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Young, Bob: Back In Quo Country

Even with the current fad of bringing modern country vibes into a more rock setting, it isn't often that I sit down to write a review about an out and out country/maybe even country & western album. However that's what Bob Young's 1985 solo release In Quo Country was and with an additional eight tracks what the reissue, now titled Back In Quo Country, continues to be. As the title alludes, what we have here is a selection of Status Quo's catalogue reimagined in a country style, however, for those not in the know, the man countrifying them actually co-wrote each and every one. Bob Young (Quo's tour manager and harmonica man during the late 60s, 70s and early 80s) penning a huge amount of the band's best known work over the years with guitarists Francis Rossi and (the sadly no longer with us) Rick Parfitt, as well as bassist Alan Lancaster. According to Bob in the liner notes (of which there are two essays, one an overview of this album, the other of Bob's long and impressive career(s)), most of these songs, especially with Rossi, were originally written closer to the style presented here, before then being Quo'd up.

Unlike many albums in this vein, Quo Country sounds natural and uncontrived, the ten songs on the original '85 release instantly recognisable and yet pleasingly different. Bob himself handles vocals and while he may not have a soaring rock n' roll holler, he sure has a country drawl and ease of delivery that's perfect for more the laid back, but never polite, versions of "Caroline" or "Mean Girl". The latter features excellent violin from Graham Preskett, while the album also features brass courtesy of The Pete Thoms Horns. With guitarists Micky Moody (Young & Moody (with Bob) and Whitesnake), Albert Lee and Billy Bremner, bassist Mo Foster and backing vocals from, amongst others, Young, Moody, Rossi and Parfitt, the album is an all-star affair and one that certainly doesn't lack for talent.

As a lifelong Quo fan, I have to say that the piano led honky-tonk of "Shady Lady" is an absolute joy, while the easy sway of "Living On An Island" conveys the melancholy behind the lyrics as well, if not even better, than the original. With "Dirty Water" a gentle acoustic strum and "Down Down" (Quo's first post-pop-era hit) a quick fingered guitar shuffle, the surprises come thick, fast and full of fun.

From the eight bonus cuts, a second version of "Caroline" finds the Young & Moody band giving it a moodier (no pun intended) country bent, while "Down Down" is actually the previously unheard tape from the song's writing session in a Travelodge back in 1973! The other six being non-Quo songs 'recorded at different times and places while still on the road with Quo' and unlike many bonus cuts, sounding like they genuinely belong.

Fans of the more mainstream country side of life (think Knoplfer or Clapton in country mode) will love this album, as will Quo fans both passing and ardent. Ultimately, as is often said, the true test of a good song is if you can strip it back and present it in a different, but equally convincing manner. These are damn good songs and this is a damn good album.


Track Listing
ORIGINAL ALBUM
1. DOWN DOWN
2. CAN'T GIVE YOU MORE
3. CLAUDIE
4. CAROLINE
5. MEAN GIRL
6. SHADY LADY
7. I SAW THE LIGHT
8. NIGHTRIDE
9. LIVING ON AN ISLAND
10. DIRTY WATER
BONUS TRACKS (2017)
11. FINE FINE FINE
12. CHICAGO BLUE
13. JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES
14. THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA
15. ENGLISH ROSE AND YANKEE DAN
16. CAROLINE (Y&M)
17. I'LL BE BACK
18. DOWN DOWN (1973 WRITING SESSION)

Added: January 14th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Back In Quo Country at Cherry Red
Hits: 2089
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Young, Bob: Back In Quo Country
Posted by J on 2017-01-28 11:04:12
My Score:

Great review, but "Down Down" certainly wasn't Quo's first post-pop hit - that would've been "Down The Dustpipe". Cheers.




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