Forgotten series: The Status Quo – Messages from the Status Quo (1968)

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Hailing from London, England, the Status Quo went on to acquire massive fame in the United Kingdom where their abdominal success persists today. Formed in 1962 and initially called the Spectres, the group recorded a few singles for the Picadilly label, then changed their name to Traffic Jam, but were soon forced to switch handles once again in order not to be confused with Traffic, who had recently become darlings of the scene.

So the Status Quo, they were christened.

Armed with a quilt of quavering harmonies, the band obviously spent many hours studying the precious pipes of the Bee Gees. In fact, a cover of the Brother Gibb’s “Spicks And Specks” even appears here on the Status Quo’s debut album. But the group sprinkled far more lysergic fairydust on their material than the Bee Gees, making them seem like choir boys tripping on hallucinogenics.

Slathered with loud and noisy wah-wah guitars, accompanied by squiggly hooks, surreal lyrics and the Status Quo‘s signature high-pitched choruses, “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” reached No. 12 on the national charts in the early summer of 1968. Due to the instant acceptance of the striking single, the band clearly brandished pounds of promise and were expected to set further fire to American airwaves.

But it was not to be, and therefore the Status Quo remains a one hit wonder band on this soil.

Along with the band’s chart-topping winner, Messages from the Status Quo features a stash of similarly structured songs. Built upon a foundation architected of chunky riffs, rolling organ drills, kaleidoscopic verse and compact arrangements, tracks such as “Black Veils Of Melancholy,” “Sunny Cellophane Sky,” “Technicolor Dreams,” “Ice In The Sun” and “When My Mind Is Not Live” collate flower power flickerings with a melody-matted presence in a most agreeable manner.

Flush with catchy paisley-padded pop tunes, Messages from the Status Quo is fun, frivolous and freaky all at the same time. Those who appreciate the clever and colorful complexion of the Move, the Creation and psychedelic era Beatles will not be the least disappointed with the album.

Shortly after Messages from the Status Quo was released, the band reduced their moniker down to simply Status Quo, adopted a hard-fisted boogie sound that bore not a stitch of resemblance to their Bee Gees on acid period, and sold acres and acres of records to British rock fans. But that’s another story altogether.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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