It’s Thursday, it’s seven o’clock…it’s Top of the Pops! (Crackerjack was Fridays at five, but seemed like a relevant misuse of their catchphrase).
It was 1973, the time of the hormonal youth of fourteen, and ToTP was a must see each week… most of the music was crap as I’d already adopted heavy rock, but Pans People were not to be missed! In (I think) June of that year I witnessed the birth of a legend… a girl in a leather cat suit with a bass slung way down low singing a rock song called ‘Can The Can’. That was when I first saw and fell in love with Suzi Quatro. OK, her stuff was more glam than rock and some of it (as the Chinn/Chapman machine wrote most of her initial output) was anodyne, she still injected a fun, sultry and capable sheen to the songs. It was later in her fifty years plus career when the true nature of her rock, blues and Detroit soul roots manifested themselves. I’m delighted to say that, after the rather average Quatro/Sweet/Slade release of last year, she has now released an album of power that suits her still magnificent pipes.
No Control is eleven tracks of blues-rock and soul. It is actually very, very good despite a calypso slip on ‘Love Isn’t Fair’ which is OK, but feels out of place with the rest. The others are strong, ‘Going Home’ is blues-rock with a driving beat and subtle chord work and the bonus of neat B3 work after the bridge. ‘Strings’ is funky blues with harmonies and horns. ‘Macho Man’ could have been straight from ’73 with its Quotro (not a misprint) feel. Best of the lot is the slide and harmonica laced ‘Don’t Do Me Wrong’ where Suzi pulls all of the elements together in a bass driven blues-rock song of quality. ‘Heavy Duty’ and ‘I Can Teach You To Fly’ are glam-rock Suzi with more brass slotted in and, although the latter is a bit Coz I Luv You, they’re still great fun. Closer ‘Going Down Blues’ is a blues rocker, with a combination of guitar, brass and piano in the staccato intro and then the straightforward groove of Chicago blues giving added weight, and a clever shift of pace to the fade.
This is an album of depth and skill that may not be apparent on first listen but given time it reveals Suzi’s true capabilities as writer, player, singer and all round performer. No, it won’t set the world alight but it is a damn sight better than a lot of the so-called rock out there at the moment…plus, her sense of fun runs through the whole album and takes you along with it.