Sound — 8
To give this album a particular genre may be a mistake, so I think I'll try and explain the instrumentation and themes displayed in this album as individually and as in-depth as possible (hopefully without boring you to death in the process). The album is largely soft rock/acoustic, if anything, and is very different to anything that Status Quo have released. Those who are wise about this album will know that Quo did two of it's tracks (to my knowledge) before this album was released, 'The Greatest Fighter' (B-Side, available as bonus track on the album Ain't Complainin') and 'Someone Show Me' Home (If You Can't Stand The Heat). Sadly I have to admit that Status Quo did a better job of these racks than Francis has done on this album. Tracks 1 and 2: most of his 'new' material is brilliant and seem to have been deliberately seperated from Francis' stereotype "Quo" sound. The opening track, 'King Of The Doghouse', is mainly based around acoustic and is composed in a way that keeps you nodding along through to the next track, 'I Don't Know'. 'I Don't Know', in contrast to 'King Of The Doghouse', is played by a full band, two guitars (if not more), bass, drums etc. The disapointing thing about 'I Don't Know' is that effects feel slightly overused in some areas. The WahWah effect on the lead guitar is effective but makes you want to skip the track after a while. Maybe that's just me, I don't know (no pun intended). Tracks 3 and 4: the third track is a nice one called 'Darlin'. This one feels more Quo-ish, due to the presence of the heavily "highlighted" rhythm and blues feel, double stops galore. 'Give Myself To Love' continues a very similair chord sequence, I think, to 'Darlin'. The use of a brass section in this song brings it forward as one of, if not the, best track on the album. It also contains a nice ballance of acoustic and electric guitars which always conjours a nice feel about a song. Tracks 5 and 6: 'Isaac Ryan' is the next track. By the sound of it, it's based around presumabley two acoustics (at least one of which must be capoed), keyboards, bass and percussion. Very beautiful song, to say the least, and as a result it's up there with 'Give Myself To Love as a favourite from the album. 'Happy Town' has got to be my least favourite from the album. The use of what sounds like kettle drums brings it down in estimations, for me. Though I suppose it's meant to sound like "beach" music, it just sounds too 'cheesy', kind of like supermarket music. Skip it! Track 7 and 8: 'Wherever You Go' has a great feel to it. Feels almost like something you'd hear playing when watching Titanic or something. That's a rubbish example, I know, but it's the way the song feels. It seems to grab you easily. You'll like it, trust me! 'Bluewater' is another track that tries to grab you as a "beach" song, though I feel that it does it better than 'Happy Town' does. There's not much else to describe about this track. It's good, but no-where near as good as some of the other tracks. Tracks 9 and 10: the two Quo tracks at the end ofthe album feel as though they might have been re-recorded at the end here to fill time, though they stray very differently from anything Quo attempt to pull off, a trick to satisfy both Fran's original fans and enough to attract new ones. 'The Greatest Fighter' is in a different key to Quo's version, plus it was only a B-side for Quo, making it hard for anyone to notice the fatc that it's re-cycled. It has an odd feel about it, using a major 3rd chord, if that makes sense to anyone, I don't know. A good track, to say the least. 'Someone Show Me Home' feel very different to Status Quo's original. Seemingly based around keyboards more than guitar at first, the acoustic kicks in, back by a slight reverb/echo effect, grabing you from the off. A beautiful track, though it feels slightly too '80s to have been released in 1996.
Lyrics — 7
Some of the lyrics are very iffy in this album, I must say. The lyrics in 'King Of The Doghouse' are very effective, depicting a fight between a man and his spouse, as are the lyrics in 'Someone Show Me Home'. 'Happy Town', on the other hand, seems not to have been given much thought, lyric-wise. "I wanna live in a Happy Town!" put me off from the start. Fran's vocals are great, and the backing vocals fit perfectly. The backing on 'King Of The Doghouse' seem very generic though, as if done by a computer. That ruins the vocals in somep places, but if you're forgiving enough, it can be ignored. Nothing much more to say on the vocals. Good (for need of a better word).
Overall Impression — 8
I love this album. Some hardcore Quo fans may shun it without a second glance, but I love it. Though it wrenches my heart to say som, it's better then Rick (Parfitt)'s solo attempt. If you see it, and you know of Francis' work, it's worth buying. It's rare, for a start, and it's a great listen.