Tag Archives: Status Quo

August 20th 1975

“Went to Roskilde. Sat on church steps eating dinner. Saw Viking Boat Museum”

Roskilde is perhaps best known for its annual music festival, an event that has been held on the city’s fairgrounds since 1971. It is the “Danish Glastonbury” and over its history it has featured headliners as varied as Status Quo, Weather Report, Bob Marley, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Nirvana. 

It is an ancient Viking city with detailed history dating back to the 980’s. No, not the 1980’s… a full thousand years earlier! 

Roskilde Cathedral – built in the 12th Century – is thought to have been the first gothic-style brick-built cathedral in the whole of Northern Europe and influenced the building of many others with the similar stylings. Since the 15th Century every Danish monarch has been buried there (after they have died, of course) 

In 1975 it was the scene of a most sacrilegious act, when a pair of spotty oiks sat on its steps and ate their dinner. 

Roskilde is also home to the “Vikingeskibsmuseet”, or Viking Boat Museum. Architecturally it is one of THE ugliest buildings I have ever had the misfortune to visit, but its contents are nothing short of breathtaking… even for someone as ignorant of history as I am. 

Museum, or outside toilet block? You decide.

In 1962 five viking ships were excavated from Roskilde Fjord and rebuilt to form the centerpiece of the museum. These five ships – varying in size from a simple cargo ship to a ship of war – were originally – and deliberately – sunk back in 1070 to help block and protect Roskilde and the surrounding seaway from attack. 

However, more important to me than all this other stuff about Roskilde, it was also where my Mum was born 45 or so years earlier.

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December 25th 1973

“Crismis Day – Got a guitar”

Evil child that I was, I always hunted for – and invariably found – my wrapped Crismis Christmas presents many weeks before Santa’s big day. Of course, as a result of them being wrapped I was not always 100% sure of the gifts inside but the size and shape of the packages was usually a giveaway.

However, I can honestly say that my parents genuinely surprised me with this guitar. (I later found out Dad had hidden it by hanging it inside one of his work suits, itself inside a suit hanging bag, at the back of their wardrobe)

This guitar was a half-sized model which – rather than learning to properly play – I instead posed with in front of whichever mirror I could find. Yes, I would adopt clichéd poses with it. Yes I would pretend I was a rock star and mime along with hits on it. I’d be a liar if I said otherwise.

Dad – with some considerable hope – also bought me Bert Weedon’s Play in a Day tutorial book in the vain hope that I would actually read it and learn how to properly bang out tunes on the guitar.

Instead I merely limited myself to bashing out the opening chords to Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” – or *ahem* variations thereof – imagining myself to be a kind of folksier Richie Blackmore. I also taught myself the irritatingly repetitive riff to Cream’s “Sunshine of your Love” as well as “the Status Quo riff”

Not whole songs I hasten to add, just the riffs. I could amuse myself for hours by doing this, as well as wildly improvising, creating noises with the strings (by rubbing bottles, pens and any other implements to hand over them) and messing with the tuning knobs. I was practising to be an avant garde savant.

As time progressed it was inevitable that the guitar would fall into less and less use. I remember that when I left home and moved into my first flat the guitar had become more of a repository for record label promo stickers than anything I picked up and played. I think the thing got damaged during – and was consequently thrown away – my next house move.

Years and years later – in the early 90’s – a girlfriend of mine decided that I needed a guitar so likewise bought me one as a Christmas gift. Again it was a nice surprise. This time the bonus was a complete set of guitar lessons with a local teacher. I opened the guitar bag and hefted this – now full sized – instrument out, popped on the strap, stood up and…..immediately played “Smoke on the Water”. This wasn’t going to end well.

It didn’t. The girlfriend & I broke up before I had the first lesson, and as she was paying for them I didn’t feel it prudent to push the point during our break-up negotiations.

Thus, the world can squarely blame her for England not having a “second Nick Drake” to fawn over.

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December 2nd/3rd 1973

• “Deck went wrong but somehow managed to fix it”
• “Borrowed Hello – alright / Speaker went up the toss”

There are those that might cynically comment that a broken record deck would be the best way to listen to Status Quo?!

Shame on those people! I wonder what was wrong with the deck and how I appear to have magically repaired it? Readers, I know you look to me for these answers, but all I do is then look over my shoulder for someone else who might be able to give me a clue!

“Hello” was Quo’s sixth studio album and the Number One follow-up to (what remains) my favourite of theirs: Piledriver, which I wrote about at some length back at the beginning of this year.

I remember it, but not with the same fondness or familiarity as their previous effort, however I’ll admit that the hit single “Caroline” is the worth price of admission alone. Its a rollicking Chuck Berry-esque number with a fabulous sing-along chorus…

The rest of the album was always a bit of a curate’s egg to me – and remains so, just a couple of other tracks copied across to my faithful i-Pod.

Roll Over Lay Down” chugs along at a lick too, even I have NEVER known what the hell Francis Rossi is singing about… apart from the chorus.

Softer Ride” is the other ‘must have’. I always love how it starts off as mellow as can be, then just finds its heavy self around a minute or so in. Its chorus of “I ain’t gonna work no more” suggests it should become my new personal theme tune?!

The other five tracks; “Claudie“, “A Reason for Living“, “Blue Eyed Lady“, “And It’s Better Now” and the 10-minute opus “Forty-Five Hundred Times” never really did it for me.

But yes, the cover of “Hello” IS alleged to have formed the “Smell the Glove” joke in “This is Spinal Tap“… theres something about this that’s so black, its like, how much more black could this be?, and the answer is….none…none…more black… actually I think there’s quite few more Quo-isms in that movie if you watch it hard enough?!

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April 26th 1973

“mark came up in morning, borrwd Deep P & St.Quo cassette and returned Tarkus. In afternoon went in – bort p. of trousers and went to thing at C66”

What was this C66?

What was the ‘thing’ there?

Do you often wonder why you’re still reading this?

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March 20th 1973

“Taped Piledriver + Sing Brother Sing”

I must have been extraordinarly particular about my recordings as I have talked about taping both of these albums several times before?!

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March 17th 1973

1.68 wages. Arm muted all day cos of injection. Couldn’t lift anything heavy. In evng recorded Status quo – tape recorder kept on going rong – still taped it

Hah… the boss fell for my feeble excuse

What I meant to say was WHAT an inconvenience it must’ve been to have a muted arm. Whatever the flip a muted arm might be?!

It was evidently a day for adversity what with my tape recorder going rong as well?!

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March 15th 1973

“In games Me + Trev lost to Nig + Pete 11-21, 21-17, 19-21” / “Borrowed Piledriver off Kristina F – Quite smart, gonna tape it” / “Borrowed hi-fi mag off Nig & lent him mine”

On the same day as it is suggested my table tennis prowess is unlikely to improve, my teenage musical tastes take yet another directional jolt.

Status Quo’s “Piledriver” is the only album of theirs I have ever owned. Cynics will doubtless comment that music fans only need one Quo album, the band’s sound somewhat… uhm… ‘similar’ across subsequent releases.

It wasn’t always like that. Formed originally in 1962, The Spectres (as they were first called) evolved into a british freakbeat combo of considerable note. In 1968 they released the psychedelic classic “Pictures of Matchstick Men” which was a huge hit both sides of the Atlantic.

The Vertigo Logo - Imagine this spinning on a turntable! Wooaaah!

Their late 60’s singles success was never matched by album sales, and they would have to wait until they signed to Vertigo Records (home of THE grooviest label logo ever!) in 1971 before their career took off.

“Piledriver” was released in 1972, introducing a self-produced MUCH heavier sounds which relied on familiar blues and blue boogie rhythms.

The lead-off single from the album was the defining “Paper Plane“, an instant hit of ‘classic’ status, and the first in a staggering unbroken sequence of 33 Quo singles which would enter the UK’s Top 40.

The album opens with “Don’t Waste My Time“, considered so anthemic over the years that, in 1985, the band included it in their set at Live Aid, encouraging the crowd to ‘see some hands on this’

Oh Baby” builds from a quiet start into 4+ minutes of growling blues boogie, whilst “A Year” proves that the band can mellow down a little bit, even if the melodies are a little too reminiscent of The Beatles.

Unspoken Words” is a traditional blues lament. It’s considered by many Quo fans as one of their best songs ever, so maybe I am in the minority when I state I find it quite ‘ordinary’?

Side Two’s opener “Big Fat Mama” is – “Paper Plane” notwithstanding – perhaps my favourite cut on the album. It chugs pure and simple. The lyrics are as trite as hell … “Say you need me, say you need me, Tell me that you want my love, Say you will be mine and I am yours” … but when it kicks into the third verse with its breaking riffs I can’t help adopt the traditional pose of air guitarists everywhere!

All the Reasons” breaks up side two’s apparently relentless party’n’beer atmosphere – it’s an uneventful so-slow so-so ballad – before we properly get back to it with a thundering cover version of “Roadhouse Blues“, a track written by The Doors, and which first appeared on their 1970 “Morrison Hotel” album.

Sure, I’ve dabbled in other Quo albums, but I kinda agree with the cynics that you really only need one… and I think this is the one to have.

Status Quo haven’t really changed their ‘act’ over the years, their sound and denim/waistcoat fashion combo proving strangely timeless. The core duo dynamic of the band – rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt and lead guitarist Francis Rossi – are still touring, still banging out albums and singles and still rolling about in their rock’n’boogie millions. Parfitt has undergone a quadruple heart by-pass and overcome throat cancer, whilst Rossi has appeared in “hair restoration” commercials, but nothing seems to affect or undermine their huge appeal across Europe, where they still sell out concert halls and stadiums.

I think there is whole hell of a lot of truth in the rumours that Rob Reiner’s heavy metal “mocumentary” “This is Spinal Tap” was based, in part, upon Status Quo. There IS something strangely similar between this and this, plus I’ll bet a few quid on the fact that Quo similarly never had an issue with turning their amps up to 11.

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