Although Status Quo's commercial status has never been in doubt, few long-time fans have truly rated their '80s-'90s era output alongside the bedazzling blues boogie classics that they unleashed earlier in their lifespan -- that peerless run of albums that stretched between Piledriver and Rockin' All Over the World. Too many clichés, too much fuss, too little heads-down, no-nonsense rock & roll. If you gave up on Quo any time in the past 20 years, you're not alone. But, if you return to the fold for Heavy Traffic, you won't be alone either.
Quite simply, Heavy Traffic is Quo's finest studio album since Blue for You -- bar none. Recorded with all five bandmembers simply standing together in the studio and playing -- exactly like they used to work, before producers and computers and technology came along -- it offers nothing more or less than Quo ever should have represented. Crunchy rhythms, driving tempos, a blue-collar barroom barrage that doesn't even let up for the ballads -- because there aren't any!
Neither are there any cover versions and, if a few of the band's own old ghosts do filter through, that's only to be expected; there are, after all, only so many things you can do with the trademark Quo sound. So "Creepin' Up on You" has a hint of "Roll Over Lay Down" playing around its fringes, and "All Stand Up" is a bit like "Down Down." One might also detect a distinctly Free-esque edge to "Rhythm of Life," but that's no bad thing either. Indeed, it serves only to remind us just how closely affiliated the two bands were during their early-'70s prime -- and this is the sound of Quo re-establishing their half of the balance. Beyond the realm of any expectation -- a masterpiece!