The influence of Status Quo on US underground rock circles isn’t widely acknowledged. But Mark Lanegan once admitted to MOJO he’d ripped off Pictures Of Matchstick Men more often than he dared admit. And now Rocket From The Crypt have chosen a Quo deep cut as part of their comeback campaign. Touring the UK and Ireland this week, seven years after their split, and over a decade since the band’s last set of new recordings, the San Diego sextet have come up with a typically unorthodox treat for fans. For each date of the tour there’s a limited edition one-sided 7-inch single featuring RFTC covering a song by an esteemed artist synonymous with the specific town they’re playing.
Thus, Manchester got Buzzcocks’ Love Is Lies; Newcastle got Venom’s In League With Satan; Glasgow got Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street; Leeds got Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s Spinning Round. For Dublin it’s going to be Boomtown Rats’ My Blues Away. London, meanwhile, will be treated to Shy Fly, a track from Status Quo’s third album Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon, the record which saw Rossi, Parfitt et al break free from their commercially expedient pop-psychedelic sound and head towards the motorik boogie that would propel them to rock stardom.
All are apt and interesting choices, none more so than Shy Fly, which in its original incarnation is rife with primitive proto-new wave urgency, driven by Francis Rossi’s manic downstroke guitaring, a style subsequently adopted to intense degree by Rocket leader Speedo’s other bands Hot Snakes and The Night Marchers. The lyric’s use of animal metaphor doubtless also appealed to RFTC, whose penchant for faunaphilia was a constant feature of their 10-year recorded oeuvre, as demonstrated by such songs as Feathered Friends, Venom Venom, Heart Of A Rat, Ghost Shark and, most memorably, Dick On A Dog.
This steaming new version of Shy Fly is faithful to the original but beefed up by the quintessential Rocket From The Crypt rhythm’n’horn section wall of sound, plus some yammering pub pianner that’s straight outta Catford. The Quo would approve – and so do we.