Sound — 9
From the off, "Quid Pro Quo" is a through-and-through, back to basics album for Status Quo. The previous releases ("The Party Ain't Over Yet" and "In Search Of The Fourth Chord") were very heavily produced to sound big through over-dubs and effects, whereas this one just focuses on the band - barely any un-needed overdubs etc. It sounds a lot more "live", for lack of a better word. Fans will love this fact, as the entire album has that kinda "Heavy Traffic" feel to it; the best faring Quo album of the past 10 years. Saying that they've "gone back to basics" doesn't just mean that everything is gonna be a 3 chord shuffle - not at all (though there IS some of it). Most of that kind of basic, and relatively dull stuff, seems to come from Rick's creative stream. All the best stuff for me comes from Andy Bown, Rhino and Rossi. The playing and arrangements in "Dust To Gold", "The Winner" and "Frozen Hero" are just phenominal to listen to.
Lyrics — 7
Nothing on this album stands out as lyrically inspired or brilliant to me. There's nothing meaningful, deep or particularly clever; the closest thing to a clever lyric on here is the pun on "Reality Cheque". Most of the lyrics are fairly cheap, and almost half-arsed. So, cheesy? Yes. Do they work for the band? I guess so, if you can grin and bare it. You have got to bare in mind that the band wrote some impressive lyrics in their 70's/80's heyday. Vocal wise, the band are on top form. Francis is as vocally impressive as ever. Rick, regardless of the fact that he had a throat operation, provides a damned good vocal performance throughout the album (though I'm sure I can hear some auto-tune in places). Rhino and Andy provide some brilliant harmony work here and there - just check out "Can't See For Looking".
Overall Impression — 8
Most will find this album different from the previous releases by Status Quo. The album, as stated, is quite varied throughout, so it's only fair that I give a brief track-by-track overview... 01. "Two Way Traffic" - the fabled Rossi/Rhino piece that Rhino spoke about in his interview with UG. Sadly however, Rhino does not feature on joint lead vocals with Francis. Reminds me of "Rock Til You Drop". 02. "Rock 'N' Roll 'N' You" - the free download from this album, made available via www.StatusQuo.co.uk. Listening to it, it's a very Andy Bown song from the off. I never noticed it before, but the keyboard intro and the rest of the song do sound stitched together - an afterthought maybe? Something to think about, in any case. 03. "Dust To Gold" - a very quirky piece, echoes the vibe of 2007's "In Search Of The Fourth Chord". By far, one of the best tracks from the album for me. 04. "Let's Rock" - typical Rick Parfitt title, typical Rick Parfitt song. You kinda get what you expect with this; nothing special, in all. The use of brass won't impress many fans either... 05. "Can't See For Looking" - another Rick song, with Rhino and Andy Bown. Rhino and Andy provide impressive three part harmony with Rick on this one - very catchy too! 06. "Better Than That" - another favoured of mine, the best Rossi/Young effort from this release. Ultra-catchy, but does sound like a track written for Rossi's solo effort. 07. "Movin' On" - quite heavy for a Rossi/Young track, to start with. Again sounds very like it belongs on Rossi's solo album. 08. "Leave A Little Light On" - great lyrics, cool guitar work. Kudos to Parfitt on this one. 09. "Any Way You Like It" - some very "country" guitar work on this one, mainly in terms of tone and guitar sounds. I rather like it, but Quo fans probably wouldn't! 10. "Frozen Hero" - the most unique song from the album, largely to it being the first Status Quo song to feature tapping. Very impressive playing from Rossi, and a great song to boot. 11. "Reality Cheque" - another Parfitt piece. Again, nothing special - not bad lyrics, but only passable when compared to other songs on the album. 12. "The Winner" - those of us who were lucky enough heard the demo version of this via Bob Young's website. It was presumed to appear on Francis Rossi's solo album, but here it is. Another different sound for Quo, this one revives memories of "Thirsty Work". 13. "It's All About You" - not a bad song, but not much cop compared to some of the others. Not much of a grower either. 14. "My Old Ways" - very old-school Quo. Not much to listen to in terms of musicality, until you get to the solo - which, I must admit is brilliantly played. 15. "In The Army Now (2010)" - the 2010 re-recording of the band's 80's hit. I don't like the recording myself; the new lyrics aren't great and it's overdone to such a vast extent. The production is so heavily overdone, in typical Pip Williams fashion. The song feels like an afterthought, as it does not fit in with the rest of the album at all. The inclusion of this song was a mistake, I feel. If you loved the heavy stuff (i.e., if you're one of those die-hard fans), you may not enjoy it as much as others. I loved the 80's/90's stuff though, so I have a soft spot for all the quirky stuff that would otherwise fall flat with other fans. The album is a mixed bag, so be prepared.