Review: Suzi Quatro – No Control
Since quoting people out of context is all the rage, let’s take a line from Suzi Quatro’s 17th album and wilfully misinterpret it.
“I’m a rolling stone,” she claims on Going Home, but obviously she’s not. For all the records she’s sold – in excess of 50 million – her profile’s nothing like Mick Jagger’s.
But though she’s no longer a household name, Quatro has every reason to be celebrated. A leather-clad bassist when women, if allowed to rock at all, were rarely permitted to be more than decorative, Quatro refused all record company attempts to mould her – whether into ‘the new Janis Joplin’ or ‘the new Lulu’ – and took the boys on at their own game. For a while, too, she succeeded.
She’s also maintained a witty sense of self-awareness, whether playing Leather Tuscadero in Happy Days or affectionately mocking Goldfrapp’s Strict Machine by including elements of her own notably similar Can The Can in her cover version. Suzi Quatro is, in other words, a badass. The time’s ripe for a reminder.
No Control is that, but only at times. It’s at its best when it’s rawest: opener No Soul / No Control sounds like Courtney Love had she enjoyed cleaner bathrooms, while Don’t Do Me No Wrong is a dirty blues jam whose two-note bass riff is spruced up by rowdy blasts of harmonica. The cartoon-esque Heavy Duty, too, punches above its weight, with a sax solo Springsteen might admire, while the closing Going Down Blues suggests she’s not going down without a fight.
Her self-awareness kicks in, too, making even punier tracks entertaining. Who else writes a song called Macho Man, then has it sound like Status Quo, or another called Bass Line: “It’s in the pocket, deep and low”.
As for making brass the defining feature of Strings? That’s the mark of someone who knows just what they’re doing. So, is Quatro like a rolling stone? Nah: then she’d be “a complete unknown”. We can’t let that happen.