Saturday, July 9, 2011

Messages From The Status Quo - Status Quo

Messages From the Status Quo
Status Quo
Cadet Concept LPS 315

Someone in the Target marketing department has pretty good taste in 1960s rock.  A few years back they used Max Frost and The Troopers' "Shape of Things to Come" in a commercial and then just the other day I heard "Pictures of Matchstick Men" in one of their ads.  That got me to pull this record out.  I first heard that song in a commercial for one of those compilation albums that they used to sell on television back in the old days.  I only heard a little bit of it and knew I had to have it.  I eventually bought it on a British Rock comp and thought it was great.  That was all the Status Quo I thought I needed.  Years later I was in a record store in Los Angeles, unquestionably the dirtiest and messiest record store I've ever seen.  It was truly vile, I half expected a rat to scrurry past the disintegrating record bins.  There were lots of good records but most were scratched or damaged in some way which was very frustrating.  I was about to give up when I came across this.  I pulled out the vinyl expecting the worst, but instead it was nearly pristine.  So I happily rescued it from that dross pit and gave it a spin.  What a pleasant surprise.  This is typical of the English school of psychedelia - high pitched, almost whiny vocals, phasing, swirling organ lines and colorful nonsensical lyrics.  Most of the songs are similar in style to "Pictures of Matchstick Men" although none are as good.  "Black Veils Of Melancholy" is a shameless attempt to replicate it right down to the stinging guitar riff.  Like "Pictures of Matchstick Men" it was written by the band's guitarist/vocalist, Francis Rossi, but actually the best follow up to "Pictures of Matchstick Men" came from the British songwriting team of Marty Wilde and Ronnie Scott.  Their "Ice In the Sun" was a hit in England and should have been here as well.  It is not a psychedelic song lyrically and could be considered bubblegum, but the Quo give it the full "Matchstick" treatment imparting a psychedelic style to it.  The most overtly psychedelic song on the album comes from bassist Alan Lancaster, "Sunny Cellophane Sky" which I think is a minor classic, at least as good as most of the songs you will hear on a typical English psych comp.  I also really like the Wilde/Scott song "Elizabeth Dreams," Rossi and Rick Parfitt's "When My Mind Is Not Live" and "Technicolor Dreams" which are full of psychedelic charms.  Ultimately this record is too formulaic to be ranked in the top tier of English psychedelia with the likes of Tomorrow, Tintern Abbey, early Pink Floyd or the Factory, but it is certainly more than respectable and sure beats the boogie stuff Status Quo churned out in 1970s.  I'm really fond of this album and if you like English psych half as much as I do, I think you will dig this record too.  Recommended for people who think "Rain" is a better song than "Eleanor Rigby."

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