20 October 2014 (released)
26 October 2014
Ho ho! The title of the album, although clumsy, is nice touch and goes some way towards setting the scene for this album from Status Quo. They are in a playful mood, as one can tell from the cover, and these stripped back versions of fan and band favourites throw the band into a different light.
Stripped Bare is a fair description but don’t expect just basic acoustic, two-men-on-stools-strumming-away, versions of these songs. The band have gone back to basics but then layered in strings harmonicas, female backing singers and accordions. The results are never less than interesting, and in one or two cases possibly an improvement.
The classics and hits are all here so why not start with those. Caroline takes on a barroom boogie, Down Down’s has a more honky-tonk feel, Rockin’ All Over The World with the accordion has hurdy-gurdy carnival appeal, Whatever You Want, with strings, is a blast. Marguerita Time, stripped of the trimmings, is almost palatable. Again and Again is transformed into a pure ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ song, one for the boppers.
Of the more obscure songs, All The Reasons actually sounds more robust with added strings. Rain retains its heavy blues and takes on added dynamic with the inclusion of the aforementioned singers.
This format also brings to the fore the lead vocals, which maybe they don’t get enough credit for. Francis Rossi’s usual almost casual voice sounds stronger on this album in particular on Rock ‘n’ Roll, which has an oddly Eleanor Rigby melancholia about it, and possibly better than the original.
Status Quo have lasted 50 years, had massive success – without ever being that fashionable - been through some turbulent times, and written some of the most recognisable and popular songs, ever. So what is this album about: They have nothing to prove to anyone on any level? Others can debate that, but this album doesn’t sound like a bored band just messing around resting on its laurels, it sounds like a band that still has plenty of ideas left.