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.)



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  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:


    (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 #


    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


    yr pal joan jett’s real actual girlfriend

  10. 10
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Oct 2007 #


  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.

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