Reviews roundup – Status Quo vs. Soto vs. Jake Chisholm
On The Level / Whatever You Want / If You Can’t Stand The Heat
Well, with the final full tour lined up for the end of the year, it’s time for the Quo to top up the pension plan with the latest set of deluxed double disc doodahs from the archives. And it’s an odd trio, with one bona fide classic, and two of their mid-period, poppier releases.
“On The Level” from 1975 is, of course, the classic. A number one album with a number one single, it’s been remastered and has a bonus disc of archive recordings as well as a previously unreleased concert from 1975, the year of the album’s release, recorded live in Mainz on 22/02/1975. It’s not the best live recording you’ll hear, but Quo fans will be happy to put their bootleg away, and listen to an official release. It’s also padded out with another copy of the “Live EP” as well as the single edit of ‘Down Down’.
We then jump forward to 1978 and “If You Can’t Stand The Heat”. I’ve always had a soft spot for this, as it was the first Quo album I ever bought (a year later) and I still remember arguing in Ezy Ryder about the sleeve being torn. Ah, the follies of youth. I still like it, mainly because it contains the best ever Quo single in the shape of ‘Again &d Again’, but I could never hold it up as a classic. It saw them branching out into the world of backing brass and female backing singers (including a future member of Bananarama and Stevie Lange, of Limara fame). The bonuses are stretched out a bit with 5 tracks being featured twice in differing demo fashion. You won’t listen to the bonus disc more than once.
Finally, it’s “Whatever You Want” from 1979. The title track is probably one of their most heard, thanks to decades of advertising placements, but it’s a stronger overall set than “If You Can’t Stand The Heat”. We’ll forget about ‘Living On An Island’, a song I still can’t listen to all the way through (and which appears three times on the bonus disc), and concentrate on the CD issue of the US version of this album, which was rejigged and remixed as “Now Hear This”. Finally, I can put the vinyl version in a protective sleeve!
Of the three, I’d go for “Whatever You Want”, if I only had the money for one.
On The Level – Buy At Amazon
If You Can’t Stand The Heat – Buy At Amazon
Whatever You Want – Buy At Amazon
He’s got some pedigree has Jeff Scott Soto, whether it’s with Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Talisman, Journey, solo, W.E.T, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Axel Rudi Pell or the many other acts he’s performed with. But as a jobbing vocalist, it’s been hard for him to pin down his own identity, with solo albums veering from pop to funk to rock. But last year when he put out the first album from Soto the band, he decided to return to metal.
After all, if you get in with the metal crowd, you’ve got a job for life. Loyal, is what they are, and with “Inside The Vertigo” he certainly ramped up the guitars and the attitude. It was a return to his early days, and it obviously went well enough for a rapid fire follow up in the shape of “Divak”.
And it’s more of the same, which makes a pleasant change after his genre hopping, although fans from his more melodic days will look askance at the out and out heavy metal of tracks like ‘Freak Show’, ‘Forgotten’ and ‘SuckerPunch’. If anything, this is even more metal than the first album, with the band seemingly having gelled during their live shows.
Mr Soto himself remains in fine voice, and here’s hoping that “Divak” will make its mark.
No More Sorrow
Finally, for today, it’s off to the Canadian colonies for the second album from Toronto blues artist Jake Chisholm. It follows on from “Diamond In A Coalmine”, which came out back in 2013 and sees him mixing up his blues with some rock and some soul.
He’s quite well known over in the Canadian blues scene having worked with Jake & the Blue Midnights, Paul Reddick, Raoul and the Big Time, and Billy Boy Arnold, amongst others, but if he keeps making records as focused as this, it’s his name that will be the one to watch.
There are plenty of good tunes here, with songs like ‘Just Because You Want To’ and ‘I Want You Just The Way You Are’ showcasing his songwriting as well as his playing ability. With a strong rhytm section in the shape of Chris Banks (bass) and Sly Juhas (drums), “No More Sorrow” makes for an enjoyable listen