The band are in the midst of having some of their earlier albums re-issued as “deluxe editions”. Last year saw “Piledriver” (1972) and “Live!” (1977) get the treatment which included unreleased material of varying quality. “Hello!” (1973), “Quo” (1975) and “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) have all just been released. Again unreleased material is included – in the case of “Quo” a disappointingly bootleg quality live recording – but it’s within the deluxe edition of “Rockin’ All Over The World” that the real gold is contained…
1977 looks to have been a significant year for Status Quo. On the back of a string of self-produced albums since 1972, which had all been successful, the band worked with engineer Damon Lyon-Shaw to co-produce 1976’s “Blue For You” album and the subsequent double “Live!” album which was recorded later that year in Glasgow. “Live!” was released in March 1977 and is rightly regarded as a classic live album in an era when live albums were something of an event for artists. It was also the sound of the band at their heaviest.
When the “Rockin’ All Over The World” hit the shelves in November 1977 though, there had been a significant shift in sound. Guitarist / vocalists Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, bassist / vocalist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan had been joined by keyboardist Andrew Bown as a full-time band member, having previously been a session musician with the group since 1973.
Aside from much more prominent keyboards, the record was also noticeably lighter sonically, with much more emphasis on the treble end of things. As a result, despite the quality of the songs – three of which (“Dirty Water”, “Hold You Back” and of course “Rockin’ All Over The World”) have been regulars in the group’s live set over the subsequent decades – this is an album that has perhaps proved less popular with their fanbase than it deserved.
The reasons for the quality of sound on the original release are varied. Pip Williams was brought in to produce the album for the band, and was assisted by young engineer John Eden. Williams asserted that the band were “under immense pressure to clean it up a bit” and that his job was to “make them more commercial with, perhaps, an American slant”.
Elsewhere Eden has said, I believe, that the record was two songs too long because of a “publishing issue of the writers (within the band) getting their equal share” making the album too long to get the required bottom end. I’m not sure about this particular claim as of the ten songs that the three main writers in the band have a hand in the credits are spilt as follows – 5 for Francis Rossi, 4 for Rick Parfitt and 3 for Alan Lancaster. The remaining two songs have not input from any of the three.
Regardless of the truth behind the publishing claim, Williams also commented on the lack of bottom end, stating “the longer than usual running time meant we had to cope with inner-groove distortion when the record was cut, while also shaving off the low end”.
Both men agree that “it was mixed on Auratones for American AM radio, so that it would sound great coming out of little speakers” and Eden notes that the pills(!) that were being taken may have had an influence on how it sounded too!
So now, some thirty-eight years later, the record has finally been remixed and released as the second disc in the album’s “deluxe edition”. John Eden was the man given the remixing task which was seemingly completed a good couple of years ago, so it’s taken some time to see light of day. The running order for the record has also been changed, at Eden’s suggestion, so it’s kind of like listening to a new album.
“Hold You Back” now starts the record, in place of “Hard Time” which has been moved to the end of the album. Immediately the sound is punchier. The keyboards are far less prominent. The song no longer fades out it comes to a sudden stop followed by some studio chatter from Rossi.
“Baby Boy” is up next and again the keyboards are stripped back. Guitar parts that I’ve never noticed before are suddenly audible. “Hard Time” has saxophone on it. Was that there before?!
“Rockers Rollin'” and “Can’t Give You More” now have their count-ins restored. The guitars sound rawer and rockier. There are some sections – such as the intro to “Let’s Ride” where it sounds as if the source tape may have degraded slightly, but with the improvements made to the rest of the track it doesn’t matter really.
Even “Rockin’ All Over The World” – a song that Parfitt suggested to the band, and one that has suffered a little from over exposure over the years – sounds great. I am one of those who has always enjoyed the original album – I first had it on vinyl back in 1981 – but I have to say that this new version is a massive improvement. The sound is fuller throughout, whilst also reintroducing some rawness to the album so that it sounds much more like the real Status Quo to my ears.
There are four demo tracks tacked onto the end of the disc, recorded in 1976, of “Dirty Water”, “Baby Boy”, “Hard Time” and “Hold You Back”. These are interesting to hear, particularly “Hard Time” which has a different arrangement in the chorus and “Dirty Water” which shows the guitar solo to be a work-in-progress, but are unlikely to be listened to more than a couple of times.
The remixed album, however, is fantastic and breathes new life into the songs. It’s certainly put the album back onto regular rotation for me. An absolutely essential addition to any serious Status Quo collection…“Rockin’ All Over The World Remix” tracklist:
1. Hold You Back / 2. Baby Boy / 3 Rockers Rollin’ / 4. Who Am I? / 5. Rockin’ All Over The World / 6. Dirty Water / 7. Can’t Give You More / 8. Let’s Ride / 9. For You / 10. Too Far Gone / 11. You Don’t Own Me / 12. Hard Time / 13. Dirty Water (Demo) / 14. Baby Boy (Demo) / 15. Hard Time (Demo) / 16. Hold You Back (Demo)