My Top Three Albums – #3 “Organic Energy Music”

#3 – Organic Energy Music

                                                        STATUS QUO – LIVE!

(Live! is the first live album by English Rock band Status Quo. It contains 2 discs. It is an amalgam of performances at Glasgow‘s Apollo Theatre between 27 and 29 October 1976, recorded using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.)

1977 was a great year for music, as I’ve alluded to in my first choice of album. (Find that here.) But I have to confess in posting Status Quo’s first live album as my last and final choice for a top three place, at having to overcome a slight reluctance to admit to what this album means to me.

Status Quo, despite having well over 40 top twenty hits and countless studio albums could be considered by some to be…un-cool. Leaving aside the ‘3 chord wonder’ slur, they seem to have suffered, in a unique way, from their own success.


There isn’t really room here to go into all the possible reasons why this might be, but as I grew out of my teenage years it became clear that for many, Satus Quo were the ’embarrasing uncles’ of pop and rock. Although respected for their hard work and success they also became a band that wouldn’t be welcome at most rock family gatherings.

(Perhaps it was symbolic, with hindsight, that this album came to me as a hand-me-down. One of my brother’s mates passed it on to me when they found out that I was acquiring a taste for rock music. Perhaps he thought he had outgrown the band?)

But as I consider the three albums that have meant the most to me, and influenced my approach to music, this 1977 release needs little prompting for its place.

At the time I had no other ‘live’ albums to compare it to and Quo’s live reputation was yet to make it’s own mark on my psyche. So perhaps it’s not too surprising that in many ways this album has continued to be a benchmark for how I expect, or would hope that a live performance would go.

And boy does it go! The energy levels on each performance are tangible still, across the years and through any drawbacks attached to what was originally an analogue recording.

I can only describe the music as ‘organic’ or ‘Gestalt in action’. There is something in the interplay of the four musicians here that reaches right past my analytical brain and straight to my guts. It’s far more than four individual performances, yet to take away any one of them would be to lose that all elusive ‘feel’ that is so prevalent on this work.

Each track has its own dynamics but it is definitely on the faster-paced ‘rock n’ roll’ numbers that the back of my neck starts a’ tingling. For the first time I could see why people made all that fuss about going to see a band. And why Chuck Berry was so famous!

(Found this clip – not 1977, probably a bootleg but gives you an idea!)

Running against popular opinion this album also sealed Quo as being essentially understated and ‘cool.’ Walking out onto stage following a tremendous build up  – “Will you welcome the number one rock n’roll band in the land…the magnificient STATUS QUO!” – Lead guitarist and singer Francis Rossi calmly asks in his London accent, “‘Ow are you then..alright?”

I wasn’t even old enough to attend a concert by myself yet, so this album remained on my turntable for many months as I strectched  my imagination to this soundtrack of an outstanding performance. I delighted in picking out the bands ‘whoops’ and yells of encouragement as the solo’s began; wondered at the extended version of ‘Forty Five Hundred Times’ (which I later came to recognise as a ‘jam.’) ; And tried to picture the scene as Rossi interacted with the crowd, extolling them to jump up in down in the balcony seats so that the sound men below would all “shit themselves.”

If you’ve been kind enough to read my other choices (Find those here – 1 and 2 ) this one may surprise you when you hear it. (And you must hear it to understand it!) In contrast to the other choices this band are not ‘clever’ they’re not ‘technically excellent’ in many places – they’re not really very ‘knowing’ about what they are doing. But…they move me. They simply reach down my throat and grab me by somewhere very primitive indeed and then shake it all about until I’m an excited, foot-tapping, sing-along, shout-it-out fan somewhere in the front row.

As a budding drummer, a few years on, naturally I started with some of John Coghlans chops. But they didn’t really work unless you were playing alongside Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and Andy Bown.

Yet although it’s not the style of music that I would prefer to play today, if I can play in a band that has only half of their eclectic, organic, enthusing energy and joy of playing on stage, I’ll consider myself well placed..


(p.s. Play it VERY LOUD.)