Though Status Quo is best known for fast and undistinguished boogie rock, they were quite capable of subtlety when it suited them. Despite the name, most of the music on Piledriver is varied and subtle enough to be interesting. The power boogie is indeed there, as represented by crowd-pleasers like "Don't Waste My Time" and "Paper Plane," but so also are quieter, softer pieces with acoustic textures and progressive structures. The melancholy "A Year" is a standout track, a stark, melancholy song about carrying on after a loved one has died. The soft rock intro gradually shifts to a more powerful guitar piece in a way that is reminiscent of early Fleetwood Mac and has that band's delicate sense of dynamics. Elsewhere on Piledriver the band turns in a very credible slow blues piece and a folk-inflected duet for 12-string guitars. Still, most of the Status Quo fans wanted power rock, and the band obliged with one of their best pieces, the tempo-shifting "Big Fat Mama," which actually managed some U.S. airplay, though no actual chart position. The only major misstep is a version of "Roadhouse Blues" that only serves to remind the listener what a good vocalist Jim Morrison was. On the whole Piledriver is still an enjoyable listen, one that has aged much better than later albums by the same band or much other hard rock from this period.
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AllMusic Review by Richard Foss