These two albums were released in the late 70s when Quatro was dabbling in a softer image. Though she was probably having to tackle the fact that punk had taken over the rock market in Europe, it would seem she was mainly trying to tackle the US charts, which were more interested in middle-of-the-road rock like Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles, than her boisterous approach. It didn't work for her and these albums are weaker for it.
For 'If You Knew Suzi
', her fourth album, she underwent an almost complete image make-over from leather-clad hard rocker to vulnerable country pop balladeer. It is an "almost" makeover because she still has a stab at a few rock tracks, though they are mostly on the pedestrian side.
The first single and biggest hit, `If You Can't Give Me Love', is slick, accomplished and catchy. Along with the opener, `Don't Change My Luck', and `The Race is On', they account for the by now ubiquitous Mike Chapman/ Nicky Chinn compositions (and the singles). They also account for producer, Mike Chapman's approach to the sound, which works well for the new softer approach, but mostly sees attempts to rock hard wind up as flat and unconvincing.
Quatro and husband, Len Tuckey, are once again limited to too few compositions, even though they include two of the best songs in the set (the socially conscious, 'Suicide' and tender 'Wiser than You'). Like `Quatro
' and `Aggro-Phobia
' before it, there are again too many covers.
This is certainly not essential, but it contains a few first rate songs worth owning.
The following year, on 1979's `Suzi & Other Four Letter Words
', Quatro's foray away from hard rock continued in a brasher, more energetic follow-up to the softer, image-changing 1978 album. It also boasts a far more eclectic track list. Quatro tries everything from hard rock and country to 50s-styled pop and some rather classy disco overtones - with varying levels of success. While its production and strengths are greater, its weaknesses are not dissimilar to the previous album.
Chapman's production is fine, as always, capturing an excellent thumping drum sound throughout, effecting background vocals and some atmospheric keyboards (though an over-reliance on piano dangerously risks making the whole exercise sound hokey). There are only three tracks that qualify as rock.
Highlights are Quatro/Tuckey's rocker, 'Mind Demons' and the dirgy, dancy 'Space Cadets', as well as the Jack Lee penned (Blondie's 'Hanging on the Telephone) 'You Are My Lover'. The absence of covers in truly refreshing, as is the heavy presence of Quatro's own writing. Nevertheless, it is hard to shake the fact that this woman should be rocking and that `Four Letter Words' is still well below her best.