Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Status Quo - Dog of Two Head

Status Quo is best known in America for their terrific 1967 psychedelic hit “Pictures of Matchstick Men”. In England they have an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most singles that have charted in the UK (over 60)! This 1971 record falls between their heavily psych period and their hard rock/boogie years and as such it incorporates a little of each genre. This is not a very cohesive record, with songs ranging from silly novelties to true hard rock greatness.

I actually do not know too much about the band, but I’m getting more and more interested in late 60’s/early 70’s guitar explorations and picked this up to see what the Quo had to offer.

This record opens with a fairly straight blues rocker titled “Umleitung”, which, according to Babelfish, means “bypass”. Not sure what that is about, but this is a 7 minute blues guitar jam. Not bad, but not the most dynamic opener.

Bizarrely, this is followed by an extremely short (51 seconds) bit of “Nanana (Extraction)”, a novelty folk ballad and something that is better off left at that length. On the other hand, “Something’s Going On In My Head” is a good riff-rocker and one of the better tunes on the record. Good melody, upbeat, catchy riff – all in all a fine rocker!

“Mean Girl” opens promisingly enough with heavy power chords and then moves into a jumpin’ pop-rocker. A little trivial overall, sounding like an attempt at the charts, but still entertaining. Apparently, there was some kind of in-joke with “Nanana (Extraction)” as is makes another appearance here and only becomes more annoying as you hear it again. I have the feeling that someone was stoned and laughing their ass off about this.

This is followed by “Gerdundula”, which begins with a nice “I Feel Fine” bit of guitar feedback and then turns into a bouncy piece of celtic-psych! I actually like this oddity quite a bit, though it is hard to describe. It reminds me of an Irish jig with some slight psychedelic production techniques. Really nice melody, too – all very clever and original sounding. I think this has turned out to be one of the highlights of the record.

They create a melodic boogie-blues riff-rocker in “Railroad”, with a churning beat, catchy licks and a poppy chorus. An acoustic guitar and harmonica bridge comes out of nowhere and then there is another sharp turn into a very heavy, pounding blues rocker. This almost seems like they had several segments of songs and just threw them all together. Not super coherent.

But, “Someone’s Learning” is the best of the bunch and a 7 minute journey through loud guitars riffs, merciless beats and still a damn cool melody. They do play with dynamics throughout to keep your attention and the solo section has several changes but rages on with real intensity and nice twin lead guitar work that damn near pierces your brain! It all abruptly comes to a halt with a return to the quiet intro and an then an even more intense powerhouse verse. Really strong from start to finish. Too bad more of the record isn’t like this.

Then, as if to really piss you off, they return yet again (!) to “Nanana”, this time in its entirety of 2-1/2 minutes. Someone must have thought that this was hilarious, but I don’t get the joke.

I want to hear more of this long-lived band, but this release is definitely inconsistent despite its high points.