sun 20/09/2020

Hello Quo | reviews, news & interviews

Hello Quo

Hello Quo

Again, again, again, again, again... The definitive Quo documentary

Deeper and down: classic Quo posturingAll Images © Rex

We currently seem to be awash with rockumentaries. The Rolling Stones have yet another retrospective out, while Friday night on BBC Four would not be complete without dusting off the back catalogue of some mid-table band once adored by some nice middle-aged folk unable to find a babysitter.

We currently seem to be awash with rockumentaries. The Rolling Stones have yet another retrospective out, while Friday night on BBC Four would not be complete without dusting off the back catalogue of some mid-table band once adored by some nice middle-aged folk unable to find a babysitter. Status Quo fare better than a BBC Four slot, if less well than Jagger & co's la-di-da London Film Festival airing, with their very own doc, Hello Quo, enjoying a brief cinema release before coming out on DVD.

While Quo might not have the cachet of the Stones, they do have a definite niche. Welcome to The World's Least Pretentious Rock Band. Alan G Parker's thorough if overlong overview is the perfect meeting of form and content. Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt and chums have made some fantastic hard-rocking records that on hearing them chugging away again here genuinely stand the test of time, but they have never pushed the creative envelope and neither does this workmanlike film. Even the captions seem to be displayed in the simplest of typefaces. Three-chord fonts, if you like.

It helps, of course, that Parfitt and Rossi are gold-medal raconteurs

But like any group that has been around for half a century, there are plenty of rib-tickling tales and the odd touching titbit to keep one watching. The band were always boogie men at heart but their breakthrough 1967 single, the wonderfully trippy “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, got them accidentally lumped in with psychedelia and they were promptly dragged down to the King's Road to get the correct threads. Hangdog drummer John Coghlan recalls having to wear a horrid red cape (Coghlan's cape pictured below) which, to his delight, caught fire with him in it and had to be discarded – just one of the many moments where the anecdotes sail perilously close to Spinal Tap terrain.

As well as interviews with Rossi and Parfitt, Alan G Parker (not the Bugsy Malone director) has gathered contributions from other then-and-now band members, making the result fairly definitive. As well as Coghlan there is original bassist Alan Lancaster (not sure if his shiny teeth are original though) and some unexpected big guns. Paul Weller sings the praises of the band's Sixties wardrobe, Brian May recalls Live Aid, while various Top of the Pops veterans from Slade and Sweet sporting dubious hair recall swigging drinks with Quo.

It helps, of course, that Parfitt – filmed next to obligatory pool – and Rossi – filmed next to mandatory mixing desk – are gold-medal raconteurs. They must be great fun down the pub, though one wonders if after a while they might start repeating the same stories, such as that time Lancaster allegedly decked three Aussie coppers and landed them all in jail, or that time they projected porn movies onto the wall of a building opposite their hotel and watched that instead of paying attention to a demanding groupie.

As for the inevitable drugs hell, Quo were more of a beer band, but even they succumbed to the coke blizzards that were flying around. They made pots of money, and the film suggests much of it went up their nostrils. They could, however, have made even more cash. During their imperial Seventies phase when the hits kept rolling – "Down Down", "Caroline", “Roll Over Lay Down” – Levi's featured them extensively in their adverts for, according to this doc, not much more than free denim for their promotional efforts. Imagine that happening now.

Come the Eighties and Nineties (pictured left, Eighties Quo), the story becomes less fascinating as the band approach National Treasure status while having a strop with Radio 1 for not playing their singles. The personnel changed, but Quo continued to tour, keeping in the public eye more through PR stunts – playing on the Ark Royal, doing a tour of pubs, doing four gigs in 12 hours – than through chart-toppers. Nice to see a pie-eyed Parfitt tumbling into the drums while doing "Marguerita Time" on Top of the Pops, though.

Despite the line-up upheavals, Quo celebrate their golden anniversary with no dramatic rock-related tragedies. Parfitt had a quadruple bypass and Rossi had his ponytail amputated, but that’s about it. The film concludes on a genuinely unexpected note. No, not the announcement that they are about to make a jazz fusion album, but a sentimental reunion of the seminal Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster, Coghlan line-up, who immediately have the old chemistry. You can take the mickey out of Quo, but you can’t take the boogie out of them.

  • Hello Quo is screened on 22 October and available on DVD from 29 October

Follow Bruce Dessau on Twitter

Like any group that has been around for half a century, there are plenty of rib-tickling tales to keep one watching

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Comments

What is this ? Who is this ? The man who wrote this should be punished ..... If you don't like it, don't listen or watch my heroes !!

what a pompus individual you are ! Bring on the QUO ..

It was Austrian coppers, not Aussie ones- get yer facts right, or listen more to Parfitt & Rossi next time you're down the pub! ;)

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