In the age of the single download, Jeff Harford
rediscovers the album.
There was always something dark and dangerous about Suzi
Quatro. Resplendent in biker-chick black leathers, she stood
apart from her sequined glam-rock peers of the '70s, fronting
her boganish all-male backing band with all the
self-possession of an urban warrior queen.
The first female rocker to chart significantly, the
diminutive Quatro wielded a Fender Precision bass that seemed
to dwarf her, adding to the sense that this pocket battleship
could handle herself just fine on a playground usually
reserved for the lads.
Detroit-born Quatro's self-titled 1973 debut long player
followed the chart-topping success of second British single
Can The Can. Paired up with hit-making
songwriting/production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman,
Quatro released a raw and boisterous glam-rock classic that
delivered another Top 10 Chinnichap hit in 48 Crash
among a clutchof originals and carefully chosen covers.
For what is ostensibly a teen-pop record, the album possesses
a tangible air of suppressed malevolence and simmering
sexuality. Partly, that's due to the heavily-gated drums and
thick tones of the guitars, suggesting but not delivering
high volume. Mainly, it's due to repeated lyrical references
to revving engines, buffed chrome, glycerine queens and
skin-tight leather, with Suzi backed by a chorus of oily oiks
who sound like they're jeering from the window of a Mark II
The album's centrepiece best captures this sense of urban
tribalism. The drums of Primitive Love pound from
beginning to end and guitars chug along in support while
Quatro sings of rough-tough love and jungle fever, swapping
her trademark yell for a conspiratorial purr.
Covers of All Shook Up and Shakin' All Over are
unremarkable, but the third is a telling choice. With no sign
of tongue in cheek, Quatro belts out a version of Lennon and
McCartney's I Wanna Be Your Man, spearing the
masculine heart of the British rock scene and opening up a
gateway through which other women could pass.