Friday, 19 August 2011

100 LPs Shortlist #15: Suzi Quatro - "Can The Can"

Suzi Quatro - Can the Can

There was a time, during my formative years, where current music of the time was getting quite stale and I needed something more to reflect my teen angst, which I often did through music with fired up distorted guitars. Indeed, as a young guitar player, I consumed a lot of music, eating up as much guitar technique from records as I possibly could.

Come 1990, at the height of the Hair Metal period, with bands like Poison and Motley Crue ruling the music world, I grew quite bored after a while. I still needed to hear something thumping, and I didn't find a lot of it in my parents collection. When my mates and I started looking around our parents' collections, we found a few hidden gems within, largely from the 1970s. Slade, The Sweet, Neil Young, Ziggy-era David Bowie, Deep Purple, Kiss, Alice Cooper and, of course, Suzi Quatro.

The thing that inevitably made these old records interesting to us 1990's teenagers was the fact that they were not mainstream anymore - they weren't on the radio, they weren't showing their videos on the music channels, no hype in the press to taint our view of the music - it was just what was in the grooves of the black scratchy platter that was important.

Suzi Q's first LP is a mind-blowing record, on a number of levels. Firstly, it's a vicious record, brimming with tension and passion. Secondly, the energy is unbridled - the guitars are fired up and the drums don't back down from their fury for the album's entire length. Thirdly, considering this record was sponsored by the bubblegum-pop-hit machine of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn (also behind the careers of The Sweet, Mud and Smokie), it's a wonder a record this wild and unhinged ever escaped from the studio under their watch.

Oddly enough, this album is largely untouched by the influence of the Chinnichap pop factory. The presence of her two big hit singles ("48 Crash" and "Can The Can") aside, the record is full of Suzi-Q originals and a handful of covers given a tough sound. The result is a surprisingly uniformly strong record. It's also unusual in that it's far longer than your average pop album, clocking in at over well 45 minutes (the standard then was around 38).

From start to finish this record is just one hell of a good time. Suzi's bass work is great is right up front in the mix - she even gets a solo on "Get Back Momma", which is one of many highlights here. There's something very sinister buried deep within the rhythmic tribalism of "Primitive Love"; "Glycerine Queen" stomps with the best of the glam tunes of the time; while her version of "I Wanna Be Your Man", incongruous as it may appear, actually rocks with stop-start abandon. It's not the best version of the song ever recorded, but the solo mid-section, in itself, is pure musical madness. Her versions of "Shakin' All Over" (complete with double speed guitar solo) and "All Shook Up" are quite good as well.

For it's age, this album holds up remarkably well. To get it's full value, however, you need to listen it to it LOUD!!!

Note: The Spotify version below is the recent remaster with all the non-LP single B-sides on it.


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