Personnel: Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt (vocals, guitar); John "Rhino" Edwards (vocals, background vocals); Andrew Bown (guitar, harmonica, keyboards, background vocals); Bob Young (harmonica); Willem "Wim" Calluy (keyboards); Andrew "Toot" Carman (drums).
Audio Mixer: Chris West.
Recording information: Ridge Farm, Capel, Surrey, England; State Of The Ark Studios.
Photographer: Jeany Savage.
Status Quo's third album of covers in seven years continues more in the vein of Famous in the Last Century than in the footsteps of Don't Stop; that album, after all, seemed dedicated to establishing the band as all-around pop entertainers. Riffs, on the other hand, restates their credentials as perhaps the single most influential guitar band in British rock history by lining some of Quo's own past classics up alongside the best of their musical references. And the marriage is seamless. Recorded during the Heavy Traffic sessions, and apparently done so despite the band's own wishes, Riffs is exactly what it says on the box, a succession of some of the most electrifying riffs ever written -- and yes, that even includes the J. Geils Band's "Centerfold," the most recent song on the set, but not so spotty that you'd notice. Elsewhere, from "Born to Be Wild" to "Caroline," from "Junior's Wailing" to "All Day and All of the Night," Riffs' single-mindedness could be accused of playing straight into the hands of those who would accuse Quo of aiming straight for the lowest common denominator. In fact, it simply reinforces their own indelible mark on the history of rock. A bonus DVD accompanied the CD, rounding up a clutch of recent TV appearances, and putting some excellent pictures to the sounds in your head -- three songs from the U.K. special The One and Only, three more from Top of the Pops, and a couple from Swiss TV. They're no substitute for the all-encompassing video anthology that Quo fans are really hungering for, but it's an enjoyable blast regardless. ~ Dave Thompson