Status Quo – Heavy Traffic (Deluxe Edition, 3CD Set)

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There was always something very unpretentious about Status Quo. From their basic three-chord mastery to their parred-back, double-denim look, you always felt that those wonderful hits like ‘Paper Plane’ and ‘Down Down’ came about by accident, rather than design. However, by the late ‘80s/early ‘90s Quo started to lose their credibility, they deliberately courted the mainstream, and singles like 1990’s ‘Anniversary Waltz’ sailed a little too close to Jive Bunny and their ilk. Half-baked albums such as Don’t Stop didn’t help, and it felt like the band were floundering at the last chance saloon. What they needed at the turn of the millennium was a strong album to please their core fanbase, and when the chips were down, they came up trumps with Heavy Traffic. Still sounding fresh and exciting after two decades, Heavy Traffic gets the deluxe treatment it deserves, and is bolstered by plenty of bonus tracks and a live set, along with an expanded booklet featuring new interviews.

Disc One: Heavy Traffic

Like the Quo of old, Heavy Traffic gets off to a raucous start with the addictive start with ‘Blues & Rhythm’. Heavy on the harmonica, and with a riff that could snare a man at 50 feet, this is just want you want from a Quo album, and comes powered by plenty of vim and vigour. Proving that was no fluke, ‘All Stand Up (Never Say Never)’ follows, and was a song that transferred well to the live environment (always the Litmus Test for a Quo song) and set the bar high for the rest of the record. There’s a sense of fun permeating this record (something that was missing from the last few albums) and you can hear a joie de vivre seeping through every note, and tracks such as ‘The Oriental’ and ‘Creepin’ Up On You’ positively fizz and sparkle.

Francis Rossi credited the “rebirth” of Quo to his reunion with writing partner (and unofficial fifth member) Bob Young, and Bob’s contribution has brought a swing and a boogie to the fore that hasn’t been heard since the early ‘70s. But, whatever the reason, the band have got their swagger back, and there’s not one duff track contained amongst the 14. What is really surprising is that only two songs were culled for singles because you get the feeling that any of these numbers could have barged their way into the Top 40. From the excitable ‘Blues & Rhythm’ to moody closer ‘Rhythm Of Life’, Heavy Traffic encapsulated all what made Status Quo great, and marked a welcome return to form.

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks / Live At Heitere Festival (Pt 1)

You can always judge the quality of an album by the tracks which made up the B-Sides of contemporary singles, and two of those flip sides open the second disc, and they reflect very well on Heavy Traffic. ‘The Madness’ is an all-out-rocker that was coupled with ‘Jam Side Down’, whilst the bluesy ‘You Let Me Down’ was the companion to ‘All Stand Up’, and each song would have slotted well onto Heavy Traffic. Three demo tracks from 2001 are included, two of which (‘All Stand Up’ and ‘Solid Gold’) would end up on Heavy Traffic, while ‘Let’s Start Again’ didn’t make the cut for some reason, and for why, it is difficult to ascertain, because it contains all the essential ingredients, but it is further evidence of the rich seam the band were mining.

The rest of this disc is made up of live tracks from a blistering set at Switzerland’s Heitere Festival. It’s a wart-n-all performance with no “cleaning up” involved with Francis’ vocals dropping out during opener ‘Caroline’, but once the sound guy gets his act together, the Quo get their collective head down to do what they do best with ‘The Wanderer’, Something ‘Bout You Baby’ and ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ fired off like bullets from a pump-action assault rifle. The four tracks from Heavy Traffic go down particularly well, especially ‘All Stand Up’ (just as I predicted).

Disc Three: Live At Heitere Festival (Pt 2)

Recorded on Sunday 10th August 2003, Status Quo were on a diverse bill that included beatboxers Bauchklang, and reggae band Seeed but it was Quo who stole the show, and how could they not with ‘Big Fat Mama’, ‘Down Down’, and ‘Whatever You Want’ in their arsenal. A melody of three Chuck Berry classics make for a fitting conclusion; ‘Rock And Roll Music’, ‘Carol’ and ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ bring down the curtain in style. One of the most important albums in the Quo discography, Heavy Traffic gets the loving deluxe edition treatment, and there’s been no better reason to rediscover this gem.

  • Reviewed by Peter Dennis.
  • Heavy Traffic is released via UMC on 30th September 2022 and is available here.
  • Official Website

Track List:

Disc One: Heavy Traffic

  1. Blues & Rhythm
  2. All Stand Up (Never Say Never)
  3. The Oriental
  4. Creepin’ Up On You
  5. Heavy Traffic
  6. Solid Gold
  7. Green
  8. Jam Side Down
  9. Diggin’ Burt Bacharach
  10. Do It Again
  11. Another Day
  12. I Don’t Remember Anymore
  13. Money Don’t Matter
  14. Rhythm Of Life

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks / Live At Heitere Festival (Pt 1)

  1. The Madness (B-Side Of ‘Jam Side Down’)
  2. You Let Me Down (B-Side Of ‘All Stand Up’)
  3. Let’s Start Again (Demo, 2001)
  4. All stand Up (Demo, 2001)
  5. Solid Gold (Demo, 2001)
  6. Caroline *
  7. The Wanderer *
  8. Something ‘Bout You Baby *
  9. Don’t Waste My Time *
  10. Forty-Five Hundred Times *
  11. Rain *
  12. All Stand Up (Never Say Never) *
  13. Solid Gold *
  14. Heavy Traffic *
  15. Creepin’ Up On You *

* Live At Heitere Festival

Disc Three: Live At Heitere Festival (Pt 2)

  1. Mystery Medley: Mystery Song/Railroad/Most Of The Time/Wild Side Of Life/Rollin’ Home/Again And Again/Slow Train
  2. Gerdundula
  3. Big Fat Mama
  4. Roll Over Lay Down
  5. Down Down
  6. Whatever You Want
  7. Rockin’ All Over The World
  8. Junior’s Wailing
  9. Encore Medley: Rock And Roll Music/Carol/Bye Bye Johnny

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