Tag Archives: Richie Malone

The Last Night Of The Electrics

Rick Parfitt

When I addressed the last – to date – studio album by legendary rock band Status Quo, 2016’s “Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!” and, more recently, shared my thoughts on the passing of the late, great Rick Parfitt, I noted that I wasn’t sure where the band would go in the wake of the band’s decision to go unplugged in future and after Parfitt’s decision last year to depart the band.

Well, here is perhaps the first indication. “The Last Night Of The Electrics” is a live album from the group, recorded at the O2 Arena in London last December – almost two months subsequent to Parfitt leaving the band but prior to his death. It’s been billed as an “emotionally charged set” though I’m not sure why that would be true of this particular gig? One could perhaps speculate that it’s a subtle way of pulling at the emotions around Parfitt’s passing, or is that just the cynic in me?

Status Quo – Live!

Regardless, this album is only the seventh live album, by my reckoning, in the band’s long history. 1977’s double “Live!” will for many be forever the benchmark by which any Quo live release should be judged. It’s certainly head and shoulders above the average “Live Alive Quo” (1992) and the more recent “Aquostic! Live At The Roundhouse” but for my money “Live At The N.E.C.” (1982) is also a cracking show – particularly if you can find the whole radio-transmitted performance rather than the edited LP. I guess, ultimately, the relative scarcity of Quo live releases is at least in part indicative of the static nature of the huge majority of their setlists over the years. Sound-wise, “The Last Night Of The Electrics” isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. The sound is a bit muddy to my ears and there are definite issues as a result of Parfitt’s absence.

Richie Malone

The set kicks of, as is the norm, with “Caroline” and it must be said that young guitarist Richie Malone does a creditable job on pulling off Parfitt’s tremendous rhythm parts. The hole left by Parfitt becomes much more obvious when his lead and co-lead vocal parts need covering. Parfitt himself struggled vocally at times in recent years during live show, but here bassist John “Rhino” Edwards takes some of these parts and, I’m afraid, doesn’t really do the job justice.

Francis Rossi, Richie Malone & John “Rhino” Edwards

Hearing songs like “Caroline” or “Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like” with Edwards singing with Francis Rossi, or even keyboardist Andrew Bown filling in for Parfitt on “Whatever You Want” or “The Wanderer”, when you’ve had decades of hearing the brilliant combination of Rossi and Parfitt – well it’s not quite like listening to a tribute band but it feels odd nonetheless. Sadly, it’s worse when Edwards takes lead on “Rain” and “Creepin’ Up On You”…

Andrew Bown & John “Rhino” Edwards

For some reason all of Rossi’s between song banter has been removed from the recording. Time limitations? A set lasting less than 95 minutes on a double CD (space for 140+ minutes) suggests not. Reviews of the show in question report that no mention was made of the missing rhythm guitarist so maybe that has something to do with it, I don’t know. On that front, though, Rossi changing the long-standing “…can’t escape this Ricky in my ears…” in “Burning Bridges” to instead sing “…can’t escape this paddy in my ears…” (Malone is Irish) seems a bit insensitive, I would have thought it would have been better to return to the song’s original “ringing” lyric.

Leon Cave

Rossi himself struggles vocally at times throughout this show, but guitar-wise is as on-the-money as you would expect. Elsewhere, drummer Leon Cave is solid but unremarkable and his drum solo would have been better cut out along with Rossi’s banter, to be honest. Of the set, you know what you’re going to get but even the “Heavy Traffic” songs have been played to death in the same order for years now, and “Gerdundula”, always a favourite of mine, now seems over-extended and is sounding tired.

Since the album was recorded and scheduled for release the band have announced that the “Last Night…” tour – supposed to be their final electric tour would now not be, with 2017’s winter tour, previously branded as “Aquostic Live – It Rocks!” (and, let’s be honest, as entertaining as the acoustic stuff is, it most definitely does not rock) will now be an electric affair under the title “Plugged In – Live And Rockin'”. With the “blame” for the turn to acoustic shows now being laid at Parfitt’s door – health issues apparently, though the man himself said he wasn’t interested in doing the acoustic thing – does this mean that future tours, if there are to be any, will also be electric?

Status Quo

This probably all sounds very negative, and I really don’t mean to be. I love Quo, and have done for many years, but this one doesn’t really excite me I’m afraid. I think that if the band are to continue without losing too many supporters then the new line-up needs to get into a recording studio and come up with a new album to promote and need to change the setlist to remove the songs that relied heavily on Parfitt’s voice – they have more than enough hits and album tracks to replace them with…

“The Last Night Of The Electrics” tracklist:

1. Caroline / 2. The Wanderer / 3. Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like / 4. Rain / 5. Softer Ride / 6. Beginning Of The End / 7. Hold You Back / 8. Medley : a. What You’re Proposin’ / b. Down The Dustpipe / c. Wild Side Of Life / d. Railroad / e. Again And Again / 9. The Oriental / 10. Creepin’ Up On You / 11. Gerdundula / 12. In The Army Now / 13. The Caveman (Drum Solo) / 14. Roll Over Lay Down / 15. Down Down / 16. Whatever You Want / 17. Rocking All Over The World / 18. Burning Bridges / 19. Rock ‘N’ Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny

1, 5 and 14 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 2 originally a single release (1984) / 3 originally from “Never Too Late” (1981) / 4 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 6 originally from “In Search Of The Fourth Chord”(2007) / 7 and 17 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 8a originally from “Just Supposin’” (1980) / 8b originally a single release (1970) / 8c originally a single release (1976) / 8d originally from “Dog Of Two Head” (1971) / 8e originally from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat…” (1978) / 9 and 10 originally from “Heavy Traffic” (2002) / 15 and 19b originally from “On The Level” (1975) / 16 originally from “Whatever You Want” (1979) / 18 originally from “Ain’t Complaining” (1988) / 19a cover of Chuck Berry single (1957)

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Rick Parfitt 1948 – 2016

rick_parfitt_of_status_quo_forced_to_abandon_european_tour_music_scene_irelandA week ago today I was enjoying a Christmas Eve meal with the in-laws when the awful news came through – Status Quo man Rick Parfitt had died. More than any high-profile musician to pass away in the previous twelve months – whether it be Lemmy, David Bowie, Prince, etc. etc. this one affected me.

Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2015
Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2015

I knew I was going to have to make some comment on his passing – but what to say to begin to do the justice to man and his contribution to music? There were some lovely words on various news sites etc. following Rick’s death but he was quickly replaced there when George Michael passed away the very next day.

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

No disrespect to George Michael, who was a great singer, but for me the amount of coverage that he was given vs. Rick seemed to suggest that he was by far the more significant and iconic figure. And maybe to many he was, whilst perhaps it was also reflective of how often Quo have been derided in the press as three chord wonders etc.

Anyway, I suspect that my family may have grown a little tired of the sound of Quo blasting from my speakers over the past week as I’ve paid tribute to Rick and the boys through the stereo and reacquainted myself with much of their music that had slipped from the kind of regular rotation that it used to enjoy.

Status Quo Live In 1981
Status Quo Live In 1981

Quo were my first love as a band, way back in 1981, and have been right up there ever since. Having received the brand new “Never Too Late” album as an Easter present that year, I obtained their entire album back catalogue as quickly as I was able to and have followed the band through all the highs and lows ever since.

Status Quo Live In 1984
Status Quo Live In 1984

In the summer of 1984 I went to see the band live for the first time on their “End Of The Road” tour. At the time I thought it would be my one and only opportunity to witness them play, as the tour was billed as a farewell to the road. And contrary to the jibes aimed at the band, until this year’s “Last Night Of The Electrics” final electric tour before a switch to acoustic touring, that has been their one and only “farewell” tour!. Luckily for me, and many thousands of others, a re-grouping in 1986 meant the return of the band on record and on stage.

Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2007
Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2007

Since then I’ve enjoyed a further fourteen Quo shows, including my wife’s first ever rock concert on the “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” tour. Nothing compared to a great many regular gig goers I’m sure, and I have to confess that my enthusiasm waned at times for their concerts as the set list remained pretty static for long periods of time. Nonetheless, every single show that I went to was well worth the time and money as the band never failed to give anything but a top-class performance.

Roy Lynes, Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In Late 1960s
Roy Lynes, Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In Late 1960s

Having been an ever-present since joining in the late 60s, it was with great sadness that I learnt of Rick’s decision not to return to the band following his latest heart attack this summer. I could completely understand that though, given the need to protect his health and also his desire that if he was going to make further music it needed to “rock” – which sadly the band’s recent studio output and future touring plans do not accommodate.

Francis Rossi On Stage
Francis Rossi On Stage

Francis Rossi has been on the receiving end of an awful lot of stick from so-called Quo fans who seem to take great delight in slagging off everything that the band have done since the “frantic four” ceased to be in 1982. Whilst I realise that Francis has been for a long time the leader of the band I think that this abuse is very unfair. There is an argument that if he’s had his way then Quo would have been doing acoustic and country-style music for decades and that he resented playing the old hits all the time. There may be some truth to this. Certainly he is more inclined to go down the acoustic and lighter Quo route than Rick was, and many a musician who’s been performing for a long time is surely going to tire of some of the material that really has to be played to satisfy both the hardcore and casual concert goer?

Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt
Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt

What is beyond doubt to me, though, is that Francis and Rick have been the public face of Quo for many years now. With Rick gone many have called the band the Francis Rossi Band or Francis Rossi’s Quo.

The Frantic Four
The Frantic Four – John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster & Francis Rossi

Let’s look at the facts. Whilst Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan were all band members between 1967 and 1981, the “frantic four” itself only lasted from 1970 (following the departure of keyboardist Roy Lynes) to late 1976 (when Andrew Bown became an official member). So, depending on your point of view either fifteen or just seven years. Plus a handful of reunion gigs in 2013 and 2014 of course. In that time they produced eleven (or six!) studio albums.

Rick Parfitt, Francis Rossi & John "Rhino" Edwards On Stage In 1988
Rick Parfitt, Francis Rossi & John “Rhino” Edwards On Stage In 1988

John “Rhino” Edwards has been playing bass for Quo since 1986. By my reckoning – and leaving drummers aside as there have now been four since Coghlan left – that means the core of Rossi, Parfitt, Bown and Edwards were together for thirty years, at least double that of the fabled “frantic four”, and produced sixteen studio albums. Surely, then, those band members have every right to keep calling themselves Status Quo – even after Rick’s departure and death?

Status Quo Backstage In 1991
Status Quo Backstage In 1991

Yes, the bulk of the live set is still taken from the pre-1982 albums but, again, isn’t that the curse of so many “heritage” acts who are compelled to play the old stuff live in preference over their newer material? Bottom line, for me, is that “Quo-light” is as essential overall as the “classic” band and that, frankly, we should be grateful to Francis, Rick and co. for all the great music and performances that they’ve given us since 1986.

Andrew Bown & Richie Malone On Stage In 2016
Andrew Bown & Richie Malone On Stage In 2016

Following his enforced retirement from the band, Richie Malone has come in as stand-in for Rick on the band’s recent tour dates and done a great job by most accounts. However, at this point, who knows what – if any – future the band has?

Rick Parfitt - Bad Hair Day!
Rick Parfitt – Bad Hair Day!

I digress. Back to the late Mr. Parfitt. When I was young it was Rick who I aspired to be. Sure sometimes I had to pretend to be Francis (with my shirt collar turned under to imitate his grandad shirt!) so that I could sing the lead vocals while miming away to the records, but it was Rick, the golden-maned rock god (let’s ignore some of the naff haircuts he had occasionally!), for the heads down riffing and some of the best songs too.

Rick Parfitt In 1978
Rick Parfitt In 1978

Over the years Rick composed many of the great Quo classics. Not often as sole writer (this applies equally to Francis) but his early co-writes with Francis, then with Alan Lancaster and later with Andrew Bown, John “Rhino” Edwards and recently Wayne Morris have produced some of the best songs on each of the band’s albums – the sole exception being 1994’s “Thirsty Work” which is also the least Quo-sounding album, which is surely no random coincidence.

Rick Parfitt On Stage
Rick Parfitt On Stage

I could list all his writing credits, but if you’re really interested head over to From The Makers Of… which has a comprehensive list. Selected highlights, however, include the following: “Forty Five Hundred Times”, “Rain”, “Don’t Drive My Car” and “Mystery Song” would all easily be in my all-time Quo top ten songs and the likes of “Softer Ride”, “Belavista Man”, “Mystery Song”, “Little Lady” and “The Power Of Rock” wouldn’t be far behind. Many of Rick’s songs feature his distinctive lead vocals too.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In 1970s
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In 1970s

On record, then, Rick had an invaluable input into the band’s superb legacy. Onstage, is there any better sound than all those instantly recognisable riffs being hammered out on his battered white Telecaster, or the perfection of Rick and Francis as they lock into the groove? Yes, age and health issues took their toll on his singing voice but he was still superb when I last saw the band at Lechlade last year.

There was talk of an autobiography and solo album for 2017. Neither will presumably see the light as they surely can’t have had much work done to them. There was a solo record named “Recorded Delivery” cut around 1985 so hopefully that my now finally get an official release.

Lyndsay Whitburn & Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt With Third Wife Lyndsay Whitburn

Rick may have had faults as a human being – too much indulgence in drink and drugs through the years and something of a weakness for the ladies perhaps – but whenever I saw him perform or appear on TV etc. there was a down to earth natural humour that shone though and he was the perfect foil to Francis.

Whatever happens now with Status Quo – and I hope the band do carry on (though I’d still rather they plugged back in and rock a bit!) – things can never quite be the same without Rick.  We’re moving house in a week, and I really should be packing stuff, so I’d better get on… Despite my best efforts, I don’t think I’ve come close to doing Rick justice. Suffice it to say he was a huge inspiration to me and many others, and is simply a massive loss. Rest in peace…

Rick Parfitt 1948 - 2016
Rick Parfitt 1948 – 2016

Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!

status-quo-aquostic-ii-thats-a-fact

Status Quo - Aquostic... Stripped Bare
Status Quo – Aquostic… Stripped Bare

Following on from 2014’s “Aquostic… Stripped Bare” album, British rock legends Status Quo have now unleashed their follow-up record, “Aquostic 2 – That’s A Fact!”.

Whereas the first instalment contained 25 back catalogue tracks re-worked as acoustic versions, this record features a further 16 re-workings alongside 3 brand new songs.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi

As before, the arrangements are not simply Quo stripped back to acoustic guitars – as many would have preferred – but feature a variety of additional musicians with instruments including strings, accordion, percussion etc. added. Although I enjoyed that approach first time out I must admit that at times the extra instrumentation feels intrusive and unnecessary to my ears with “Aquostic 2”.

Status Quo Live At The Union Chapel 2016
Status Quo Live At The Union Chapel 2016

I mentioned with the first record that 22 of the 25 tracks were from 1968-1983 and just 3 from 1986-1991 and nothing from anything originally recorded since then. So what do we have on volume two? Well again the bulk comes from the earlier “Frantic Four” phase of the band’s career, with 10 from 1968-1983, 6 from the period 1986-2005 and the 3 new tracks.

Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi

Over the two volumes, therefore, all original studio albums (ignoring the 3 covers albums and the “Bula Quo” soundtrack album) are represented by at least one re-working with the exception of “Spare Parts” (1969), “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon” (1970), “Under The Influence” (1999), “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” (2007), and “Quid Pro Quo” (2011). It might, perhaps, have been nice to dump a few of the obvious choices and included material from these five records – particularly the latter three which all contain great songs.

crmrootw8aakmyiAnyway, I digress. To the album itself… some of the tracks work very well indeed – the single “That’s A Fact”, “In The Army Now” are amongst those with fairly minor tweaking from the original arrangements. A number of very similar to their electric versions – such as “Jam Side Down”, “Living On An Island” and “Lies” – but there are a few that are really quite different to the versions that my ears are used to hearing. Of those, “Roll Over Lay Down” is pretty good, but I am not overly keen on “Lover Of The Human Race” even though I did like the original (on one of the band’s possibly least-loved records) and I don’t like what they’ve done to the 1982 hit “Dear John” at all.

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

Looking at the new songs, “Is Someone Rocking Your Heart” is the best of the three but in truth none of them are especially catchy or memorable – something that can certainly be said of most of Quo’s best work in the past.

Although Rick Parfitt plays and sings on the record he suffered a major heart attack on tour earlier this year and has just announced – via an interview with Classic Rock magazine – that he will not be returning to the band in a performing capacity. Francis Rossi, the undoubted leader of the group, has decided that the current “The Last Night Of The Electrics” tour will be the last time they perform with the famous Telecasters plugged in and that future touring will be in the Aquostic style only.

richie-maloneThis tour sees Parfitt’s rhythm guitar role being performed by guitarist Richie Malone (a long-term Quo fan) and his vocal duties shared between bassist John “Rhino” Edwards and keyboardist Andrew Bown. Having taken the decision not to return, Parfitt stated that “…in my heart I’m a rocker, I’ve always been. If I’m going to make music it’s got to rock…” and that “…there would probably have been room for me if I decided I wanted to, but I’m not a great fan of the whole acoustic malarkey. It doesn’t float my boat…”. While he is careful not to say anything negative towards his old bandmate it’s clear that Rossi calls the shots.

Francis Rossi, John "Rhino" Edwards & Andrew Bown
Francis Rossi, John “Rhino” Edwards & Andrew Bown

The band’s official statement states that “…Rick will step back from his regular touring commitments with the band…” but that his “…connection with and within the band of course remains intact and that he will continue to be involved with future non-touring commercial activities of the band…” Quite what that means if Rossi is determined to stick to the Aqoustic formula, which Parfitt doesn’t like, is anyone’s guess but further recording involving Parfitt appears unlikely.

Leon Cave
Leon Cave

Overall, then, this is a pleasant enough album. Both Rossi and Parfitt’s voices are showing their age – oddly Rossi sounds better during the group’s plugged-in concerts than on this album – but at 67 and 68 respectively then that’s no huge surprise. The rest of the group, the aforementioned Edwards, Bown and drummer Leon Cave acquit themselves well enough within this context but, as with the two main men I prefer to hear them plugged in and at full flight.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi

Given that Quo’s last proper album – 2011’s “Quid Per Quo” – was such a great record it’s a real shame that their career looks to be coming to a close with a fairly naff film soundtrack (“Bula Quo” in 2013) and now two acoustic re-imaginings after so many great years of quality rock records. I for one will miss the days with Rossi and Parfitt cranking out all those classic riffs and songs…status-quo-btm

“Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!” tracklist:

1. That’s A Fact / 2. Roll Over Lay Down / 3. Dear John / 4. In The Army Now / 5. Hold You Back / 6. One For The Road / 7. Backwater / 8. One Of Everything / 9. Belavista Man / 10. Lover Of The Human Race / 11. Ice In The Sun / 12. Mess Of The Blues / 13. Jam Side Down / 14. Resurrection / 15. Lies / 16. Little Dreamer / 17. Living On An Island / 18. Is Someone Rocking Your Heart? / 19. Rockers Rollin’

1 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 2 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 3 originally from “1+9+8+2” (1982) / 4 originally from “In The Army Now” (1986) / 5 and 19 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 6, 8 and 18 brand new songs / 7 originally from “Quo” (1974) / 9 originally from “The Party Ain’t Over Yet” (2005) / 10 originally from “Thirsty Work” (1994) / 11 originally from “Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From” (1968) / 12 originally from “Back To Back” (1983) / 13 originally from “Heavy Traffic” (2002) / 14 originally from “Never Too Late” (1981) / 15 originally from “Just Supposin'” (1980) / 16 originally from “Perfect Remedy” (1989) / 17 originally from “Whatever You Want” (1979)