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Here we have a new album from British rock legends Status Quo, aptly titled 'Backbone'. It's their 33rd studio album, which press blurb declares as their "33rd 33rpm". Nice! One for the vinyl junkies there. And it is actually receiving a simultaneous vinyl release, alongside CD and digital editions. But it's the album that's taken many by surprise, of course. After the utterly sad, untimely passing of Rick Parfitt at the end of December 2016, I guess the natural presumption would be no more Quo. Recorded, at least, anyway, as they decided to continue as a live act. But recording sessions "just to keep the juices flowing, improvise and have fun" apparently transformed into something a little more solid, in terms of the quality of the material that emerged from those. So, 'Backbone' came to be; born from jamming camaraderie, and the fun shines through with a discernible passion and hunger that can be heard during the album.

While they might now be Parfitt-less, the essence and spirit of Quo is well and truly intact. From Francis Rossi's vocals, to the backing harmonies, to the feel-good factor of the uplifting instrumentations, every song comes with an infectious foot-tapping, head-nodding impetus. And it's all as you would expect from Quo's general M.O., which has always been centred around catchy, sing-along party anthems. 'Backbone' is chock-full of finely crafted and executed melodies, rhythms, riffs and leads that'll satisfy and excite the Quo hordes, with a new arsenal of songs that will undoubtedly sit comfortably alongside all the perennial classics in future live sets. And while nothing here hits the heights of classic Quo (and the very best of the best, Iím talking about), it comes damn near close a number of times. This is the real surprise here: not that the album came to be in the first place, but just how damn great it is.

Of course, styling album after album around a long established, core aesthetic also has its pitfalls. Here, certain passages have an all-too-familiar feel about them. It feels like they're retreading old ground at times, and certain melodies and riffs ring a prominent bell from songs of yore. Yet, arguably, it's that very sense of familiarity that provides the comfort factor in Quo's music. Dare I say, like a pair of old slippers. However, unlike a pair of old slippers that are perhaps past their best and you still can't bring yourself to throw them in the bin, Quo are most certainly not beyond their prime. The magic is evidently still there. I'm sure Rick would've been proud.
Review by Mark Holmes
6th Sept 2019
1) Waiting for a Woman
2) Cut Me Some Slack
3) Liberty Lane
4) I See You're in Some Trouble
5) Backing Off
6) I Wanna Run Away With You
7) Backbone
8) Better Take Care
9) Falling Off the World
10) Get Out of My Head
11) Running Out of Time
"...the essence and spirit of Quo is well and truly intact."