This years sees Detroit rocker Suzi Quatro celebrate her 50th anniversary in the music business, having recorded her first record at the age of 14.
To mark this, Cherry Red, who released her last album In the Spotlight in 2011, have released a box set, aptly named The Girl From Detroit City.
The four-disc box set takes the listener throughout Suzi Q’s entire career. It begins with a selection of tracks recorded by her teenage band, The Pleasure Seekers, and her first solo single, Rolling Stone, before entering into more familiar territory of the big hits like Can the Can and Daytona Demon – the tracks that made the leather clad bass player such a stand out in the early 70s, when the rock scene was dominated by men.
The first two CD’s contain all of her most famous songs, as well as B-sides and classic album tracks, personally selected by Suzi. Along with the CDs is a 54-page booklet, containing notes from Suzi about each song, as well as an in-depth biography and rare photographs.
However, the real treasure lies on disc four, which holds material even the most hardcore fans have never heard before. Tracks that were demoed in the early 70s when Quatro first came to the UK are the first songs on this disc, and open the goldmine of unheard music. The demos feature Peter Frampton on guitar and Alan White from Yes on keyboards.
A few tracks in, it moves onto songs that were demoed in the 80s and 90s, but have never been released. Despite the name of the track, a cover of Warm Leatherette, made famous by Grace Jones, does not bode well with the Quatro style. A fantastic version of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood makes up for the aforementioned.
Quatro shows her musical chops as a serious bass player on the track Walking Through the Changes. The bass is often considered the most difficult instrument to sing and play at the same time. But Quatro, once voted the third-greatest bassist in the world, effortlessly masters the singing/playing simultaneously through this demo, which was recorded as a live take. Other Quatro-penned highlights include Wild in the Night and And So To Bed.
A raw cover of The Eagles’ classic Desperado features her old friend Jeff Beck providing a melodic guitar solo over the basic piano ballad.
Two new tracks, The Cost of Living, and the single which the box set is named after, were composed by the very man who took Quatro to the top in the first place by penning her hits – Blondie producer, Mike Chapman. Both tunes follow the ballsy rock formula that she is best known for, but sound incredibly up to date, and show that both Chapman still has his finger on the pulse, and Quatro still has the ability to adapt her style to the current trends, even four decades after her first number one.
A version of ABBA’s Does Your Mother Know, featuring Sweet’s Andy Scott on guitar duties, may not be Quatro’s most inspired choice of cover, but it does show that she can still take someone else’s song and make it her own.
Box sets often have a habit of being a very kitsch affair. Cherry Red and Quatro have worked together to ensure this would not be the case when it came to celebrating the golden anniversary of the woman who made it acceptable for the likes of Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde to rock.