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Quo announce themselves as craftsmen
on 7 December 2005
There is no one undisputed "best" Quo album, but "Hello!" is certainly a contender among long-time fans. Their second classic album for Vertigo, it's more sophisticated than its predecessor, "Piledriver", though of course I mean "sophisticated" in a relative way. Those who complain of Francis Rossi's penchant for lightweight pop in later years might be surprised to discover that he was writing melodic songs for this 1973 release. There were two major differences back then however. One was that Quo presented themselves as a scruffy, hard-driving band. This may be a more clinically-produced effort than "Piledriver" but there is no gloss. Keyboards, when added, are kept firmly in the background. Secondly, Rossi as a vocalist keeps his personality in reserve. These were the days when Quo were young and intense, too into their music to be showbiz stars.
As for the music, both sides of the LP began with songs that have become standards, "Roll Over Lay Down" and "Caroline". These songs have been belted out by many a pub band. "Claudie", "And It's Better Now", "Reason For Living" and "Blue-Eyed Lady" are all distinct, melodic songs worthy of supporting the main attractions. "Softer Ride" is more unusual, with its slow, almost moronic "I ain't gonna work" opening. The moment Quo move to a higher gear on this song is exhilarating. The original album closed with "Forty-Five Hundred Times", at around ten minutes Quo's longest studio track. This song has since taken on a life of its own, having been also worked up into its longer live concert form on the "Rock 'Til You Drop"
album. The quiet opening, led by Rick Parfitt, always creates a sense of expectation and when the rest of the band come in that expectation is totally fulfilled.
Many fans prefer the flawed intensity of "Piledriver", but "Hello!" is probably Quo's most consistent album, a true 1970s classic.