, The Ramones and Patti Smith I still also listened to this and enjoyed it. It was loud, rocking and uncompromising. What was not to like?
1. Is There A Better Way
2. Mad About The Boy
3. Ring of Change
4. Blue For You
6. Rolling Home
7. That's A Fact
8. Ease Your Mind
9. Mystery Song
Is There A Better Way is typical Quo fare - a brief, slow-ish intro that bursts out in to the usual heads-down Quo riffage. As was also quite regular was a "bridge" in the middle where the pace slows down before it launches full-tilt back into the original riff. Mad About The Boy is Quo blues rock, which is slightly different (admittedly not by much) to Quo regular rock. There are small differences - the blues rockers contain no bridges or instrumental quiet doodling bits. Ring Of Change is classic poppy Quo rock (another sub-genre!). It is very much is the frantic Down Down/Caroline style. I cannot help but like it. The pace and attack doesn't let up from beginning to end.
On every album, Quo slowed down a bit and they do here on the gentle, melodic slow rock of Blue For You. There is something a bit McCartney-esque with tinges of Lennon too about it. The cymbal work is great and emphasises that Quo could do subtle if they wanted to. There is a great rock guitar solo in the middle as well.
Rick Parfitt's Rain is wonderful Quo blues rock - solid, heavy, loud but catchy too. The great thing about Quo is that many who would not necessarily like blues rock seemed fine with Quo. Disco girls would be happy to sing along with Quo on the radio. Rolling Home is a fast-paced, punky workout, sort of glam meets punk with some Celtic-sounding Thin Lizzy guitar in places too. That's A Fact is a slower, but still muscular number. Ease Your Mind, while still riffy, gives a hint at the poppier sort of material the next decade would bring.
Mystery Song is an excellent closer, with a suitably mysterious, laid-back intro that eventually leads into a classic, headbanging riff. The track is full of all sorts of other changes in pace and instrumental ingenuity. It demonstrates Quo's cleverness as composers and musicians while still retaining some of their trademark sound. The non-album single The Wild Side Of Life is excellent as well. For the last in a classic run of Status Quo albums, this was a really good one. Stick it on and rock for forty minutes.