10
Oct 07

SUZI QUATRO – “Devil Gate Drive”

FT + Popular59 comments • 5,673 views

#344, 23rd February 1974

Chinn/Chapman confirm their headlock on the charts with a second number one in a row – another bubblegum playback of rock’n’roll. The strengths here are Mud’s weaknesses, a chorus and a lead vocal crammed with snarl and charisma. And the weaknesses are Mud’s strengths – off-the-shelf rhythms and a skinny biscuit-box bottom end. I think Quatro works the breakdown and build-up better here than on “Can The Can”, though obviously the two tracks are very much drawn from the same well. (Great interplay with the slavering gang of “boys”, too.)

7

Comments

  1. 1
    Rosie on 10 Oct 2007 #

    I’m afraid that, once again, Suzi’s charisma is rather lost on me. I still can’t get past the atonal shriek that passes for a vocal. It doesn’t excite me at all, it gives me a headache.

    Once again, it must be a boy thing.

  2. 2
    jeff w on 10 Oct 2007 #

    I prefer this to “Can the Can” also.

    As with “Tiger Feet”, there was a dance routine associated with this song. with high kicking on the shouted “Yeah!”s and a great dip and slide to emphasise the off-the-beat “Down in Devil Gate” bits. You can see it here, although irritatingly the video director keeps cutting away to close-ups at exactly the wrong points:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vFTksaposs

    (the first related link on that page shows the routine in all its glory, and in colour, but the sound quality’s not so good)

    The routine is poss. my favourite thing about this record, though it’s not a patch on the Mud Dance :)

  3. 3
    Kat on 10 Oct 2007 #

    I find this song spectacularly uninteresting. As a female bassist Suzi Quatro should technically be one of my role models but she has completely passed me by, poss due to SHONKY SONGS. Must do better.

  4. 4
    Rosie on 10 Oct 2007 #

    I’s rather have Tina Weymouth as a role model, quite frankly.

  5. 5
    Matthew K on 11 Oct 2007 #

    KIM DEAL.

    That’s all.

  6. 6
    Waldo on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Back to Suzi Q and she’s off again, peeping out from behind her bass and “coming alive”. By now Quatro had become established as a bird you didn’t really want to cross and DGD fitted the bill perfectly. It’s in your face all the time from “leading the angel pack on the road to sin” right up to her final order of “Come on boys. Let’s do it one more time for Suzi!”, which puts all the guys firmly in their servile place. She’s got us all on a dog lead and didn’t we just love it. Go, Girl!

    Yes, Rosie, I think it’s safe to say that Suzi is a boy thing…

  7. 7
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Editor’s Note: Mr Carlin has requested that his comments on “Devil Gate Drive” by Suzi Quatro be withheld from the public domain on the grounds that some things are too personal to express publicly even by his own puerile standards. However, he does wish it to be recorded that he would have given this song a 9, on account of “the number of times the first time”; this deliberately abstruse and impenetrable remark should be treated with the shuffling disdain it fully merits.

  8. 8
    Lena on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Suzi Quatro inspired Joan Jett, so she’s fine with me. (Jett played guitar in The Runaways.)

  9. 9

    NOT JUST IN THE RUNAWAYS

    yr pal joan jett’s real actual girlfriend

  10. 10
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    SINKER SIP JUICE LEMON INST

  11. 11
    Erithian on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Hard really to know what to say about DGD that one hasn’t already said about CTC – as Tom says they’re drawn from the same well, although I do prefer this one – let’s say it’s one of her more coherent lyrics! I love the tinkling keyboard behind the build-up as well, although next time you see the clip (I can’t access YouTube so don’t know if the clip Jeff’s posted is the TOTP one) take a look at the keyboard player, about seven feet tall and a hopeless dancer!

    We won’t be encountering Suzi again in this series, so let’s salute her contribution now – still entertaining us on Radio 2 as well. I can well imagine that Tina Weymouth for one would pip her as a role-model female bassist, but as the most TOTP-visible example of what would later be called Girl Power she must have inspired a lot of women to get into music. And there’s a batch of contributors on here who remember her effect on pre-teen boys as well. Mind you, for playing havoc with the hormones there’s another female vocalist coming up in a few months’ time who was even more effective.

  12. 12
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Only the one?

  13. 13
    Erithian on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Marcello, this is a debate that’s raged for 30-odd years, so we can wait a little while (four songs perhaps) to reopen it now, but… yes, in any other context her co-vocalist would have had the desired effect, but the woman I’m talking about was The One!

    Back to Suzi for a mo – fond memories of her summer ’74 outing “Too Big” which turned the attitude and the Glitter Band drums up to 11 but was the start of her commercial decline. I enjoyed the B-side “In The Morning”, in the bridge of which Suzi and (I presume) real-life hubby Len Tuckey play a bickering couple – “Gee I sure would like some breakfast Gloria”; “neeaahhhh, why don’t you GIT LORRSST?” Happy days.

  14. 14
    Waldo on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Yes. Surely Erithian means two and then three?

  15. 15
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    If you read her new autobiography, that was a fairly accurate picture of their marriage…

    I enjoyed the cover of “Too Big” which Nigella Lawson should study for the genuine Bacofoil = sex equation.

    The Great WHICH ONE? Debate will duly be reopened in the Popular post Tom is PH4ERing to write.

  16. 16
    Erithian on 11 Oct 2007 #

    I think I know which Three Waldo’s referring to, in which case, no, not really. Linda Lewis, now…

  17. 17
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    The crucial one for me had been having hits since ’72 but never had a number one so she won’t come up here, alas.

    “I’ve got a gun so you’d better beware”…

  18. 18
    Waldo on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Talk of twos and threes are taking us dangerously onto the slip road to Spolierstrasse and I’m as at fault as anyone. All I can say is that I was suggesting the Three rather than sponsoring them and I prefer Linda Lewis also. As for the compatriates of Ingemar Johansson, we’ll get to them soon enough and they’ll be staying quite a while.

  19. 19
    mike on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Well, the first half of 1974 marked my brief heterosexual phase, but my particular Dream Gal was foxy, busty, corseted and suspendered Dana Gillespie. Suzi Q was more like one of the lads to me, but the androgyny didn’t push any buttons – clearly I liked my women to be women! (*embarrassed cough*)

    Yes, I too prefer “Devil Gate Drive” over “Can The Can”, which left me cold at the time. This one’s warmer, poppier, more of a party record. I do love the way she’s progressively coaxing and urging and commanding, and the way the track ends in a groaning sweaty call-and-response climactic mess (“Come ALIVE! Come ALIVE! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! WOOOO-urrgh!”)

    With DGD, “Tiger Feet” and “Teenage Rampage” all in the Top 10 at the same time, this has to mark the zenith of Chinnichap – again, followed by a fairly swift decline (but let’s not forget Arrows’ “A Touch Too Much” a few months later, whose rampant sexiness must have been instrumental in steering me away from the bosomy charms of La Gillespie, and back onto my true path).

    Filial pride also commands me to mention that my sister won a local “Stars In Their Eyes” competition last Christmas, performing this very song (which I suggested she re-christen “Forest Gate Drive”).

    And finally, in the Misheard Lyrics department, I initially thought that Suzi Q was singing “down in Dimbleby, down in Dimbleby, down in Dimbleby Drive”. That’s Medium Wave for you…

  20. 20
    Erithian on 11 Oct 2007 #

    The Proustian effect of that name, Mike…

    recalls to me a letter in Record Mirror after its letters page editor, “The Face”, had suggested a pop girlie pin-up calendar and invited nominations. The letter writer stormed, something along the lines of: “It’s disgraceful that you should suggest that our most talented female performers should disrobe for your perverted pleasure. Thus, Mr Face, you stand revealed in your true colours. May God have mercy on your soul. My choices are Dana Gillespie and Sonja Kristina.”

  21. 21
    mike on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Heh! And wasn’t there quite a bit of unreconstructed Gillespie-drooling over at Disc, or am I muddling her up with Madeleine Smith?

  22. 22
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    “Yours sincerely, S. Copeland”

  23. 23
    Erithian on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Funny you should say that Marcello! I hoarded copies of Record Mirror for the latter half of the 70s, then, on being forced to cull them for the sake of my groaning wardrobe, I went through them one last time and compiled a scrapbook of highlights before chucking the rest. Looking through this scrapbook many years later I came across this gem from ‘76:

    “I’ve just been to see the Sex Pistols in Manchester and they’re the best band to emerge since the New York Dolls. Why don’t you feature them in Record Mirror? Yours, Stephen Morrissey, Stretford, Manchester.”

    Mozzer was apparently a frequent correspondent to the NME too.

  24. 24
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    IIRC, he did Manchester gig reviews for Record Mirror in the late seventies/very early eighties under the alias of “Sheridan Whiteside.”

  25. 25
    Erithian on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Hmm – if the “Whiteside” is a United reference, Big Norm didn’t make his debut until 1982…

  26. 26
    Billy Smart on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Sheridan Whiteside – a curmudgeonly critic who takes advantage of his hosts’ generosity – was a character in The Man Who Came to Dinner, a thirties Broadway comedy by George Kaufman and Moss Hart.

  27. 27
    Erithian on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Winces at evident display of own ignorance!

  28. 28
    Mark G on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Howls of derisive laffter…

  29. 29
    Billy Smart on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Nobody should be expected to know everything, not even pop swots such as ourselves!

    Devil Gate Drive is jolly enough, but seems a bit less necessary to its performers than Can the Can was, and is certainly no Tiger Feet or Ballroom Blitz. I have a feeling that if I’d been older than one at the time and had grown up learning the Devil Gate Drive dance with my friends, then I’d feel more indulgently towards it – like (Spoiler Alert!) the fun hit of Autumn 1994.

    I’m surprised to discover that I only know 3 Suzie Quatro hits. Am I missing out on anything?

  30. 30
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Her entirely atypical eleven-minute 1974 orchestral epic “Angel Flight” certainly deserves at least one listen.

  31. 31
    mike on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Another Quatro oddity is “He’s A Sports PA”: a re-worded version of her 1979 hit “She’s In Love With You”, as sportingly performed for the BBC VT department’s privately circulated Xmas comedy video, in which members of TOTP dance troupe Legs & Co gyrate suggestively around said Sports PAs in the control room. (I have no idea what a Sports PA does, mind.)

  32. 32
    Doctor Casino on 11 Oct 2007 #

    “Devil Gate Drive” is pretty good, but it’s very odd to me to see it getting rated above “Can The Can.” Really? DGD has always sounded relatively muffled and forced to me. It rocks along nicely and isn’t bad at all, but it seems curiously lacking the primal, shrieking weirdness of her previous #1. Oh well.

  33. 33
    intothefireuk on 11 Oct 2007 #

    Listening to it now it doesn’t sound quite as good as it did then. The fact that it had the word ‘devil’ in the title was probably enough to attract me in, however, it’s not exactly demonic rock ala Black Sabbath is it ? The boogie woogie piano is enough to derail it of any real raw potential giving further proof that glam/glitter had moved into it’s second phase. It is, though, a good pop song and Suzi did have her charms, as did her zipped leather cat suit (but I don’t think we can go there) so 7 is probably about right. Stupid dance though esp. lurch on the keys.

    Nestling a couple of places below is Bowie’s 4th track in the space of a year to peak at number 3 this time as covered by Lulu. His own parting shot to glam ‘Rebel Rebel’ would only manage 5.

  34. 34
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Largely because the video wasn’t ready in time to be shown on TOTP. As a last minute substitute they asked a relatively new group, lurking way down at #45 in that week’s list, to come on the programme instead with something called “Seven Seas Of Rhye.” Emperor Rosko was that week’s compere and waxed lyrically about “this exciting new band.”

  35. 35
    mike on 12 Oct 2007 #

    …about whom the music press were decidedly sniffy from the off. I remember one journalist sighing with relief after “Seven Seas of Rhye” had been and gone: “Now that we’ve got rid of that piece of tacky glam trash from the start of the year…”

    Little did they know.

  36. 36
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    I was impressed but can’t say that I had an immediate, bowled-over, WTF moment when first I saw them on TOTP – that came with a certain Anglophile American fraternity who made their chart debut a month or two later…

  37. 37
    Erithian on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Funny that the band in question should benefit from being a last-minute substitute. It’s getting ahead of the story, but that same band were due to appear on Thames TV’s “Today” programme on 1 December ’76 and had to pull out. As a last-minute substitute publicist Eric Hall managed to get another EMI band on the show. They turned up well refreshed, so did the presenter, and the rest is history.

  38. 38

    not entirely sidestepping SQ’s “charms”, i was very much taken at the time by her BIG GRIN — and i think this is an important part of what she re-engergised in pop; that the re-delving into its 50s roots got to a sense of bash-it-down fun which had got buried in all kinds of earnestness

    this is tricky territory, cz “it’s all just fun” can quickly become a way to step away from and bury in its turn all the stuff in pop that ISN’T just fun — but (even if i’m not sure the SQ songs themselves get reliably at it) there’s a kind of possibility of casual-joy-as-energy hinted at here (or gestured towards) as something to look for, and something to mind abt when it’s not there

    (porbably important: you could say the same abt bolan, but there’s lots of other things going on in bolan, and he totally bought into a weird tolkienesque version of the 60s utopia-programme, whereas w.suzy, no one is going to spend a lot of time thinking there’s other things going on, and these other things are the hook: with bolan you might, and some punksters did)

    (havin sed that: while joan jett bangs on abt the urgency of fun a lot, HER version of SQ is gauntly flight-driven — they were called the runaways bcz of what they were escaping, not what they were runnin towards)

  39. 39

    “all kinds of earnestness” = ie “all kinds of late 60s, early 70s earnestness”

  40. 40
    Tom on 12 Oct 2007 #

    The clue is kind of in the word runAWAYS isnt it? :)

  41. 41
    Tom on 12 Oct 2007 #

    & of course fun can freeze into orthodoxy pretty fast, which may well be what happened with the uncovering of 50s roots.

  42. 42
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Those other ’74 chart debutants, Showaddywaddy, for instance.

  43. 43
    Tom on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Precisely – I think pink s is dead on about SQ, though.

  44. 44

    JABOF is the Great Peril in any era of pop — but it also always contains the glint of a better unbothered post-revolutionary world [/adorno] [“just a bit of negative dialectic”]

    haha the original version of my 3500-wd essay on control (the joy division film) for f!lm qu4rterly — have to wait till jan foax, it’s a quarterly! — began with a (c.7000-wd) disquisition on the runaways, escapism, pop’s commodification of teen sex, flight-as-lure vs flight-as-fight, and how JJ negotiated all this and pushed on out the other side in time to encounter punk rock and actual real escape

    (based round a comparison of JD’s “transmission” and lou reed’s “rock n roll”, which the runaways covered on their first LP)

  45. 45

    not insignificant that westwood and mclaren began touting the fashion end of the 50s rocker-revival: in fact, i *think* i recall that they togged out showaddywaddy, but maybe that’s a bit too perfect

    also important: the nexus linking commodity fetishism, sexual fetishism, revolt-as-puritanism and revolt-as-libertinism

  46. 46
    Caledonianne on 12 Oct 2007 #

    I have a fondness for Devil Gate Drive, which I much prefer to Can the Can. The former has a sort of engaging amiability (I think it’s the piano) that just makes me smile.

    I was slightly too old (and serious) to really buy into the Chinnichap thing but, despite being a girl, I always had a sort of sneaking affection for Suzi. I suppose I liked the way she was out in front of the guys, tiny girl with the big bass. I also rather liked the fact that she was an American (so with that extra pzazz) who was choosing to major on the UK market; think back over the UK/Irish women who’ve had #1 records so far in the 70s – Dana, old Hilda in Lieutenant Pigeon, Diane Lee, Eve and Lynn from the New Seekers (both of whom looked to me as if they could have happily inhabited an episode of 1975’s Surbiton-set The Good Life, or any other suburbia-fest) – and Suzi seemed to come from another, deliciously riskier, planet.

    Anytime I’ve seen her interviewed she always seemed like a good ‘un, no pretensions, a twinkle in the eye and just committed to having fun, whether it was in this sort of leather-clad candyfloss, or in the later Annie Get Your Gun era.

    And the “one more time, for Suzi”, was pretty cool, too.

  47. 47
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Historical note: by ’73 Viv and Malc’s Let It Rock shop had become Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die and they had more or less abandoned the fifties stuff in favour of introducing biker stuff and, gradually, the bondage stuff which led to Sex – possibly influenced by the stall that some guy called Freddie had at Kensington Market. I don’t recall their kitting out Showaddywaddy but they were certainly responsible for the costumes in the film That’ll Be The Day.

  48. 48
    mike on 12 Oct 2007 #

    JABOF [Just A Bit Of Fun] is the Great Peril in any era of pop.

    Peril for whom? For the critic? For the integrity of the art? Not, surely, for the listener?

    Certainly not for me; that kind of energising, all-enveloping rush of uncompromised joy is one of the elements of pop music (and dance music) that I require, respond to and value the most of all. Maybe it defies fresh creative analysis. Hell, maybe it transcends it…!

  49. 49
    Tom on 12 Oct 2007 #

    The “just” and “a bit” are what’s compromising the joy though Mike!

    In daily conversation, “just a bit of fun” as a shorthand has ended up meaning “not actually fun at all for some” – it’s a phrase bullies use when people point out that they’re boring or cruel: fun as an excuse, a way of driving out minority voices.

    This is a bit harsh on Showaddywaddy possibly!

  50. 50

    it’s the “just” that renders it perilous i think — and the peril is that it’s a GREAT THING (for the reasons you say) which therefore always threatens to turn into a REDUCTIVE TRAP, so that you end up with artists playing down to fun, which can become very formulaic (as in dreary and oppressive and unsurprising) as opposed to formulaic (as in OMG AWESOME!)

    peril isn’t something to be avoided — all great quests require large amounts of it — but it isn’t peril if it didn’t mean that things CAN go horribly wrong (smaug eats all the dwarves AND the hobbit the end)

  51. 51
    mike on 12 Oct 2007 #

    OK, I’m with you now, thanks for clarifying your position. Yes, I do accept that the quest for Fun For Fun’s Sake can become reductive, especially where it’s being explicitly chased rather than instinctively found, and especially when it’s being used as a cover for creative decline. Plenty of examples of that to be found along the way…

  52. 52
    Snif on 13 Oct 2007 #

    Just an extra note about Queen – in January 74 they played at the Sunbury Rock Festival in Victoria, Australia. As recalled at milesago,com….

    “Queen were famously booed off the stage after their performance (although Mick Fettes once told us that that the crowd were not really against Queen, they just wanted to see Madder Lake, who were the next band on). According to one source, the announcer came on just after Queen had performed and asked: “D’you want anymore from these pommie bastards or do ya want an Aussie rock band?” Queen quit the stage to boos and calls of `go back to Pommyland, ya pooftahs!’ but Freddie Mercury bravely responded by saying “When we come back to Australia, Queen will be the biggest band in the world!”

    He was right!

  53. 53
    rosie on 15 Oct 2007 #

    In 1975, I think, I went with a bunch of people to see (please avert your eyes, those of a punkish disposition) Santana at the Hammersmith Odeon. The support act was Earth Wind and Fire, who clearly thought they should be in charge. At the end of their set, they didn’t exactly get booed but any applause they got was distinctly unenthusiastic. All the same, they insisted on their right to play a lengthy encore.

    It’s not that EW&F were bad. It’s just that they were playing for an audience who wanted to hear Santana, and they weren’t going to be terribly impressed by pyrotechnics, revolving drummers, and other pyrotechnics.

    When Carlos Santana eventually came on, he was stupendous. No need for histrionics. He more-or-less just stood there playing, with scarcely a nod to introduce a change of tempo, or a solo from another band member. TRhe audience were on their feet at the end; he could have played all weekend for them.

    The really strange thing is, I looked up the review of the gig in the Melody Maker afterwards. The reviewer began by asserting that, if this were America, Santana would be supporting Earth Wind and Fire, and then proceeded to review EWF, all but ignoring Santana.

  54. 54
    Marcello Carlin on 15 Oct 2007 #

    Sounds like a Steve Lake job to me.

  55. 55
    S.A. on 18 Dec 2007 #

    1st heard of Quatro back in ’71 while in VN. Saw her in 75? when she opened for Alice Cooper. This chick tore it up. Hard-corps rock n’roll Storm-Trooper she was [still is].

  56. 56
    Phil O'Malley on 27 May 2009 #

    The uncompromising order from Suzi Quatro to “Can the Can” was kind of genius..as if it was something we knew how to do. It was fun here in America. We got the tough chick image and it melded perfectly with her look. “Devil Gate Drive” was fun but lacked the garage feel of “48 Crash” and also the aforementioned “Can the Can”. I think it all went from kind of hysterical rock chick to fun stuff in “Devil Gate Drive”. I always imagined Suzi kind of inviting everybody to a drag race a la James Dean, what with her “motorcycle chick chic” in tact. Fun song…but we wanted more of the first LP…really raunchy, unrelenting and very cool. Still, all in all, Suzi was going to be remembered for the tough chick thing…so while her second LP is not nearly as slick, tough and genius as her debut, it had several shining moments…and “Devil Gate Drive” is among them. Now go put on your leather jacket, call some friends, and “Let’s Hear it One More Time for SUZI!!!”.

  57. 57
    lonepilgrim on 29 Jun 2009 #

    You can listen to SQ playing this song, and others, live in ’75 here:

    http://bigozine2.com/roio/?p=238

  58. 58
    Larry on 2 Nov 2014 #

    I would give it 9. Rock & roll revival mixed with T. Rex. And that chord change on “drive” (second time in the chorus) is so 70s.

  59. 59
    lonepilgrim on 20 Oct 2019 #

    it’s the half-hearted ‘doo-wop’ backing vocals and lumpy boogie-woogie rhythm that sink this for me. Suzi is as cheerfully committed as usual but everything else sounds half-arsed – 48 crash is far superior

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