As you may recall from a recent post, I’m off to see Status Quo do an acoustic set tonight, so I thought, as a special treat, I’d do a special Quo-tastic Friday Night Music Club for you tonight.
No, wait, come back!!
When I say a special Quo-tastic post, I mean one which features absolutely no songs by Status Quo whatsoever. And yet, (cue the Twilight Zone music), all of them are.
You all know I have a pathological, some might say inexplicable, love of The Quo. You all also know I love cover versions too. So what we have here are ten songs which the double-denimed, perennially unfashionable, septum-less wonders (Only one of them has lost their septum through cocaine abuse – Legal Ed) have covered in their really rather long career.
If you were so inclined, you can split the Quo’s history into five stages:
- The Pre-Fame Years (up to 1967)
- The Psychedelic Pop Years (1968 – 1969)
- The Just Discovered How to Play their Signature Hard Rock/Boogie Years (1970 – 1971)
- The Very Succesful Years (or “The Seventies” as they’re more commonly known)
- Everything Else After That
If I’m honest, I could easily have compiled this list exclusively from the first two stages, but where would be the fun in that? I’ll be flitting between them, so please don’t expect me to be so organised as to have posted the songs in the order they covered them; instead I’ve gone for what I hope is an aesthetically pleasing running order instead.
So, belt yourself in, here we go:
Throughout their career, Quo have tried to cover records which weren’t hits in the UK, and this is a prime example: a hit for The Brothers Gibb in Australia in 1966, and in New Zealand, Japan, Germany and Netherlands a year later. Quo covered it on their first album, when they were still called The Status Quo, “Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from The Status Quo” which came out in 1968. No prizes for guessing which single they were cashing in on with that album title, eh?
From the same album, which featured the band perched atop a mountain of Swan Vestas matchboxes (See what they did there? Matchsticks!), comes this little ditty:
Also released in 1967, this peaked at No 7 in the UK charts but made No 1 in the USA and Canada.
Time for me to ‘fess up now, this next one is a bit of a cheat by me, as it was written for the Quo when they were still wearing slightly awkward Carnaby Street gear on Top of The Pops, but the writer also recorded a version of it himself. Anyway, this is my list and let’s be honest, none of you are actually reading this anyway so I can make the rules up as I go along if I like:
Yes, that Marty Wilde. Father of 80s pop vixen Kim (who I once served in a motorway ‘restaurant’ when she was on tour supporting some chap called Michael Jackson. Dunno what happened to him).
(Quo’s version reached No 8 in the UK charts in 1968, by the way. Like you care.)
Now, by the end of the 1960s, the boys had shrewdly worked out that the brand of psychedelic bubble-gum pop they had been peddling thus far, and become famous for, was not going to remain popular for much longer (by which I mean, their hits had already dried up). They started searching for a new sound which would supply them with the commercial longevity they desired, and stumbled across it one night in a bar somewhere in Europe (Germany or Netherlands, I think), where they found themselves entranced watching two people dance to a chugging epic featuring a harmonica and a singer with a propensity for getting his knob out on stage (is that why he was called The Lizard King, do you think…?) who was arguably past the peak of his powers by the time this came out in 1970. This lot, and this song, in fact:
If any of you already have a healthy dislike for The Doors, well, you can add them being responsible for pretty much all of Quo’s recording career post-1970 to your list of reasons for hating them. You’re welcome.
Quo covered “Roadhouse Blues” on their 1972 break-through album “Piledriver”, but by then they had already released two other albums where they had honed their new sound: 1971’s “Dog of Two Head” and 1970’s “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon”, from which this next one is lifted:
We all remember Steamhammer, right? Nope, me neither.
Okay, so let’s move on to some other songs they covered later in their career by people you have heard of. Here’s Tom Jones:
…and here’s Elvis Presley:
Those were covered by Quo in 1981 and 1983 respectively, both becoming UK Top 20 hits (reaching No 9 and No 15).
And, I don’t know if you know this, but Tom Jones knew Elvis Presley. You’d think he might mention that every now and again, wouldn’t you?
In the last few years (twenty years is “a few years”, right…?) they’ve released a couple of albums (1996’s “Don’t Stop” and 2003’s “Riffs”) which almost exclusively feature cover versions. I featured one of the covers in my How Not To Do a Cover Version thread here (be warned, both versions lurk there) and here’s another which just defies belief:
Finally, here’s two songs which have been amongst their biggest UK chart hits (No 2 in 1986 and No 3 in 1977 respectively) and, to return to a point I made earlier, I don’t think it’s a coincidence to learn that many people have no idea that either are cover versions:
And finally, the song that opened Live Aid in 1985, and the song which is practically their signature tune:
Footnote: on the night I first moved to London, and into a flat with Hel, we had quite a lot to drink. We ended up playing records and talking about music. The topic of which artiste would be our specialist subject were we ever to go onto Mastermind came up. Without pausing, I said: “The UK Chart Hits of Status Quo between 1968 and 1986”.
The challenge was on, as Hel then produced a copy of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles and proceeded to test me.
My display was dazzling; I would say I got around 98% of the questions right, correctly stating the year and chart number each single got to, but also adding who wrote each one, the album it was taken from and what track number it was on the album in question (facts which weren’t actually included in the reference book, but I was definitely right).
How she didn’t ask me to move out again immediately is beyond me.
I mention this because when writing this, I haven’t had to look up any of those years/chart positions (apart from the non-Quo ones). Still got it.
More soon (I’ll be here, even if you never darken my doorstep again after that).