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Status Quo: Blue For You (Deluxe Edition)
In many ways Blue For You can be seen as the final album in the second stage of Status Quo. Having morphed from the 60s pop of their first two albums into a more rock-boogie setting with Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon and Dog Of Two Head, the Quo that would go on to dominate the UK (and beyond) singles and albums charts in a denim clad hard rock style, truly came to life on 1972's Piledriver. Over the next four years Quo would release a further four studio records, one which would climb to number two in the UK charts, the other three all going one better. The final album in that run was Blue For You in 1976, the last for four years that the band would produce themselves, as they subsequently tried, quite successfully, to expand their trademark sound into a slightly more commercial setting.
Blue For You, with its famous Levi sponsored double, or triple denim clad cover, however, was still an out and out heavy rock release
or was it? Often derided for their formulaic twelve bar boogie (not that their fans complained), the band's ninth studio album once again disproved that theory for those that chose to actually listen to it. Kicking off with the smash and grab of "Is There A Better Way?", before sitting neatly in the groove for "Mad About The Boy", where guest keyboard player Andy Bown would add a few clinks of piano (before (un)officially joining the band after the album was released and forever altering their sound in the process), things get off to a superb start. "Ring Of Change" adds some clever guitar interplay in its extended intro, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi stretching out, as drummer John Coghlan and bassist Alan Lancaster lay it down thick and hard, their contribution to the classic, signature Quo sound often overlooked.
It's the Lancaster written and sung title track that offers the first real change of tack, a slow ride cymbal shuffle laying a languid base for a gentle piece of swinging rock n' roll, before the Parfitt written, fronted and heaviest offering on show, "Rain" probably this album's best known moment kicks things right back into top gear through a catchy chorus and even catchier riff. Road manager, song writer and harmonica man Bob Young makes his wailing, howling presence felt on the darting "Rolling Home", just as the pounding snare and bass hammers "That's A Fact" into place with a surprisingly light touch. The first of the closing pair of "Ease Your Mind" again takes the foot off the gas as a beautiful, building intro breathes "Mystery Song" and its churning guitars into life; bringing an extremely fine ride of boogie, blues rock and roll to an end.
Not satisfied with delivering an excellently remastered version of a classic album, this deluxe package also contains a second disc with 13 bonus cuts. The two b'sides from around the time are gathered together, "You Lost The Love" and "All Through The Night" confirming the top form the band were in at the time, as does the excellent 'stand alone' single "Wild Side Of Life". While the single-edit version (with the intro and outro clipped) of "Mystery Song" is also included for completists. Two demos appear, "Honky Tonk Angel" being an early version of "Wild Side Of Life", as the second demo of the same song confirms. Interestingly both versions reveal the country influence that hid beneath Quo's more masculine exterior (for further proof seek out the excellent Back In Quo Country album by the aforementioned Bob Young). However, even after numerous listens, I can't quite work out the difference between the two???
Rounding out the bonus disc are eight never officially released before live cuts two from Trentham Gardens in 1975 and six from Osaka a year later, although, in truth, all are only of OK bootleg quality. However, the energy that comes from the performances as the band hammer their way through the likes of "Roadhouse Blues", "In My Chair", "Rain", "Is There A Better Way" and, of course, "Caroline", when married to Francis Rossi's masterful stage raps, make the sound issues just about possible to overlook. Although the Osaka set really can be quite hard work, aurally.
For some, Quo were never better than they were on Blue For You, but whether you agree or not, one thing's for sure, as their sound became slicker, smoother and more keyboard oriented through the more obvious introduction of Bown, and producer Pip Williams, they'd never be the same again. For that reason and many others, this album remains one of their best.
1. Is There a Better Way?
2. Mad About the Boy
3. Ring of A Change
4. Blue for You
6. Rolling Home
7. That's A Fact
8. Ease Your Mind
9. Mystery Song
1. You Lost the Love B-Side
2. Mystery Song - Single Version
3. Wild Side of Life B-Side
4. All Through the Night B-Side
5. Wild Side of Life Demo
6. Most Of The Time Trentham Gardens
7. Roadhouse Blues Trentham Gardens
8. Bye Bye Johnny Osaka
9. Caroline Osaka
10. In My Chair Osaka
11. Roll Over Lay Down Osaka
12. Is There a Better Way Osaka
13. Rain Osaka
14. Honky Tonk Angel - Demo
Added: June 10th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Blue For You @ Status Quo online
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