I have been listening a fair bit to the new album Inventions from the ultra cool Nashville psych band The Sufis and been scratching my head to work out what their key influences are. Sure there’s plenty of Revolver era Beatles, and they have obviously mastered all the key elements of the Syd Barrett songbook. There’s also a whiff of The Kinks, The Pretty Things and 80s psych popsters like The Three O’Clock.
And then it suddenly struck me – they have clearly been listening to the first two Status Quo albums. In fact there’s a fair bit of new music around at the moment that owes quite a lot to the Quo. Not so much to their later 70s and 80s stuff where the band became a parody of themselves/the only rock and roll band worthy of that moniker depending on your point of view. But their 60s psych recordings.
But back to The Sufis, and also it should be said Paperhead, The Dolly Rocker Movement, Temples, Beaulieu Porch and Jacco Gardner. I’d been astonished if they weren’t on nodding terms with the first two Quo albums – Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo and Spare Parts.
Both are massively under rated British psych pop albums – out in the cold because of what the band went on to become, yet both of the long players are packed with some wonderful melodies taken to the edge by some very groovy psych trappings.
The track that totally does it for me is Mr Mind Detector from Spare Parts. I had this on a compilation cassette once and didn’t know who it was by. I listened to the slow chugging guitar build up, droney verse and clever use of brass and its assumed its was a one-off single taken from an obscure British Psych compilation. It is the Quo, and if you have only ever heard the boogie stuff it will be revelation. Much of Spare Parts is almost as good. It is heavily orchestrated, phased psychedelia but with striking Macca-esque melodies. What is not to like?
If anything the tracks on the first albums are even closer to what is happening now. Elisabeth Dreams, Sunny Cellophane skies and When My Mind Is Not Live are just as trippy as their titles suggest and fit seamlessly next to anything from The Sufis. And that’s without a nod to their two hits from the era – Pictures Of Matchstick Men and Ice In The Sun.
By the time the third album arrived – Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon in 1970, the Quo had ditched the psych and gone for an anglicised version of Creedence/Canned Heat’s back to basics boogie. Yet it is still a highly under rated album. Down The Dustpipe which heralds from the same era is a guilty pleasure of mine and is just ripe for someone to cover.
Btw I think is was probably The Quo who provided the inspiration for Spinal Tap’s Flower Children. Camply dressed psych pop band who went all rawk – it has to be them.
Here then are The Quo and The Sufis and The Tap – now that would be one amazing gig! Spotify has all the band’s psych recordings – embedded below.