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That was the Quo month that was ... February 2000



undated - Quo feature in Record Collector magazine

The following comes from the February edition of Record Collector magazine, as part of an ongoing series of articles about British psychadelic pop. The article was written by Nigel Lees with additional information by David Wells.

Though it may well be a source of embarrassment to the group themselves, the Status Quo were initially one of the finest exponents of British psychadelic pop, and fans of the genre will find the bulk of their 60s back catalogue essential listening.

The band's Piccadilly label offerings as the Spectres and the Traffic Jam have a fairly broad appeal, mixing R&B, gutsy beat and quality pop in almost equal measures. However, their first 45 under the new name of the Status Quo saw them admirably embrace psychadelia, and "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" gave them their first hit in early 1968. With its wash of trebly guitar and phasing-soaked production, "Pictures . . . " is an almost bubblegum approximation of the psychadelic sound, a British equivalent to the Lemon Pipers hit "Green Tambourine" (a song also covered by the early Quo) rather than a Floyd-style freakout. Nevertheless, it went down so well that the public saw little reason to buy the soundalike follow-up, "Black Veils Of Melancholy".

The invigorating "Ice In The Sun" saw the Quo back in the Top 10, though two major hits in the space of a few months failed to provide sufficient impetus for the unwieldily-titled debut LP "Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo" to reach the album charts. Despite poor sales, the set remains one of the essential British psych pop collections, and is a scarce commodity today.

"Technicolour Dreams", another track from the groups's debut LP, was issued as a single in November 1968, but was almost immediately withdrawn in the UK making the handful of finished pressings probably the rarest and most sought-after Quo artefact. With demo copies almost as elusive, it would seem that many of these were also either recalled or received limited distribution. For me it's their best single, similar in execution to "Pictures of Matchstick Men" but heavier and more assertive while still retaining a strong commercial edge. Rick Parfitt handled the vocal on the melodramatic flip, "Paradise Flats", which like "Ice In The Sun", had been written by 50s rocker Marty Wilde.

Though an established household name by this time (apart from their singles hits, they recorded innumerable sessions for Radio 1), the Quo's chart appearances began to falter, and their second album, "Spare Parts", also sold poorly. Despite being less consistently psychadelic than its predecessor, "Spare Parts" certainly had its moments, with the magnificently trippy "Mr Mind Detector" in particular harking back to the lysergic glories of the previous year. By 1970, the group's psychadelic adventures were well and truly over (as indeed was the career of organist Roy Lynes, who was evidently surplus to requirements in a twelve bar heavy rock outfit), and the Quo slowly embarked on the road to superstardom courtesy of their increasingly formulaic boogie sound.

Status Quo are still a major live attraction (assisted by ex-Herd organist Andy Bown, but with only two original members - Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt), but recent dismal tracks like "Marguerita Time" demand better quality control in future.

Collectable recordings from the era are listed as:

Revisit the February 2000 event list