Monday, June 17, 2013

SPAZ reviews STATUS QUO's Bula Quo! Two CD set available July 9th, 2013!

They may be celebrating their 50th Anniversary, but I became a STATUS QUO fan late in the game.  Back in '84, they were they first band to play Live Aid, which I watched pretty intently for much of the day.  Kicking off the show with "Rocking All Over The World", I was pretty much hooked on Quo then and there.  Already 20 years into their career, I definitely had quite a few albums to purchase at that point.  I've stuck with them ever since, buying every album, every hits collection, every CD and then every remastered CD.  And I'll buy every album, remaster or whatever until they stop releasing them. Which I hope never happens...

Well, OK, so I've avoided the live releases, but that's just because I don't care for live albums all that much.  In fact, I don't care for live albums at all! But I must say that I've seen many bands over the years during their heyday (XTC, The Jam, Split Enz, Squeeze, etc) but my absolute favorite live show of all time was Quo at the House Of Blues in Anaheim on February 27th, 2003.  Yes, the smallish club in Downtown Disney.  Quo usually never play anything smaller than a stadium in Europe and elsewhere, but I saw them live at this little club during the Heavy Traffic tour and it blew me away. Everything about that night was magical.  It was the greatest Rock 'n' Roll show I've ever experienced.  But then again, I think Status Quo are one of the greatest Rock 'n' Roll bands ever! 

Some say that Quo aren't as great as they used to be.  I beg to differ.  They are still releasing some great Rock records and I'll stand by every one of them.  Except for the live albums.  Oh, and the cover version albums.  I own them all but they released too many covers albums over the last 20 years and probably lost some fans because of it.  But when they release their albums of original material (which they've been doing pretty consistently for the last 10 years), they are all top notch in my book.  Even in the '90s when critics would rip them to shreds, they were still releasing great albums.  OK, so they weren't Piledriver, Hello! or Blue For You (or whatever '70s album you prefer) nor were they trying to be.  While Quo may have essentially stayed the same, they also changed things up a little bit, too. As they've grown older, the guys in Quo have grown wiser and perhaps a little more mellow, too.  They can't keep making the same record over and over again - although that is what people have said about them. While I read what critics have to say, I don't let the reviews impair my judgement.  I listen to each album with a fresh pair of ears.  I can't think of one Quo album of original material that I haven't loved over the years.  And, no, I'm not deaf!

So, when I heard Quo were making a movie, I thought it was a bit odd.  Why now?  I mean, didn't they stop making movies about bands unless it was a concert film or documentary?  Bula Quo, the movie, is a comedy with action, adventure and suspense and certainly not a movie about their real lives.  The move's tag line is "It started with guitars... And ended with guns!" And Jon Lovitz plays the main bad guy!  Huh?  Well, I will certainly see the movie if given the opportunity, but I'll have to wait until then to cast any judgement apart from that big question mark over my head.  Funny thing is, I've seen the previews and it looks kind of cheesy but I'm quite excited about it in the end.  I mean, this is Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt after all! By the way, it seems that band members Andrew Bown, John Rhino Edwards and Matt Letley have only minor roles in the film (but I can't say that for sure since I haven't seen it yet). 

So, just last week, I managed to get my hands on the soundtrack to the movie. It's a two CD set containing nine brand new Quo tracks written for the film plus a second disc containing a few oddities related to the film as well as live material from 2010.  And you know what?  It is pretty outstanding!  In fact, all nine of the tracks on Disc One are Quo at their best. The title track, "Bula Bula Quo" was the first single and is one of my favorite later period Quo tracks by far.  The 'Kua Ni Lega' bit is quite wonderful, to be honest.  The album's second single, "Looking Out For Caroline", is the band's 100th single and while it is pretty much a standard sounding Quo track, it worms its way into your head after the second or third listen. "GoGoGo" has a unique melody in the verses which makes the song a real standout. "Never Leave A Friend Behind" (GREAT backing/harmony vocals... is that you, Rhino?) and "Run & Hide (The Gun Song)" (that IS you, Rhino!) are bursting with great hooks and Rock 'n' Roll energy. The delectable island-flavored Rock of "Fiji Time" is another winner.  I could go on, you know, but I'll just come out and say that these 9 new Quo songs have had me hooked and I've been listening to them over and over again for a few days now and they are only getting better with each listen. Each of the five band members had a hand in writing various tracks on the album, so it's a well-rounded affair. Lyrically, all the songs seem to reference the plot/characters of the movie, so they were definitely all written specifically for this project.  Gets me excited to see the movie just to hear the songs in their proper context. 

Disc Two features a new recording of the glorious "Living On An Island", which may not reach the heights of the original, it is still exciting to hear a new twist to the track. The Bula Edit of "Rockin' All Over The World" is ace and may be the version I use from now on when I make my own Quo mixtapes. There are two tracks from their great Quid Pro Quo album from 2011. Rounding off the 2nd disc are live versions of six Quo classics like "Pictures Of Matchstick Men", "Caroline", "Whatever You Want" and "Down Down" (my personal favorite). Like I said, I don't care for live recordings, but these are pretty sweet.  Definitely great versions for someone listening to Quo for the first time here.  

So, while I wait to see the film, I'm more than elated over this soundtrack, which is quite a wonderful helping of Quo stew. I'd even go as far to say that this is my favorite Quo album since the one-two punch of original albums Under The Influence (1999) and Heavy Traffic (2002).

Highly recommended for fans of Rock 'n' Roll and Status Quo, which are basically one and the same!

Peace, Love and Quo,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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