Francis Rossi - 'One Step At A Time' Hot

Added by James Gaden     May 08, 2010    
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New solo album from the Status Quo frontman.

Everybody knows who Francis Rossi is, and I'm pretty sure every rock fan likes Status Quo to some degree. They may not be fashionable, but they know how to write a good boogie rock song, they're an institution and one of their gigs is always a great night out. They've been fronted by Francis on guitar and vocals for the best part of forty years, but now he's decided to unleash a solo album. His reasons for doing so are explored in my interview with him in this issue, but let's deal with the music itself here.
Francis did release a solo album back in the '90's called 'King Of The Doghouse' but the bulk of that was penned by outside writers with Francis only contributing to a smattering of tracks. This is a much more honest representation of a solo album, with all the tracks here bearing the Rossi name, most written with long time collaborator Bob Young, and a couple written with Guy Johnson.
The album will divide Quo fans, I have no doubt about that. Those who are all about tracks like 'Forty Five Hundred Times' and haven't liked anything the Quo have knocked out since Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan were in the band will find nothing on here of interest. Those who had no problem with Quo's transition to mainstream with things like 'Burning Bridges', 'In The Army Now' and 'Marguerita Time', a song Francis was pushing to do, will probably quite enjoy it. I count myself as someone who likes most Quo stuff and I'm a bit more open minded - I love the Quo classics, I love the recent Quo output, and I really enjoyed 'Thirsty Work'. That album divided a lot of fans, some loving it, some thinking it was too pop infused and not rocky enough, and that's where 'One Step At A Time' fits. 'Thirsty Work' was very much a Francis record with Rick Parfitt not contributing to the writing credits at all, and 'One Step At A Time' sounds to me like it could be a sister album to 'Thirsty Work'.

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'Sleeping On The Job' which opens the album backs my case - it's upbeat and very Quo-eqsue, but Francis has used female backing singers on the very catchy chorus, which as you'll see in the interview, he acknowledges as something not popular when tried with Quo. 'Tallulah's Waiting' and Crazy For You' have Rossi hallmarks all over them, both of them catchy, light, pleasant, well crafted songs. 'Faded Memory' is another more relaxed tune with a great chorus that finds you humming it subconciously. It's not all relaxed though - 'Strike Like Lightning' is a more straight ahead riff based rocker, and we even have some Quo thrown in - a "cheeky" (as Francis called it) re-working of 'Caroline', played in the style it was originally written.
Francis will be touring to promote the album, playing six small venue dates with an eight piece band. I think it'll be a great show but I'm quite happy with women backing singers and more pop sensibilities in the songs. On the subject of pop, some versions of the album will have a cover of 'I Can See Clearly Now' as a bonus track, which Francis originally cut for a British film, but was never used.
I really like this record, much more than 'King Of The Doghouse' and it's a lovely album to play if was want something cheery and catchy but not too in your face. Like I said, if you've not really found anything since Quo put out the '12 Gold Bars' compilation to your taste, there's nothing much on here you're going to connect with. But if you're quite happy with Quo's transition to mainstream in the 80's, or you like 'Thirsty Work' and their more pop orientated stuff, I'd certainly recommend this.
James Gaden
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