Rocket science it’s not, but the alchemy is as reliable as it ever was.
Mike Diver 2011
As British as damp holidays and warm ale, Status Quo are a national institution. For many, success is fleeting and careers against the clock. Yet the Quo press on, core duo Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt having boogied down to their unfaltering brand of good-time rock’n’roll for too many years for a man to count on their hands and toes – and then those of their best mate, too. Borders have shifted and walls have fallen, trends have moved at a rapid rate, yet the Quo remain the same, steadfastly committed to their own cause. And now, with the release of their 29th (29th!) studio album, all anyone can really do is stand back and congratulate them. Cool, the Quo are not, and arguably never have been. But Quid Pro Quo nails precisely what fans of the band have been conditioned to expect, not putting a foot wrong across its 14 new tracks.
The 2010 version of In the Army Now is a pale shadow of the band’s 1986 number two hit – but it’s tacked onto the end here as a bonus, wisely, so as not to interrupt the flow of the record proper. Which is, largely, driving rock for driving to, the sort of fare that sounds great blasted from car speakers on an open highway, the horizon there for the chasing. And those songs that aren’t so comfortable on the move, they’re well suited to after-hours enjoyment down the local – Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ You, Any Way You Like It, The Winner and Let’s Rock are all cuts which would go down a storm on the jukebox at any lock-in. They are perfectly crafted group sing-alongs, each satisfyingly substantial of rousing chorus. Maybe don’t let ‘em loose when the young ‘uns are in, but once they’ve sauntered off to their town-centre discos, pop your pennies in and get selecting.
Bob Young’s consistently upbeat (co-)writing – he’s as important to Quo today as Rossi and Parfitt – ensures that this set never slips from third gear. True, it never really puts pedal to the metal either, but why risk the wheels falling off at this stage? Quo set out to make music their fans enjoy, experimentation a long-forgotten notion; brilliantly, though, they manage to sound like they’re having a blast throughout. This is not the time for seeking new audiences: Quid Pro Quo continues their amazing career in style, never running any risk of alienating those who’ve been along for the ride since day one. Rocket science it’s not, but the alchemy is as reliable as it ever was.