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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Suzi Quatro

Back to the Spotlight

Review by Gary Hill

This new double CD features two albums from rocker Suzi Quatro. The first one came out in 2006, and was regarded as her comeback album. That disc was produced by none other than Andy Scott of Sweet. That might have a lot to do with the fact that some of the album makes me think of his band. The second disc here was released in 2011. As good as that first one was, I think the second is the stronger set. They both have a lot of magic to them, though. This set is packaged in a digipack with a cool booklet. That booklet has the liner notes from each album, but each set is printed upside down from the other. All in all, this is quite a cool release.

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Track by Track Review
Back To The Drive
Back To The Drive

Some sound like a scratchy record starts this. Then ambient weirdness is heard before Quatro says "I'm back," and the song launches out with a glam rock meets punk vibe. This is all class.

15 Minutes Of Fame
This has a cool pop rock groove to it. I dig the keyboard sound on this, but the vocal hooks on the chorus are really what makes this work so well. It's a fun romp. This is anthemic and has some definite Celtic angles to it.
There is even more Celtic sound on this number. There is also a real psychedelic edge to it. It's a fun cut . My only complaint is that some of the vocals feel over-processed. Still, this rocking romp works well.
I Don’t Do Gentle
A classy old school rock and roll sound is all over this. It has a real 50s vibe. The horns and backing vocals add to that image. This is energetic and so classy. Some honky-tonk piano adds to the magic.
I’ll Walk Through The Fire With You
I dig the classic pop rock sound of this cut a lot. It has a lot of style and charm. There are some parts of this that call to mind ELO to some degree.
Wasted Moments
This comes in with a more driving hard rock sound with a stripped back arrangement. The cut works out to a rocker that has more of those ELO hints, but also a healthy helping of Sweet. This is one of the highlights of the first CD. The keyboard break on this brings some classy almost prog rock angles. That angle becomes even more pronounced on the growing section that comes in to serve as the outro.
Rockin’ In The Free World
Quatro covers Neil Young here. She puts in a smoking hot hard rocking version of the tune.
No Choice
More of a melodic rock groove brings this song into being. It drops to a balladic approach for the entrance of the vocals. This gets driving and really rocking as it continues.
Sometimes Love Is Letting Go
A piano based ballad mode starts this track. It eventually works to a powered up and rocking version of itself.
Dancing In The Wind
The guitar that brings this in establishes a rocking sound. The vocals come in over the top of this stripped back arrangement. It grows out from there with a lot of style and oomph. There are some killer vocal hooks, and a saxophone solo is a nice touch. There are also some doo wop vocals later. I'm not really a fan of those, but the song is strong despite them.
Free The Butterfly
More of a ballad, this has an adult contemporary vibe to it. There is some real emotion delivered with the vocal performance. Saxophone feels right at home on this number.
Born Making Noise
This is much more of a raw bluesy rocker. It's a real stomper.

Here we get a cover of the Eagles song. It's largely piano and vocals, but some guitar dances around it. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Jeff Beck provides that guitar.

No Choice (Demo)
I think I prefer this version of the song. It just seems more organic.
Free The Butterfly (Demo)
Again, the demo (and it really doesn't sound like a demo, but perhaps a less final)  arrangement seems to serve this tune well. I think I prefer this to the other version.
Dancing In The Wind (Demo)
While I think I like the final version of this more, this does a great job. The rocking sound works well.
In The Spotlight
A Girl Like Me

A driving hard rocker, this is all class. In fact, it might be my favorite song of the whole set. It has a punky energy, some great hooks and so much style and charm.

Whatever Love Is
This is another cool rock tune. It's more melodic and less direct than the opener was, but it's still very strong.
There is more of an almost symphonic arrangement to this. It brings hints of prog rock to the overall mainstream rock vibe. There are some classic soul music elements here, too. This is a great song. In fact, it's another standout for me on this set.
Strict Machine
Another killer hard rocker, this is great stuff. Somehow I hear this as a blend of Alice Cooper, Sweet and Tommy James, of course, with that Suzi Quatro magic in the mix. It's another highlight.
Breaking Dishes
I love the bouncing rocking groove on this thing. It's another standout. The chorus hook is meaty and mean.
Rosie Rose
Percussion brings this tune in with style. It's another classy rocker. I love the section where it drops to just the rhythm section and vocals. This thing is fun, catchy and so classy.
Hurt With You
The horn section lends something different to this cut. The number has a bit more of a pop rock vibe. There are some Beatles-esque elements along with some reggae here. While I like this, it's not as strong as the other tunes we've heard on this second CD. That said, the vocal arrangement has some real magic built into it.
Hot Kiss
A fierce hard rocker, this is more like it. It still has some great hooks. The guitar has some meaty fills, too.
Turn Into
An acoustic guitar based rock sound brings this number into being. The vocals that come across the top are so strong. There is an alternative rock edge to this along with some 50s rock things. It gets more rocking as it continues.
Hard Headed Woman
Now this old-time rock and roller feels like Suzi Quatro does Elvis Presley. It is brings some variety and is fun, but it's not as much my kind of thing as a lot of the rest here. The guitar solo is on fire with a retro concept, though. The same can be said of the piano solo.
Singing With Angels
This tune has a balladic vibe with some interesting backing vocals. It's a tribute to Elvis. I like it, but it's not really my kind of thing. The tune features Elvis' backing singers The Jordanaires.
Does Your Mother Know

The bonus track on this disc is a cover of an ABBA tune. The guitar on this at times makes me think of Boston. The number has more of a Sweet kind of vibe, though. Of course, that makes sense since Andy Scott produced this song, too. It's another classy rocker.


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