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Hello Quo! review


Here we Quo again - a review of the Status Quo documentary release, Hello Quo!...

Review: Hello Quo!

My dad would love this film. He raised me on a diet of Status Quo, Queen and Gloria Estefan (no really), so this documentary was practically made for him. Naturally, if you’re a fellow Quo fan you’ll love it too.

But what if you’re not? What if you don’t miss long hair, making denim look good, and Brian May talking music instead of badger culls? In short, what if you’re a young person – are the life, times and reunion of this supposedly seminal band really for you?

For legal reasons: absolutely. How else would you discover that Status Quo once sued the BBC after Radio One quit playing their records on the grounds they were “too old”?

In all seriousness, it’s anecdotes like that which make Hello Quo! a treat for anybody. The rags to riches tale – following the band from grimy East End garages to recording the most chart hits (60) in the UK, via three chords and cocaine habits – is as compelling for the uninitiated as it is for die-hard fans. Arguably, it’s more so, as the latter will likely know the history of drug busts and bust-ups, while the rest of us can savour the shock of the new.

Regardless, you’ll certainly know the songs. “Whatever You Want” and “Down Down” are the go-to songs for Mad Men looking to soundtrack a sale at your local sofa or electronics emporium. And, if for no other reason, Quo are guaranteed musical immortality by virtue of opening Live Aid. “Rocking All Over The World” defines that day in ‘85 just as much as Radio Gaga and “give us your feckin’ money” (and unlike the latter, it actually happened). While nobody would give these tunes prizes for innovation or sophistication – including the band themselves – they are undeniably catchy, and I defy you to sit through the film without tapping your foot.

It’s mandatory with any music documentary to mention This is Spinal Tap, of course, and here it’s all the more pertinent because that comedy classic so obviously riffs on elements of Quo. Rick Parfitt, sitting tanned and open-shirted by his personal pool in the States, is a lighter-rock mirror image of Michael McKean. Still, it’s a credit to Quo that we’re more often laughing with them than at them here. That said, Parfitt’s entertainment beginnings – gigging with identical twin sisters at Butlins – would probably have been rejected from a parody for being too ridiculous.

Maybe it’s their age, with the band now in their 60s, but mostly they’re glancing back with a knowingly wry attitude rather than displeasing pomp. Founding member Francis Rossi has a particularly nice line in self-deprecation. He reveals that the band’s very name was contrived off-the-cuff, having been preceded by such gems as “Traffic Jam” (geddit?), and most of the protagonists, having no idea what it meant, believed it wouldn’t last a week. Elsewhere, he confesses not knowing the exact lyrics to a song, and only upon later inspection realising it had a masturbation subtext.

Directed by Emmy Award nominee Alan G. Parker (the man behind the brilliant Monty Python: Almost the Truth), it’s understandably put together with care and competence. Parker knows his subject matter and coaxes great tidbits from even the most awkward of characters; most notably drummer John Coghlan, who unfortunately balances being arguably the most technically gifted musician of the lot with being the dourest individual.

However, competence is all it ever achieves. It’s a standard documentary recipe of archive footage, zooming in and out on stills, and an endless stream of talking heads. The only moments where the film attempts something more, during the animated title sequences that accompany key album releases, it looks decidedly cheap. Thankfully, the talking heads are a varied and mostly impressive bunch, ranging from the eloquent Paul Weller to a close-to-dead-looking Jim Davidson (the “comedian” barely seen since presenting Big Break in the 90s).

It was in cinemas for one night only on 22 October, before release on DVD today. It’s a film that neither demands a big screen experience nor repeat viewings. But it’s just fine for a standalone evening at home. Invite your dad.

3 stars


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