STATUS QUO: Hello! /Quo / On The Level / Blue For You

 

 

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Status Quo are an English rock band whose music is characterized by their distinctive brand of boogie rock. The group originated in The Spectres, founded by schoolboys Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster in 1962. After a number of lineup changes, the band became The Status Quo in 1967 and Status Quo in 1969.They have had over 60 chart hits in the UK, starting with 1967’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, and the most recent being in 2010, which is more than any other rock group. Twenty-two of these reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.

Culture Factory has remastered four of their albums to make them look like albums. with slipcases and even bonus tracks on all of them. Giving listeners the chance to hear these albums in clear, crisp versions is a real treat and makes the albums sound spectacular.

Hello! is the sixth studio album and was released in September 1973, it was the first of four Quo albums to top the UK Albums Chart. In August 1973 the only single from the album, “Caroline” was released, reaching #5. This was the group’s first single to reach the UK top five. Its B-side was a non-album track called “Joanne” and is included on this release. “Roll Over Lay Down” is a tongue-in-cheek lyrical paean to bed space. “Claudie” and “Reason for Living” have a country underbelly that was nevertheless part of Quo’s musical recipe. “Caroline” is perhaps the ultimate Status Quo song, a seemingly simple, catchy rock’n’roll song. Lastly, “Forty-Five Hundred Times” is the quintessential Quo tour-de-force, starting a bit jangly before proceeding into a propulsive, stomping song.

Quo is the seventh studio album by Status Quo from 1974, with the only track to be released as a single was “Break the Rules,” in April 1974, and it peaked in the UK at #8. On this album there is generally a harder edge to the songs and performances, with less emphasis on the more pop side of the band. “Break The Rules” is a chugging, bluesy, driving song with the instrumental section adding a honky-tonk piano solo, and a wailing harmonica. This is an album to please the rock fan, it’s an album that contains enough variation for a listener not to get bored, and instant gratification when you first pick up the disc. The CD also contains the bonus track “Lonely Night.”

On the Level is the eighth studio album and in November 1974 the band released the only single from the album, an edited version of “Down Down.” The single gave the band their only #1 hit to date. Its b-side was the Parfitt/Young album track “Nightride.” This album is one of the definitive Quo long players with every sound, from the opening bars of “Little Lady” to the closing Chuck Berry cover, “Bye Bye Johnny.” The album starts with “Little Lady” and “Most Of The Time,” the first one being a great heavy rocker, and the other one slower with more of a bluesy feel to it. “I Saw The Light” and “Over And Done” are catchy songs that stick in your ears. “Nightride” is slower in tempo,and it’s got a good solid groove to it. Then there’s probably the best-known track from the album, “Down Down.” The opening of the song is so recognisable and it’s one of those tracks that you can’t help foot-tapping along to. This is the album version which is longer and not as concise as the single version that most are familiar with. “Where I Am” is a lovely ballad which is much lighter in tone than the other more rocking tracks on the album. The album closes with the rocking cover of Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny,” a key part of their live shows still. This release also includes the bonus tracks “Down Down (Single Version),” “Roll Over Lay Down (Live Version),” “Gerdundula (Live Version),” “Junior’s Wailing (Live Version),” and “Roadhouse Blues (Live Version).”

Blue for You is the ninth studio album by English rock band Status Quo, released in March 1976 and is both the last album to feature the “Frantic Four” lineup. “Rain”, the first single from the album, reached #7 in the UK charts after its release in February 1976. Its b-side was the non-album track “You Lost the Love.” The album was released the following month. It entered the British album chart at #1 and stayed there for three weeks, making it one of their most successful long players. An edited version of “Mystery Song” was the second single from the album and, released in July that year, peaked at #11 a few months later. “Drifting Away,” from their 1974 album Quo, served as the single’s b-side. In December that year the band decided to release a cover of “Wild Side of Life,” a song made famous by Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys. Its b-side was “All Through the Night,” which reached #9. “Is There A Better Way” has rolling bass, thrashing guitars and a very speedy little guitar solo which almost has the energy of punk rock.”Rolling Home” is another classic with dueling guitars, and wailing harmonica. Blue For You” is a restrained slice of blues/soul. “Rain” rocks really hard, almost borders on heavy metal in places. “Blue For You” retains all the crunch and pleasingly booming bass of all the other songs that came before. “That’s A Fact” has a terrific groove,  “Ease Your Mind” is a great blues boogie song , and “Mystery Song” closes out the album with another great track. The bonus songs on this CD are “You Lost The Love,” “Mystery Song (Single Version),” “Wild Side Of Life,” “All Through The Night,” and “Wild Side of Life (Demo Version).”

If you are a fan, you need to get these great looking and sounding remasters, and if you want to hear a band on top of their game, you definitely have to get these CDs. The sound of a band being everything that they could be and more, now with awesome sound and very collectible.

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VINNIE MOORE: Aerial Visions

Vinnie Moore was born in New Castle, Delaware, and he began his professional career at age 12 playing in clubs and bars until Shrapnel executive Mike Varney discovered him via a demo and bio that Vinnie submitted to the Spotlight column, which Varney headed for Guitar Player Magazine. Through Varney, it led to an opportunity to appear in a Pepsi commercial in 1985, (only Vinnie’s hands appeared in the commercial as his guitar playing is heard. Following this, Moore recorded his first solo album, Mind’s Eye (1986), released on Shrapnel Records. Vinnie Moore played lead guitar with Vicious Rumors on their debut album, Soldiers of the Night (1985). Moore joined Alice Cooper’s band for a tour and then appeared on the Hey Stoopid (1991) album. Moore has been the lead guitarist for UFO since June 2003, and this is his eighth solo album.

This album strikes right to the core of what Moore’s fans have always loved about his playing, guitar-centric music with plenty of melody. Each song is beautifully crafted and his technique is never at the expense of taste, and this album has a delicious flavor. The playing is tight, but not so flashy that the casual listener gets bogged down in flair and flash, instead you get an album full of songs with terrific guitar playing that draws you in and won’t let go. If you’re going to release a guitar based instrumental album these days, since it’s not really in style anymore, it’s imperative that you mix up the styles on it, and Moore has indeed done just that here. “Mustang Shuffle” is blistering blues rock, and his version of ZZ Top’s “La Grange”, which would make them proud. “Now’s the Time” and “Faith” are two songs that originally were intended as instrumentals, but some of the arrangements were later used as UFO tunes. “Looking Back” is a tender ballad, while the title track has a rootsy blues/jazz/funk sound. “A Million Miles Gone” has a moody atmosphere, with Moore playing a jaw dropping solo that is dripping with emotion.

If you want an album of guitar wankery, this is not it, there were plenty released in the 80s (Yngwie Malmsteen anyone?), this one has the ability to go beyond that into an album that is a classic. The playing is on point, the song selection is terrific and everything just clicks.

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BETTY BOO: Grrr!

This is the long-awaited reissue of Betty Boo’s second album Grrr!, a whole twenty-four years after its original release. This Deluxe Edition includes the ten original songs, plus twenty bonus tracks all sourced from the original master tapes. The CD booklet features the original album front cover plus extensive sleeve notes and a UK discography. Betty Boo’s original breakthrough came with the release of “Hey DJ/I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” as The Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo (real name Alison Clarkson) on Rhythm King in 1989. Her debut album Boomania followed in 1990 peaking at #4 in the UK album charts and achieved platinum status of 300,000 sales.

This second album had a more mixed bag of sounds than her first album, more jazzy and of course the rap and house music that she’s known for. “I’m On My Way” is a peppy little dance song that includes a jazz horn section that turns into The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna.” The actual horn section on the original version, led by Ronnie Scott is playing on this track. The next song “Thing Goin’ On,’ has a jazzy backing, and her rap flowing effortlessly. “Hangover” which was another single, is a mid-tempo, hip-hop shuffler that is built around an orchestral sound that sounds like it could have come right out of a spaghetti western. The album also has the catchy “Wish You Were Here,” and “Gave You The Boo,” to keep the dancing and party going. The remixes are a real treat on here with “Hangover” including the album and 12″versions plus the Streets Ahead remixes – Saturday Night & Sunday Morning. The Sunday Morning remix was previously unavailable in the UK. “Thing Goin’ On” includes the album version, the radio remix, club mix and the Underground mix by US DJ/Producer MK (Marc Kinchen). Three of these mixes were previously unavailable in the UK. “Catch Me” includes the album and David Morales’ 12″ version, also the original version and the London Underground mix feature. Three of these mixes were previously unavailable in the UK. The remastering of this album makes it sound fuller, more clear and crisp than before.

An underrated and lost album that although isn’t as immediate as her first album, is still worth looking for and exploring. The songs are fun and make for a great listen, grab this one and re-live the early 90s.

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THE MUFFS:Blonder And Blonder

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This is the Muffs second, and best-selling album, now remastered and with seven bonus songs included, five previously unreleased as well as notes from the band. The sound is crisper and the added tracks add to the album and give some insight to what they were up to at that time.

The album is a 90s punk staple in my house and should be one in yours too, with its tight playing and sharp lyrics. The songs are fast, catchy and full of energy, so much more fulfilling than the pop punk that is out there today. What the hell happened to that style of music? Anyways, this has hit written all over it and they deservedly had the biggest selling album with this amazing album. The crunchy guitars, the assured, yet manic vocals, and clean sounding drums still hold up after all these years. I remember getting this album when it first came out and playing it a lot, but this really takes it up a notch with the improved sound. This hook laden album has been mostly left behind by kids nowadays, but really needs to be heard and loved all over again. The album has intricate playing mixed with the quick and furious songs, and also the clear production helps add to the mix.

If you haven’t heard them before, grab this album and turn it up loud, be proud of your new-found favorite album, and if you are a fan from the old days, play the hell out of the album too. The album is a definite must have in your collection, so stop wasting time and get a copy today.

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