ALBUM REVIEW: Status Quo - Backbone


ALBUM REVIEW: Status Quo - Backbone

The new album from Status Quo has divided the band’s legion of fans. The first new music since the death of founding member Rick Parfitt in 2016, Backbone marks out a new era for a band that’s already had its fair share of eras. Whether it should or shouldn’t have been released under the name of Status Quo, or recorded at all for that matter, is an argument that can be played out elsewhere - we’re not getting into it here. 

Backbone finds the band energised and optimistic. With two new members in Richie Malone (rhythm guitar) and Leon Cave (drums), there’s youth and vibrancy to balance out the experience of stalwarts Francis Rossi, Andy Bown and John ‘Rhino’ Edwards. It’s not all plain sailing though.

Opening track “Waiting For A Woman” chugs along anonymously and doesn’t inspire confidence for what’s to come. It’s all a bit pedestrian and predictable; something Quo might have got away with as a mid-album track. From the opening riff to a muffled solo more befitting a beginner guitarist than Francis Rossi, it’s instantly forgettable.  Thankfully though, things improve quickly. 

Even in Quo’s heyday of double denim, obscene volume levels and long hair, the thumping, heavy sound was offset by Rossi’s ability to knit a hook into every song. With Cut Me Some Slack, Liberty Lane, and title track Backbone, he shows there are few better at it. Later, Get Out Of My Head shoots out of the blocks at some pace, sounding like a cut off Piledriver with a little (a lot) more production. It’s fast and powerful, but with that signature pop-hook edge that sets Quo in a field of its own. 

The other mid-album tracks for the most part tick the blues shuffle box, but with Quo that’s far from standard as each are littered with glorious turnarounds between sections and riffing that instantly provokes head bobbing and toe-tapping. The layered vocal refrain in I See You’re In Some Trouble kicks the song into a new gear, dragging the ear away from the classic blues formula. In Better Take Care Rossi recovers from the opening track’s misfire with a some excellent soloing as bassist Rhino assumes backing vocal duties. 

As it started though, Backbone finishes on a bit of a low with Running Out Of Time. That it’s more reminiscent of mid-2000s albums Under The Influence and Heavy Traffic, speaks volumes for the strength of the album’s other nine tracks. 

A band of Status Quo’s stature and longevity faces the impossible task of sounding familiar to stalwart fans at the same time as innovating, updating and progressing. There will be purists who might never be pleased but given a fair listen it’s hard to see anyone picking too much fault with Backbone. 

With significant airplay already, thanks to those rock/pop crossover melodies, it’s likely this collection will add a few new fans waiting for an excuse to break out the double denim. In a modern Status Quo live set they’ll more than hold their own alongside the Frantic Four’s classics and, for more open-minded Quo fans, will represent a welcome return to form.

Xsnoize Author
Daniel Lynch 40 Articles
Daniel is a freelance journalist and writer based in Belfast. He plays guitar in several bands and releases their music through his label, Tin Man Heart. Favourite bands - Thin Lizzy, Gaslight Anthem, Tom Waits and Ryan Adams Favourite Album - Elsie - The Horrible Crowes


  1. Yet another wonderful QUO album. I have been a fan for decades and will continue to be so. Love the new LP. Like with the others, it gets better the more you play it.

  2. I’m 58 and 11 months young and I first heard Matchstickmen in 1968 standing transfixed in the school playground.
    It was what you call an epiphany, two years later I had a similar experience when I heard DOWN THE DUSTPIPE at a mate’s 9th Birthday party. I played the 2 minute song half a dozen times until they stopped me. LOL!!
    The BACKBONE album cannot be compared to their early eras, it has to be judged on its own merits.
    I’m a massive ALAN LANCASTER supporter and I listen to new ‘QUO’ as if I was Alan’s ears.
    What would Alan think of this material?
    Now, I think ” What would Rick think of this new material?”
    I feel that it’s an album of integrity and dignity, it is a Rock album with versatility and adventure.
    Each time I hear it, I hear something different, something good.
    The standout tracks are written by Leon and Rhino( separately )
    I’m giving the album 7.5/10

  3. Well done review. It was at Strijen Rocks festval with the Quo, we had our banner straight in the air (Text: “We are not waiting for Jezus (referring to the song from Francis/Rickard), we want a new QUO album Hard and Heavy, NO SHIT!!), when Rossi a few minutes later referred to us and announced to play 2 numbers (liberty Lane/Cut Me Some Slack) from a new album called BACKBONE. We were amazed and happy surprised, it was heavy/cool/brisk and familiar. Thank You Quo for a very nice and inspiring album. Fresh Qouta!!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD, love it, greetings Haye (only 57 and ultimate FAN since ’72) from Holland.

  4. Heard status quo in mayo castlebar a few years ago before poor rick parfitt passed away and boy could they rock /‘Twas a great concert but they now have moved on since rip r parfait/ What could they do apart from retire or still keep going I’m Just sampling the new album tonight and it is still very quo /sounds fab. Reg des

  5. I’ve liked Quo since 1989 I saw them live the year later. And seen them a lot when they came to Bournemouth they are brilliant. I do miss rick Parfitt though but Richie Malone is a good replacement. quo won’t ever be the same. But they are still good. I love the new Quo album mind you I’m like that with all there albums. Well ok 1 or 2 wasn’t great but biggest part of them were brilliant. This is up there.

  6. I’ve been a die-hard rock fan since the 1960s. I thought I’d heard everything there was to hear, including acts that got little footing in America, like Budgie. A few weeks ago, Status Quo came up on a streaming service as recommended listening based on my tastes. Oh, the guys who did “Pictures of Matchstick Men”? I’d heard of that, I guess. So I threw on “Hello!” and became an instant fan. Days later I discovered THAT THEY STILL WERE AROUND. And then I found out they were about to release a new album! It’s incredible that these guys didn’t get huge in America, but I’m so glad I found them. One of my favorites ever now!

  7. Every band has to move forward and produce different sounds at some time in their career. Who have proved over the years this has to be so. A very fair review but don’t forget just one earful cannot cast a solid judgement. They have always been the punch bag of the industry but oddly enough still doing it. Nice one one guys

  8. A good unbiased review, and I agree wholly with it. As a long long standing Quo fan I think this is good album, and thankfully still has that instantly recognisable Quo chug. Well done lads!

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