The Top 50 Status Quo songs pt.5 (10-2)
Our countdown of the Top 50 Status Quo songs continues. Go below for the fifth part of our rundown: Nos. 10 to 2…
10. Gerdundula 1971
Based on a recurring, Celtic-sounding riff and an irresistible groove, Gerdundula is a song that Quo have recently brought back into their live set. ‘Women seem to pass me by,’ Francis Rossi croons over a compelling, lop-sided beat. ‘If I could find the answer/I’d know the reason why.’ Mistakenly credited to Manston/James on the Dog… album in 1971, it was later claimed that it was Rossi and Bob Young who wrote it. Which is probably true. At the time, Quo were regulars on the European circuit and the song was inspired by two fans they met in Germany, Gerd and Dula (geddit?).
9. Whatever You Want 1979
Written by Rick Parfitt and Quo’s increasingly important keyboard player Andy Bown, Whatever You Want was another Top 5 single, and the title track of their 1979 album. Incredibly, a review by Tony Stewart in NME had put forward the theory that Whatever… was a concept album. “I suppose one or two songs could be seen that way,” Rossi admitted to the paper. If there were such things as unifying themes behind certain tracks, they were the twin aesthetics of freedom and choice. The penguin cheekily wearing a suspender belt on the single’s picture bag seemed to say it all… ‘Whatever you want/Whatever you like/…You pay your money/You take your choice.’
8. Big Fat Mama 1973
The second track from Piledriver to be included here, Big Fat Mama was a song that Quo had played extensively before puting it down on tape. “It took us months to do that track, in rehearsals at the George VI pub in Brixton, next to the prison,” Alan Lancaster later recalled. “Rick came up with the song – it wasn’t really a song, just bits of arrangement – and we spent [ages] trying to do something with it, but it just wouldn’t come together.” Credited to Rossi and Parfitt, the former finally came up with the idea that made the song work.
7. Mean Girl 1971
Just about every male Quo fan has known a mean girl or two down the years, and we could all identify with the lyric: ‘Mean, mean, mean, mean girl/I guess she’s not the kind that I’ve been looking for.’ Unfortunately some of us can also shamefully identify with the couplet: ‘She was a big one/A met-at-a-gig one.’ First heard on the 1971 album Dog Of The Head – back in the days when the band’s guitarists were known as Mike Rossi and Ritchie Parfitt, and Pye Records couldn’t even spell the name of John Coughlan (sic) correctly – Mean Girl was almost four minutes of piledriving boogie that confirmed that Status Quo’s psychedelic years were coming to an end. Fast.
6. Paper Plane 1972
Although it was as long ago as 1972, Francis Rossi still remembers writing Paper Plane with Bob Young at his house, before the band set about recording Piledriver album. “To me the best bit was always the line: ‘Wasn’t really up there with me/We all make mistakes, forgive me.’” That was a case of, “Yes!” he says, mock-punching the air. “From there the song just fell into place.” With the band poised on the brink of a commercial breakthrough, the ‘three-grand Deutsche car’ in the third verse was actually a Mercedes that Quo had bought to ferry themselves around in. “People often say the guitar solo’s great,” Rossi winks, “but I actually ripped it off from Buddy Holly!”
5. Rockin’ All Over The World 1977
The song that Status Quo opened Live Aid with, and a watershed in the band’s fortunes. Parfitt had suggested covering Rockin’ All Over The World, a song that first appeared on a 1975 solo album by former Creedence Clearwater Revival member John Fogerty. “I literally heard it on the car radio one night and thought I’d love to do it,” Parfitt comments. Strangely, it wasn’t a popular proposal, and although it would become the title song of an album it was the last track they recorded for it.
4. Roll Over Lay Down 1973
Roll Over Lay Down is a Quo rarity that is jointly credited to Rossi, Young, Lancaster, Parfitt and Coghlan. “Everyone thought they’d written it,” Rossi laughed years later by way of explanation. The song’s title gives off salaciousness, but Rossi actually wrote the lyrics about quite another form of nocturnal activity: “I can’t overtly write a sexy lyric. My wife at the time used to sleep on my side of the bed,” he says. “The ‘drink cool from the fridge’ was a fucking bottle of milk she’d left on the table that had gone warm – it was all true!”
3. Down Down 1974
Down Down was Status Quo’s one and only UK No.1 single. It was written in a Los Angeles motel by Francis Rossi, who later tidied it up with Bob Young. “John Coghlan had left me with this girl with a big bag of grass – she’d been separating the seeds for me,” Francis said years later. “I’d been fucking around with the guitar when the riff came to me.” The famous lyric ‘I want all the world to see/To see you’re laughing/And you’re laughing at me’ was jointly inspired by Rossi’s ex-wife and a critical media.
2. Caroline 1973
Another one from the Hello! album, Caroline was actually jotted down on a napkin by Francis Rossi and road manager/harmonica player Bob Young while the pair enjoyed a family holiday in Cornwall.
It’s strange to think that the song (which was Quo’s first Top 5 hit) had originally been intended as a lighter, more melodic piece. However, the song burst into life as Quo rehearsed it, with the arrangement we now know taking shape with ease. Rossi and Young later revisited Caroline the way they had first envisaged it for Young’s In Quo Country collection.
Come back tomorrow (December 22) when we’ll reveal the long-awaited No.1!
Tags: Status Quo