Wednesday, 26 October 2016

"Dog Of Two Head" by STATUS QUO (2003 Sanctuary/Castle Music 'Expanded Edition' CD - Sean Magee Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Something's Going On..." 

If 1970's "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" started the Status Quo Boogie Blitz of the Seventies rolling - November 1971's "Dog Of Two Head" is where 'From The Makers Of' began to win real legions of devoted fans.

Their last studio effort for Pye Records (the label would issue a cash-in 'Best Of' in 1973) - the quirkily named "Dog Of Two Head" album is a good old Rock record and a hair's breath away from the sheer head's down riffage of "Piledriver" in late 1972 (their first LP for England's Vertigo Records). In fact re-listening to it in 2016 and I'm brought back to zits, jeans and throwing embarrassing shapes with tennis racquets in the front room of my Dublin home as my poor parents looked on in their Black and White Minstrel Show amazement (and moral despair). I'd also forgotten how good it is (even the three "Nanana" extracts). Here are the Mean Girls, Gerdundula's and Railroads...

UK released February 2003 (reissued August 2013) - "Dog Of Two Head" by STATUS QUO on Sanctuary/Castle Music CMQCD 755 (Barcode 5050159175529) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with five Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (56:13 minutes):

1. Umleitung
2. Nanana (Extraction)
3. Something's Going On In My Mind
4. Mean Girl
5. Nanana (Extraction)
6. Gerdundula [Side 2]
7. Railroad
8. Someone's Learning
9. Nanana
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 4th studio album "Dog Of Two Head" - released 5 November 1971 in the UK on Pye Records NSPL 18371 and Pye Records PYE 3301 in the USA. It didn't chart in either country.

10. Mean Girl (Early Rough/Alternate Mix)
11. Tune To The Music (7" Single) - 18 June 1971 UK 7" single on Pye Records 7N 45077, A - Non-album track
12. Good Thinking (7" single) - 18 June 1971 UK 7" single on Pye Records 7N 45077, B-side to "Tune To The Music" - Non-album track
BBC Session for the John Peel Show 3 March 1972
13. Mean Girl
14. Railroad

The 8-squares-per-side foldout inlay is a feast of fan memorabilia that is itself bolstered up by superlative and seriously detailed liner notes from DAVE OXLEY. Chief-mover and idea's man on the reissue was JOHN REED who has been behind so many great reissues and is a compiler fans trust and admire. SEAN MAGEE at Masterpiece did the superbly muscular Remasters and there's a special thanks to LIAM MOORE at the BBC for the Sessions. There are repro's of pictures sleeves for singles I've never seen - a Euro version of "Railroad" cut into a Part 1 and 2 - "Tune To The Music" with the boys at astride a car and a fab live shot of the boys 'heads down' on stage for "Mean Girl". In-between those are press adverts and uber-rare gig posters with them and Nazareth. It's beautifully done...

As with the "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" LP in 1970 – the numbskulls at Pye didn't prep the new and far better November 1971 album with any singles that would tempt and despite initial good sales - "Dog Of Two Head" failed to chart on either side of the pond. But as with Kelly’s it did increase a growing legion of fans both in Blighty and in Europe (especially Germany).

It's amazing even now to think that an obvious winner like "Something's Going on In My Head" with its hugely catchy guitar chords wasn't considered as a 45 (it would take Pye until 1973 to release "Mean Girl" as a single and that was only to promote their sour-grapes LP 'The Best Of'). They tried the stand-alone Rock/Bopper "Tune To The Music" as a Pye single in June 1971 and backed it with the cool Bluesy instrumental "Good Thinking" (both non-album at the time) - but it tanked and has proved a 45 rarity ever since. Even an edit of the seven-minute Boogie fest that is the LP opener "Umleitung" (German for diversion) would surely have elicited interest in the album - but wicked LP artwork in a gatefold sleeve or no - the album failed to sell.

"Nanana" turns up three times on the LP across two sides - the first two stabs are short acoustic/piano 'Extractions' that last less than a minute - until the final version simply called "Nanana" ends the album on Side 2 as a 2:25 minute full song. In a strange way the snippets make for brilliant interludes between the rockers like the brilliant "Someone's Learning" - apparently a comment on the Northern Ireland war raging in the six counties at the time. The other huge tune for Quo nuts is "Railroad" - a five and half-minute rocker with a catchy-as-a-cold hook that just won't quit.

I can't quite make up my mind as to which take of "Gerdundula" I like the most - the original October 1970 more acoustic-based 7" single mix (a Bonus Track on the "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" CD reissue that also came out in February 2003 also on Castle Music) or the re-recorded more filled-out album version presented here? July 1973 would see the 'Dog' version from 1971 belatedly released as a 45 on Pye 7N 45229 with "Lakky Lady" from 'Kelly's' on the B-side. Whichever take - the nonsensically-titled "Gerdundula" is a total winner - a clever and endlessly cool little Quo tune...

"Dog Of Two Head" is a great Seventies Rock album and this CD Reissue does it proud. The 'Quo' folks - would we have them any other way...

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