I stumbled across the documentary ‘Suzi Q’ on TV back last year and I was amazed how much I didn’t know about the legendary Queen of rock, Suzi Quatro. Of course, I knew the classic songs from the 70s, ‘Devil Gate Drive’, ‘Can the Can’ and ‘48 Crash’, who doesn’t? The image of Quatro in a leather cat suit with a Fender bass that’s bigger than her slung low, is an image that’s ingrained into my mind (as well as many young, and not so young males). I also knew about the rasping voice and that scream that’s instantly recognisable. What I didn’t realise was how revered she is in the music world, with peers such as Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and Alice Cooper clambering over each other to sing her praises. As the Runaways Cherie Currie says, “If people have overlooked her, that’s their fault.”
She has inspired generations of her own gender to pick up an instrument as well as being completely aware of her sexuality and she has used that to her advantage in the best possible way over the years. It’s testament to her talent and determination that she’s still releasing material today and her latest effort ‘The Devil in Me’ hints back to her roots in Detroit, you can hear everything that makes the motor city such a great music town, from the Stooges, the MC5, the blues legend John Lee Hooker as well as the monstrous pop factory Tamla Motown in the twelve tracks that make up the album. While this isn’t as good as Alice Cooper’s own recently released homage to the motor city, ‘Detroit Stories’, there are some fine moments to be heard here.
This is Quatro’s seventeenth studio record and it’s been written and produced by Suzi and her son Richard Tuckey. There are nods to the glory days of the 70s with the title track, starting with some blaring feedback and a crunchy riff and plenty of those trademark screams, it’s a great opener with some fantastic honky tonk piano and harmonicas pushing the song along nicely. ‘Hey Queenie’ utilises my favourite drum, the cowbell to great effect with a funky feel and a fist pumping chorus to boot.
‘Betty Who?’ Grooves along nicely with more tasteful guitar licks and some soul style backing vocals. Another catchy chorus here with some great bass playing by Quatro. It’s not all great though, ‘You Can’t Dream It’ is a bit throw away with a lacklustre performance and Christmas song ‘My Heart and Soul’ won’t be popping up on one of those NOW That’s the Best Christmas Album in the World….Ever compilations any time soon. Things pick up again for Get Outta Jail with its chain gang vocals adding character to the song. ‘Do Ya Dance’ is another mid paced funky number with loads going on. Things quickly go downhill again; however, ‘Isolation Blues’ is very predictable and not really what we want to hear from Quatro.
‘I Sold My Soul Today’ is an up-tempo rocker that would sound great in a car chase scene in a Hollywood blockbuster, Love’s Gone Bad is another throw away track that doesn’t really go anywhere. ‘In the Dark’ is a sultry number with some nice saxophone playing (I love a sax solo). The album closes with some good old greasy rock ‘n’ roll with ‘Motor City Riders’, this is where Quatro sounds most comfortable, and the best tracks on the album all have this kind of feel. This is more like it! She can certainly kick out the jams with the best of them. Her chapter in rock ‘n’ roll is a very important one, and we all need to remember how tough it must have been for Suzi to carve out a career for herself back in the 70s. All hail Suzi Q!
Buy ‘The Devil In Me’ Here
Author: Kenny Kendrick