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STATUS QUO - Backbone

Release date September 6/19 (EAR Music)

Some 51 years after releasing their first album, Britain’s boogie masters Status Quo are back with their 33rd studio effort. Thankfully, this collection of songs is much closer to traditional Quo than the last few forgettable acoustic and sound track albums.

This being the first album since the death of founding member Rick Parfitt, the spotlight is squarely on sole remaining original member, lead guitarist/lead vocalist/principal songwriter Francis Rossi. And in the writing department Rossi has not disappointed. The song patterns will be well known to any Quo fan, and there is much comfort in the familiarity. However, what is lacking is a bit of edge. The band sounds like they are holding back on most of the songs, or maybe it is just old age mellowing them out. Keyboardist Andy Bown has been in the band for well over 40 years and bassist John Edwards joined in the mid-80s, so Rossi isn’t the only old timer represented here. The album could have been much more engaging, without changing any of the writing, if the performances had just sounded a little less restrained, and little more….reckless rock’n’roll.

In any event, there are some well crafted boogie-rock tracks in here, the best of which are “Cut Me Some Slack”, “I See You’re in Some Trouble”, “I Wanna Run Away With You” and “Get Out of My Head”. Opener “Waiting For a Woman” isn’t a bad song, but it is too subdued to start an album, sounding like 1980s Dire Straits, and should have been placed in the middle instead. The country tinged bonus track “Crazy, Crazy” makes you shake your head saying to yourself “what were they thinking?”, until you realize that you're tapping your foot and humming along.

And that is really what this album is like. Old school Quo fans who think the band haven’t put out a good album since 1981 will hate this album (if they ever hear it). But for those of us who have continued to enjoy the band’s albums over the last 30 or 40 years, you will probably initially think this is a half-hearted effort, until you catch yourself humming the tunes two days later. Stick with this album. Play it a few times and you will find it's a grower. Not great, but this band ain’t dead yet.

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