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That was the Quo month that was ... January 1999

23rd - '4 Bills And A Ben' at Woldgate School, Pocklington, nr York

The following review comes from Donna Norman.

Rick (hubby) and I + 4 friends made the trip across to the lovely town of Pocklington, it only took us an hour from home which makes a change from driving down to London. We got to Woldgate school around 6:00pm and managed to catch the Bills doing a soundcheck. They were doing a song called "Somebody Help Me Now" (I think that's what it's called, but don't ask me who sang it originally), one I have never heard them do before, and it's what they started their set off with.

They rolled right on into "Keep on Running" and as I never grabbed a set list I'll just have to rely on memory for the rest. Just some of the remainder of their two hour set were:

The above are not in order, but I do remember they finished with "We Got To Get Out Of This Place." It was the familiar line up of Johnny Warman (lead vocals), Rhino (bass / vocals), Jeff (drums), Spike Edney (guitar / keyboards), Andy Hamilton (sax) and Steve Bird (lead guitar) and they went down an absolute storm!!!

Despite playing a brilliant set, there was still some crazeee woman complaining to Toot at the end that she thought they ought to play on till 12:30am as that's what it said on her ticket !!! Some folks are never satisfied and I don't think she quite realises how much effort it takes to be up there for 2 hours, never mind 3 and a half !!!!!

The Bills gave it their all, Johnny Warman put in 110 % as usual (even if I did think he was going to fall off the table in front of the stage at one point) - the crowd went wild and all of our mates that went who had never been before were asking when the next gig is!!

It was great to see so many "usuals" there and although I don't know their names, we had a good chat. Tony Priestley and Tony & Hilary Lingard were the only folks I knew from the mailing list, but there may have been more.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you weren't there, you missed the time of your life (sorry anyone who lives abroad) and if you get the chance to go ...JUST DO IT!!!

Revisit the January 1999 event list  

undated - Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt interview in "Classic Rock" magazine

Francis and Rick were interviewed by Valerie Potter for the January/February issue of "Classic Rock" magazine. The interview was given the following introduction - "On The Level - Stop us if you've heard this one before, but STATUS QUO promise VALERIE POTTER that the album they're finishing is "full-tilt" Quo. Besides this, FRANCIS ROSSI and RICK PARFITT have some interesting opinions on the glory days of 'Piledriver' and 'Blue For You'. Would you believe "a few moments of brilliance and 60-70 per cent shit"?!"

The remainder of the interview is transcribed below.

They've had 52 British hit singles, sold more than 110 million albums worldwide and spent an unbelievable 20 years away from home on tour - yet it's hard to think of another British rock band that has had so much media scorn and ridicule poured on their heads. For they are Status Quo - the terminally unhip, denim-clad, headbanging, three-chord wonders. Or so their critics would have you believe.

Nevertheless, taking a break from recording in a Surrey studio, founding vocalist/ guitarists Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt are hopeful that their next album may lead their detractors to change sides. Their first album of original material in seven years, more recent releases have been covers, collaborations and compilations, Parfitt believes it harks back to the '70s heyday of 'Piledriver', before bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan left Quo's original line-up to be replaced by John Edwards and Jeff Rich respectively.

"Musically, we've been through a few changes of late," Rick says. "We've leaned a little bit towards country rock and the fans didn't take too kindly to that. But this album has gone back to really full-tilt Quo. It's quite hard-rocking and I must say, it feels excellent. It's probably the best album we've ever done, without a word of a lie."

Francis isn't quite so sure about the 'Piledriver' comparison, though he believes the new album will provide a good meeting place for fans of the band's older material and those who prefer the new songs.

"People always say, 'Why can't you make albums like 'Hello!' and 'Piledriver'?' But to me, we're not that band, so you're never going to make that again," he comments. "I suppose in terms of the bluesiness of it and it's a kind of synth-free zone... but it's difficult [to talk about], because I don't think anyone would say, 'You should hear my new album - it's shit!' But we're more excited than we've been for some time and it's been more of a concerted band effort so we're very happy with it so far."

The discrepancy in the pair's response is more evident when asked how they feel about Quo's early albums when they listen to them nowadays.

"I love them," says Rick. "When the first band was good, it was really good. I'm pleased that's how I feel about it, rather than listening to some of the really quite early stuff and thinking, "Christ, that was crap wasn't it?"!"

Francis is less enthusiastic. "To me, there were a few moments of brilliance and 60-70 per cent shit, but I think that's the same for everybody. There have been a handful of albums over the last 30 years that you buy and every single track you end up liking. For me, 'Hotel California' was one, so was 'Rumours' and a few Beatles albums. Generally, you buy an album and if there are two tracks on there you like, you consider yourself lucky."

One thing the pair do agree on is that 1998 has been one of their busiest years to date. The recording of the new LP was slotted in between tours of Europe and Australia, plus summer festival dates. Five days after this interview, the band were scheduled to fly to Russia for shows before touring Germany again, then, of course, concluding the year with British Xmas gigs, which have become as traditional as pantomimes and the Queen's Speech.

"Sadly they are," Rick agrees. "It's a thing we've done for 20 years. If we had our way, maybe we'd do it every other year, but there's such demand to see us at Christmas that you can't let the fans down."

As in previous years, these shows will be packed with punters whose ages range from eight to 80, which is something of a British phenomenon, as in Europe, Status Quo play to a much younger, rockier audience.

"But I've always said, what does it matter how old or young people are, as long as they enjoy it?" Rick argues. "The critics have said, 'Oh blimey, Status Quo have got pensioners in their audience...' So what? If you see an old boy and his wife enjoying themselves, we really get a kick out of that."

Francis agrees. "When you were young, if there was a granny in the audience, it was like, 'Get her out - if someone sees her, we're dead!' and you go, 'What are you talking about? It's a person. And that person was dead hip a few years ago, and now she's not, because what? Because she's old and has glasses and is grey? What's the problem? She's not hip because of somebody I think I am?'

"We did some European festivals with Reggie - sorry, Elton John - Rod (Stewart) and Page & Plant. As Reggie walked into the site, he and all his camp were saying 'This is not my audience!' So the promoter looked at him and said, 'What do you mean? I only booked the band, I didn't book the audience! They've turned up to see you, how can you say they're not your audience?!' Reggie was effing and blinding: 'I'm never playing a fucking festival again!' And we were going, 'But this is the audience you want, isn't it, to broaden it?'

"Which is why I'd love to play Glastonbury, even free of charge actually - I don't think they'd want to pay us! That used to be the most fringe hippy festival of all time, now it's mainstream with people like Robbie Williams, which is interesting. I'd like to go in there as the underdog where they think, 'This is going to be funny - watch this lot!' and then they're like, 'Sorry, I didn't realise you were quite that good.' It doesn't mean we're fantastic or we're gonna change the world, but we're a darned sight better than people think we are."

The passion with which Rossi continues his defence of the Quo and their Army is some indication of how, cheap though many of them may have been, those press potshots at the band have really hurt.

"It's difficult to take in all the press things about Status Quo - it's the standard joke - with the reaction that we get onstage," he says. "I get out there and I watch these people going fucking apeshit and I think, 'Well, they're not coming out just to say, 'Poor old sods, we better go and see them, they'll feel lonely...' They come out because they think we do something that they enjoy. I don't understand, but I'm grateful that they're there, because they make me feel so good. The age, the baldness, everything, goes straight out of the window, because you can see these people are so excited."

"I could take all the criticisms about it being limited, it's three-chordey, it's samey - but then I listen to other acts and go, 'Well, so's everybody else,' argues Rossi. "Once you've heard one Spice Girls record, one Radiohead record, one Oasis record, you know - because if they didn't, they wouldn't be successful. It adds to the success that it's recognisable and people can identify with it quickly."

Fair comment. But then there's always the hipness factor to take into account. Mere mention of the 'H' word has Francis up and running again.

"I find it very, very odd that 'Rockin' All Over The World' is an acceptable record and certain other records of ours weren't," he complains. "And yet that record had "I like it, I like it,..." and "Giddy up and giddy up..." in it - and that's cool? I find that really odd! But it must have been quite hip at the time [it was originally recorded by Creedence Cleawater Revival], because about six months afterwards, The Rolling Stones came out with "It's only rock and roll/But I like it, like it..." "

The Quo anthem, 'Rockin' All Over The World' is, of course, a dead cert for inclusion in December's shows. But with such a vast back catalogue to choose from, the pair admit that finding room to include new material is an ongoing problem.

"I always relate it to when I went to see The Eagles," Francis recalls. "They played 'Hotel California' and the best tracks from that album so well, but I hadn't quite orgasmed. I was still waiting for 'Already Gone' from 'On The Border' and when they did it, I nearly fell off my seat. It was like, 'Someone's played with my nuts! Ah, do that to me!' So I relate that to our people.

"I mean, I hate doing 'Caroline', I hate doing 'Down Down', but when you play them, people's faces...It's like, 'Yes, you did it to me, I've just come - thank you very much!' Whereas before that, they're kind of, 'Yeah, you're touching me in the right places, but you haven't quite got there yet' - like most women with men, I suppose! It would be great to say, 'We don't do that material any more', but that's muso rubbish, I'm afraid.

"We're in show business, although some musicians don't like to admit it. Otherwise, you'd just play for yourself in your front room. It's the reason you and I are talking. You're trying to get the best for your magazine, whether it's sensationalism or whatever it is, talking to some old bloke in some passe band: 'Let's get a dodgy picture of them two on the front, making fools of themselves, and there'll be X amount of people who buy this, just to say, "What a pair of twats they are!" The reason you have your job is not because they think, 'She's a nice bird - let's give her a job!' Bollocks! It's 'Does she sell magazines?' But that's show business."

We've talked earlier about the age of Quo's audiences - but both Rossi and Parfitt themselves are now the wrong side of 50. How do they feel about the views of one young shaver residing not a million miles from the Classic Rock office, who thinks all musos should do the decent thing and shoot themselves when they turn 30?

"When I was in my twenties, someone said to me, 'You know fuck all until you're 45.' I thought, 'You're talking out of your arse.' However, I now think he was right!" Francis grins. "You wouldn't buy the computer with the smallest memory, would you? Ask me about anything and I'll say, 'That happened to me in 19-dah-dah and I think this...' You ask a 20-year-old and he says, 'Dunno, never done it...Mmm, fancy a shag?'!"

No immediate plans for retirement then?

"I've been making plans since I was twenty-something!" chuckles Rossi. "In ten years' time, I'll be coming up to 60. I couldn't see me doing this at 40, but surely it'll all be over when I'm 60?!"

"Sometimes I look at the schedule and I go, 'Are you kidding?" adds Parfitt, "but I know after three weeks or a month off, I'm just bursting to get back on the road. When that urge and that urgency goes, that'll be time to hang up the old guitars. But it's still there, so whether people want to see the back of us or not, we ain't goin anywhere!"

When asked what ambitions they have left to achieve, both reply, with perfect synchronicity, "To do it all again."

"That's what keeps us going," opines Francis. "There's always this feeling that the next record's going to do - something, whatever it is, I don't know. I remember desparately wanting 'Marguerita Time' out as a single, it was going to prove such a point. It was a big hit and - I had to go and do another one! It's that carrot in front of your nose."

"We're happy to carry on in the groove that we do," concludes Rick. "I know Quo is never going to be the biggest band in the world, but the level of success we've had is enough to fulfil everything that I could have wanted. I don't think we're cut out to be a U2 or a Rolling Stones. We're Quo, we are what we are, we've had success everywhere in the world - what more can you want?

"We've been knocked so heavily over the years and we've come through it. I've always had this internal picture of Quo being like a powerful old steam train, steaming down this track, and all this criticism and other trends in music come along and hit it and just bounce off. Nothing will stop this band unless we take the coal off the fire of the engine. Otherwise it will just keep on rocking."

"Quo's Essential Quo Albums" are given listed as, by Francis:

and by Rick:

There is an nice picture from the Lincoln Festival of 1972 heading up the article.

Revisit the January 1999 event list