Status Quo – Backbone
(Edel/ear music - 2019)
Well this is an album that I really wanted to give a bit of time before I talked about it. One to marinate in my mind, get my teeth into and really have sink in and digest for a variety of reasons.
An album that Francis wasn't sure he even wanted to originally make, let alone release onto the public after he had lost his cohort, Rick Parfitt over the last few years and wasn't sure if he had it in him to do one with the band without him there – totally understandable. The record company either talked him round or he talked himself round and this is the result of all the work from the dare I say Post-Parfitt line of Status Quo with new boy, Richie Malone on Rhythm Guitar as well as the first to feature Leon Cave on Drums playing brand new songs too.
It starts up with the ploddy but humourous 'Waiting For A Woman' with it's laid back, bluesy softly sounding played licks from Francis which may seem an odd opener for the 1st album in yonks as you'd expect it to go off with a bang immediately. Fear not because the next two tracks really set the gas alight with the Quo sound that we are more used to with the powerful 'Cut Me Some Slack' and 'Liberty Lane'. In my view, they are two of the main highlights of the album with harder-edged riffs and pounding 'n' building rhythms that you can really get your rocks off to! Rock 'N' Roll! Massive credit to Francis Rossi and John 'Rhino Edwards for those.
Other tracks are a bit light-weight or whimsical in comparison which may sound bad but kinda true but it doesn't mean they are bad songs but not exactly top-dollar high-ranking Quo standard if that makes any sense like 'I Wanna Run Away With You' which is very much album filler or 'I See You're In Some Trouble' with it's spin around of a famous Clash song title in the songs lyrics. 'Backbone' is nice single-along but not sure about those woo-woos in their as I do find it a bit too cringe-worthy – I do like the 'different strokes for different folks' line a lot though.
There's a cool quirk to be found like the click noise in 'Backing Off' that was maybe a mistake but left in as it's one of those things sounds like it was meant to be and works when it shouldn't. Dare I say 'Better Take Care' comes across as a complete rip-off of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama' in the chorus of that makes me think 'Why?'. It's would be a better song had John David (the writer) not blatantly stole that famous 'Southern Rock' melody.
Another major standout of the album is Richie's 'Get Out Of My Head' that has that strong Parfitt/Lancaster in-your-face hard-hitting like ballsiness to it that I associate with earlier 80's Quo like 'Over The Edge' or 'No Contact' was – a real kick it up a notch and prove that the new blood in the band is definitely a positive thing from a writing and vocal perspective. He's got a brilliant voice and well and truly a vital asset to the outfit and a real saving grace for the band.
'Falling Of The World' is a piece of class and ticks boxes of clever lyrics and outstanding counter-melodies that really make the song work really well – big kudos to Mr. Cave for this gem! 'Running Out Of Time' has that light-hearted Quo-goes slightly countriness to it and a decent enough song. We get what could be the cousin of 'Burning Bridges' in 'Crazy Crazy' (the first bonus track) that is pure Irish Jig and I think could work played back to back live in concert with 'Face The Music' (second bonus track) being a decent unofficial closer on the album with that 'Baba O' Riley' like organ riff from Andy Bown finishing off the proceedings.
It was a decent enough effort as a new studio/comeback album and I am hoping the next one will be even better with more songs on the level of 'Cut Me Some Slack'; 'Liberty Lane' and Get Out Of My Head' but that's just my own personal opinion. Those Telecasters could do with being higher up in the mix at times so those guitar dynamics are way more at the forefront.
Looking forward to seeing what songs will appear in the live set on the forthcoming Backbone tour as an addition to what was performed live last year in 2019 from it.
By Glenn Milligan