In 1980, Suzi Quatro bit the bullet and returned to rock form after a two album country pop adventure, aimed at cracking her home US market which had always eluded her. With `Rock Hard', the Queen of Rock and Roll clearly decided she should reclaim her crown. With Mike Chapman again at the helm, this album delivers guitar and attitude-heavy rock with big backing vocals, a whiff of new wave and the chilliness of 80s production.
This superb Cherry Red remaster replaces the thinness of the badly packaged 90s Polydor re-issue with a beautiful depth, fattening the sound, emphasizing the rhythm section - particularly the bass and cymbals - delivering, in the process, a slick rock-pop onslaught the way this album (and Mike Chapman's excellent production) should be heard. It is about time. The original cover art, issued on CD for the first time, singles cover art and essay are an excellent bonus.
Things kick off with the title track and single, a simple, straight-forward rocker that signalled the Quatro of old was back, complete with don't-mess-with-me attitude and full throated scream. The energy and attack continues into track 2 with `Glad All Over'- albeit a boring choice of cover - and extends pretty much straight through the 11 songs of the set.
Quatro and then husband guitarist, Len Tuckey, flexed their writing muscles on five eclectic songs, all of which are not only among the best on the album, but among the best of their partnership. `State of Mind' is a glorious stop-start hard rocker that sees Quatro delivering some of her sexiest vocals. `Woman Cry' is a soulful slower piece with thunderous drums and spartan musical accompaniment. `Ego in the Night' and `Lay Me Down' are fine, fast-paced pieces of pop rock. And `Lonely is the Hardest' is the record's emotional centrepiece, a moody ballad about the isolation of life on the road.
The Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn-penned `Rock Hard' and `Lipstick', both singles, are strong, with the spoken versed latter the better of the two. Two of the remaining three tracks, by another composing team, are slightly weaker, falling on the poppier side of things. But `Hard Headed' is definietly a snearingly polished and infectious high point in the set.
This album should have been a fine come-back for Quatro back in 1980. Its quality, sound and energy make it appear like the 80s would have been looking bright for her. But, for some weird reason, the only place it sold well was Australia (as well as South Africa and Norway, according to this re-issue's liner notes). Thus, it effectively spelled the end of her original recording career and stardom. That aside, it is a fine example of late 70s/ early 80s pop rock and an absolute must for anyone with even a passing interest in Suzi Quatro.