Qu­a­tro, Scott & Pow­ell

QSP

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Albums - Ian Fort­nam

Glam-rock su­per­group show class and de­liver the goods.

Boast­ing a line-up that would have pretty much shaken the pop world to its very core in 1973 – the year they racked up no less than five No.1 hits be­tween them – Suzi Qu­a­tro, The Sweet’s Andy Scott and Don Pow­ell of Slade tes­sel­late in so seam­less and or­ganic a fash­ion as to put most pre­ced­ing su­per­groups to shame. It would be all too easy to dis­miss QSP with a de­ri­sive “How good can they be?” Maybe you’ve as­sumed that Suzi went coun­try, that the rock’n’roll fire in her belly has long-since been ex­tin­guished, that she’s been lost to the cosy sofa of Loose Women com­pla­cency. Per­haps you’d writ­ten off Scott and Pow­ell as jaded jour­ney­men end­lessly work­ing the in­ter­na­tional chicken-in-a-bas­ket cir­cuit to an ever-dwin­dling hard-core fol­low­ing. Well think again, be­cause Qu­a­tro, Scott & Pow­ell are in­fin­itely bet­ter than they have any right to be.

From their open­ing tu­mul­tuous roar through Larry Wil­liams’s Slow Down, QSP are so fully on top of their game that you won­der why they’ve never done this be­fore. Qu­a­tro’s bass and Pow­ell’s drums lock to­gether as a sin­gle unit, a rhythm sec­tion of rare power that drives the beat and swings the rhythm as Scott’s gui­tar stings and soars, and Suzi un­leashes that un­mis­tak­able, multi-faceted voice of hers: the orig­i­nal blue­print for both Joan Jett’s petu­lant, feral snarl and the cool-’n’brood­ing, Detroit lean­ing of Chrissie Hynde. And it’s a blast. Sure, it’s a cover, but ef­fer­vesced into a clas­sic 1950s set­ting by Ray Beavis’s sax, Jez Davies’s key­boards and a su­perb, no-frills Scott pro­duc­tion it’s fresh, alive and ir­re­sistible.

The pro­tag­o­nists’ un­de­ni­able ma­tu­rity is used to best ad­van­tage across a series of orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions that marry crafts­man­ship with emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence. Qu­a­tro and Scott serve up three col­lab­o­ra­tions; the near-ZZ boo­gie of ode to the road Light Nights Early Flights is rel­a­tively rou­tine, but it’s when they get all widescreen and con­tem­pla­tive that they truly shine, and if blue-col­lar bal­lad Long Way From Home is huge, Pain is im­mense. A real lighter-wa­ver. Suzi digs deep, bares her soul and of­fers a rare glimpse of the vul­ner­a­bil­ity at the heart of her Tus­cadero tomboy tough­ness.

If Only, an­other Qu­a­tro co-write (with late Alice Cooper/Lou Reed gui­tarist

Dick Wag­ner), is pure Brill Build­ing bril­liance, while other vi­brant cov­ers clearly ac­cen­tu­ate the joy at the core of this project, not least Dy­lan’s Just Like A Woman which Suzi only has the au­dac­ity to make her own.

An un­ex­pected tri­umph and then some.

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