Status Quo, ‘The Frantic Four’s Final Fling: Live at the Dublin 02 Arena’ – Album Review
Even though Status Quo are thought of as a one-hit-wonder in the U.S. for their 1968 single 'Pictures of Matchstick Men,' they're a rock-solid institution in their native England.
For the better part of 50 years, Status Quo have been delivering no-frills, straight-ahead rock 'n' roll. Blissfully unaware of, or wisely avoiding, any current trends, the group has maintained its own distinct route, and as the new live album 'The Frantic Four's Final Fling: Live at the Dublin 02 Arena' proves, the Quo can still deliver the goods.
Following its humble beginnings as the Spectres in the early '60s, the band changed its name to Status Quo. Initially walking down a psychedelic path, they soon ditched that trail and developed their own style. In the early '70s, the group recorded a series of classic albums like 'Piledriver,' Quo' and ' Hello!' The lineup that made those albums split in 1981, but in 2013, the "frantic four" reunited for a sell-out U.K. tour. It proved so successful that they did it again earlier this year, which yields this new double CD and captures them in full flight in Dublin in April.
From the rock pose on the cover to the song selection, there's no doubt what fans are in store for here. Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan kick into gear with 'Junior's Waiting' and 'Backwater,' still sounding great after all these years. 'Is There a Better Way' surges almost as fiercely as it did on the 1976 album 'Blue for You.' And through it all, while the vocals may be a bit rougher, the energy and attack are dead on.
There are plenty of highlights -- from the slow bluesy groove of 'In My Chair' to the head-bobbing rock action of 'Down Down,' Status Quo flip the bird to retirement years. And fans will get a kick out of the blistering takes on the classics 'Oh Baby' and 'Caroline.' Even after being away from each other for years, the quartet picks up like they never stopped playing together. The sound of their guitars remains a thing of beauty, laid on top of the locomotive-style rhythm section.
Quo were either too smart, or too dumb, to avoid wandering into "'eavy me'al" territory over the years, choosing to remain a full-throttle, hard rock 'n' roll band. Let's put it this way: Without them, there may never have been AC/DC. They play in a similar straightforward, stripped-down style but with flash all their own, including simple, timless and catchy melodies.
'The Frantic Four's Final Fling''s closes with a cover of Chuck Berry's 'Bye Bye Johnny,' which they originally recorded on their 1975 album 'On the Level.' On this new live version, they manage to pump this oldie with new life. It's like the years of acrimony, not to mention court battles, that kept the members apart for so many years were erased once the amps were fired up.
The Back 2 SQ. 1 tour was a huge success -- financially as well as creatively -- but the band says that, without question, it's the last time the four members will play together. So this CD (and DVD and Blu-ray sets) is one last chance to enjoy them in all their glory.