Friday 25 January 2019

Status Quo - Down Down & Dirty at Wacken (2018)

Country: UK
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 17 Aug 2018
Sites: Facebook | Official Website | Wikipedia

Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster formed the Scorpions while they were at school in Catford in 1962. When Rick Parfitt joined in 1967, they renamed the band to Status Quo and they've been that for over half a century with a surprisingly consistent lineup. Rossi is still there. Rhino Edwards replaced Lancaster in 1985 and Andy Bown officially joined in 1982. Richie Malone is the new guy in the band, having replaced the late Parfitt on guitar in 2016. Even Leon Cave is only the sixth Quo drummer, having joined in 2013.

I haven't seen Quo live since 1991 but they still sound pretty good to me on this live album recorded at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany in 2017. Then again, how many bands have racked up over 6,000 shows on the road? Yeah, I'm coming up dry too.

This is one of two live albums released simultaneously that highlight just how versatile the Quo appeal is. Wacken is a metal festival, so Quo would have been one of the quieter bands on a line up that also included Napalm Death, Mayhem and Candlemass, among many others. They came on after Ross the Boss but before Volbeat. Before Softer Ride, Rossi jokes about how he wonders why they're on the roster too, but the audience responds enthusiastically.

That other album though? Well, it's Down Down & Dignified at the Royal Albert Hall, which, as I write, is preparing to present the London Community Gospel Choir. Not too many bands could get away with playing those two venues! Who else could get away with singing, "I never knew there were honky tonk angels" at Wacken? Who else on the Wacken bill is going to be invited to play a command performance for the Queen?

While the no nonsense set does venture forward as far as Beginning of the End, originally released on their In Search of the Fourth Chord album in 2007, most of it is culled from the heavier earlier albums that I go back to reasonably often; I ran through Piledriver, Quo and Hello twice in 2018 and I almost did that again after listening to this.

If I'm not mistaken, the second most recent song represented is 1986's In the Army Now, which is over thirty years old now, even though I still think of that as "new Quo". I'd say I'm really dating myself but a couple of tracks included in the What You're Proposin' medley go way back. I was only eight months old when Railroad came out on Dog of Two Head and I wasn't even a glint in my dad's eye when Down the Dustpipe saw its first release as a single in March 1970.

It's good to hear this old material revisited recently by a new band and they got an agreeably good response from the Wacken audience. They even sing along loudly to In the Army Now, even though it sounds a lot softer than the rest of the set. The highlights are the up tempo tracks like Roll Over Lay Down, Down Down and What You're Proposin'. Those songs were good old fashioned heads down rock 'n' roll boogie back in the seventies and my head's still banging to them in 2018.

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