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  STATUS QUO SEND A DEAR JOHN ON EVE OF LAST NIGHT OF THE ELECTRICS
Status Quo: 'Aquostic II – That's A Fact!'
(Ear Music/Fourth Chord Records)
Release Date: Friday 21st October 2016


johnny main
Johnny Main


status quo

2016 has been a rough old year for Status Quo fans. First the band announced that this year they would undertake their last ever tour with their famous Telecaster guitars, dubbed the 'Last Night Of the Electrics', then in mid-June guitarist Rick Parfitt had a heart attack after a show in Turkey. So serious was Parfitt's condition that he was airlifted back to the UK and was warned to take complete rest. Instead of cancelling a batch of summer shows, the band soldiered on with replacement guitarists filling the void left by a convalescing Parfitt.

In September there was further bad news when it was announced that Parfitt wouldn't be fit enough to participate in any of the 'Last Night Of The Electrics' shows planned for the latter half of the year, thus side-lining him from the band for the rest of the year and the foreseeable future. In amongst all this drama, Quo stalwart Francis Rossi has managed to keep the good ship Status Quo sailing through these rough seas ensuring the fans still get a high quality performance from a band who are still capable of selling out arenas.

And this weekend Quo have released a new album, a second acoustic album which follows on from the hugely successful first 'Aquostic' which was released back in August 2014, which has sold nearly half a million copies (and counting!) and in turn given the band their highest chart placing for nearly twenty years.

Titled 'Aquostic II – That's A Fact!' the new album once again features the regular Quo line up (including Parfitt, in what could well be his last new recordings with the band), alongside a group of guest musicians armed with violins, cellos and accordion to fill out the sound. Y'see, this isn't a traditional acoustic album as such, but more of an augmented acoustic set up which is certainly a departure from the heavy rock sound that Quo have been renowned for over the years.

status quo

Some Quo fans, of course, have poured scorn over the mere mention of these acoustic albums and think that Quo should still be stuck in the Seventies, powering their way through classic tracks like 'Is There A Better Way, 'Just Take Me', 'Little Lady' or a half an hour version of the classic 'Forty Five Hundred Times' but you have to remember that Rossi and Parfitt are both in their late Sixties and after having "been there, done that and bought the t-shirt" several times over, they see the future of the band down an acoustic road as opposed to the hard hitting rock act of three decades ago, so if you're someone who thinks Quo were better in the Seventies, then this probably isn't the album for you.

'Aquostic II' follows closely in the footsteps of the original 'Aquostic' album – classic Quo tracks mixed with (to some) more obscure album tracks all given the make over treatment. A real bonus here is the addition of three brand new Quo compositions – two on the standard CD with the third one added to the Deluxe Edition.

At the time of the release of the original album, I did say in my review that "for all the great tracks (included), there are naturally a few disappointments" and this new effort is pretty much the same. Some of the tracks work really well with the new set up whilst others while simply miss the mark.

Classic hard rock tracks like 'Roll Over Lay Down' and 'Backwater' are included here having been overlooked from the previous album, and it's nice to see them acknowledged. 'Roll Over Lay Down' has a much slower tempo that it's electric counterpart with the quiet mid-section and subsequent build up glossed over by simply repeating the title while the guitars are strummed rather earnestly throughout.

status quo

'Backwater', on the other hand, which features Parfitt on vocals, has an almost Country Music feel to it - far removed from its heavy rock origins. They're both markedly different from their electric counterparts ("Sacrilege," I hear some Quo fans cry!) but then why replicate the song exactly as it was recorded originally? Simply put, these are interesting takes on a couple of well loved classic tracks.

'Dear John', an early Eighties top ten hit for the band, fares rather better and is one of the unexpected highlights here. Again the tempo is slowed down and there's an almost classical feel to it at times. Rossi's voice is intertwined with backing singers Amy Smith and Hannah Rickard over the sparse instrumentation making the voices the focal point whilst popular live number, 'Hold You Back' is a jaunty wee number that doesn't really lose anything in the transfer from electric to acoustic.

There are some late era Quo tracks given the acoustic treatment too, of course, including 'In The Army Now', alongside 2005 track 'Belavista Man' and 'Lover Of The Human Race' which was taken from 1994s 'Thirsty Work' album – the latter of which was certainly one of the band's more pop orientated efforts. All of these tracks fair okay here, with the latter surprisingly coming out best.

As far as the new tracks go, it's 'One For The Road' which was written by keyboard player Andrew Bown, that strikes a chord. It's another slow tempo number with a melancholic feel to it as though Bown knows what's coming next in his life and he's looking back on his work with Quo during their incredible history to date - who knows, maybe he knows exactly what Quo's future plans entail. Rossi's vocal performance suits the song perfectly and you have to wonder what was going through his mind as he sang some of the lyrics.

Overall the album is a bit of a mixed bag, but there's lots here to keep hardened Quo fans and more casual fans happy – especially the Deluxe Version which includes five exclusive studio tracks and a bonus disc of acoustic live material.

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You can see Status Quo live (and electric for the last time) here:
Friday 28th October – SSE Arena, Belfast
Saturday 29th October – 3 Arena, Dublin
Thursday 10th November – Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg
Friday 11th November – Arena, Leipzig
Saturday 12th November – Dreiländerhalle, Passau
Monday 14th November – Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin
Tuesday 15th November – Messehalle, Erfurt
Thursday 17th November – Stadthalle, Rostock
Friday 18th November – Nordseehalle, Emden
Saturday 19th November – Lanxess Arena, Köln
Monday 21st November – Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt
Tuesday 22nd November – Brosearena, Bamberg
Thursday 24th November – König-Pilsener-Arena, Oberhausen
Friday 25th November – Swiss Life Arena, Hannover
Saturday 26th November – Stadthalle, Magdeburg
Tuesday 29th November – Porsche Arena, Stuttgart
Wednesday 30th November – Olympiahalle, München
Friday 2nd December – Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam
Saturday 3rd December - Ancienne Belgique, Brussels
Sunday 4th December – Zenith, Paris
Thursday 8th December – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Friday 9th December – Bournemouth Bic, Bournemouth
Sunday 11th December –The 02 Arena, London
Tuesday 13th December – Brighton Centre, Brighton
Wednesday 14th December – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Friday 16th December – Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Saturday 17th December – First Direct Arena, Leeds
Monday 19th December – Manchester Arena, Manchester
Tuesday 20th December – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Thursday 22nd December – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Friday 23rd December – Echo Arena, Liverpool

Tickets for all UK and Ireland gigs are available here.

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'Aquostic II – That's A Fact!' Tracklisting:
Standard CD
That's A Fact
Roll Over Lay Down
Dear John
In The Army Now
Hold You Back
One For The Road
Backwater
One Of Everything
Belavista Man
Lover Of The Human Race
Ice In The Sun
Mess Of The Blues
Jam Side Down
Resurrection

Deluxe Edition CD 1:
That's A Fact
Roll Over Lay Down
Dear John
In The Army Now
Hold You Back
One For The Road
Backwater
One Of Everything
Belavista Man
Lover Of The Human Race
Ice In The Sun
Mess Of The Blues
Jam Side Down
Resurrection
Lies
Little Dreamer
Living On An Island
Is Someone Rocking Your Heart?
Rockers Rollin'

Deluxe Edition CD 2:
And It's Better Now (Live In Stuttgart)
Pictures Of Matchstick Men (Live In Stuttgart)
Don't Drive My Car (Live In Stuttgart)
Claudie (Live In Stuttgart)
Whatever You Want (Live In Stuttgart)
Rocking All Over The World (Live In Stuttgart)

Status Quo are:
Francis Rossi – Vocals/Guitars
Rick Parfitt – Vocals/Guitars
John 'Rhino' Edwards – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Andrew Bown – Keyboards/Guitar/Mandolin/Backing Vocals
Leon Cave – Drums/Backing Vocals

The 'Aquostic' Band also includes:
Amy Smith – Backing Vocals
Hannah Rickard – Backing Vocals/Violin
Geraint Watkins – Accordion/Melodica
Martin Ditcham – Percussion
Lucy Wilkins – Violin
Alison Dods – Violin
Howard Gott – Violin
Nicky Sweeney – Violin
Rick Koster – Violin
Sophie Sirota – Viola
Sarah Willson – Cello

14th October 2016: Status Quo's Rick Parfitt Checks In With Fans
10th September 2016: Status Quo Set The Union Chapel, Islington Ablaze And That's A Fact
24th August 2016: Status Quo Reveal Artwork And Tracklisting For 'Aquostic II – That's A Fact!'
4th August 2016: Status Quo's Rick Parfitt Has All The Reasons To Be Happy In His Convalescence
14th July 2016: Man Down Status Quo Storm The Castle As Freddie Proves He's Ready With These Immortal Chords
1st July 2016: It's Time To Get 'Down Down' To Butlins As Second Status Quo Fan Club Convention Is Announced


Status Quo live shot - (c) Main Stage Photography 2016


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