February 28, 2024

Naturally, if you ask long-term fans of Status Quo who the band’s bass player is, the name Alan Lancaster will be the first to pop into mind. Lancaster was a member of the frantic four from its inception in the early 1960s  up until the band’s implosion in 1985. Nevertheless, John ‘Rhino’ Edwards has been their bassist and backing vocalist since they reformed soon afterwards, which means he has been Quo’s bassist for roughly twice as long as Lancaster was. He is a great fit too, sharing their down-to-earth, cheeky-chappie London attitude, and being a songwriter to boot. Having released three albums under the name Rhino’s Revenge since the turn of the millennium, this fourth opus is released under his own name. The ‘Rhino’ nickname is reportedly related to his legendary clumsiness!

Sometimes, people do solo side-projects to display another side of their nature, somewhat removed from the original band’s aesthetic. In this case though, Rhino’s music is soaked in Status Quo sauce. I find this curiously comforting, proving as it does that Quo is not just a paying gig for him, but he really does love this style of upbeat, good-time rock’n’roll. Just Sayin’ also takes several cues from the heavier end of the 1960s pop spectrum.

Photo by Tina Korhonen

For instance, the opening number, Can’t Count Me Out, exemplifies both of these influences. Co-written by Quo bandmate Francis Rossi, it powers in like an adrenalized version of The Who’s Can’t Explain, before settling down into a rocker in the true Quo tradition. Second number Limbo is a slower, more downbeat track, but features a great, tasteful guitar solo by Rhino’s son Freddie, who also did duty for Quo in the immediate aftermath of Rick Parfitt’s sad demise – the lyric video can be viewed at the foot of this page.

Taking Care Of Mary is a beautiful melodic pop-rocker, sung from the point of view of a group of friends bidding farewell to just such a lost loved one, and for me is the best song, lyric-wise, on the album. The band then reverts to type, with the typical latter-day Quo number Never Too Old To Rock And Roll. Co-written by Francis Rossi and Andy Bown, it’s good-time party music, catchy as hell, and begging for audience answer-back. Rossi contributes a guitar solo and backing vocals, and the song has already been released as a double-A with Limbo as the album’s lead single.

Having convinced us that we know what to expect, Rhino subverts expectations on a couple of numbers, notably the sweet, 1960s pop of Good Evening Primrose, and the jazz-brush swing of Spooning. This contains an unexpected wah-wah electric guitar solo, treated in such a way as to sound almost like a muted jazz trumpet.

The album contains no less than 14 songs ranging from 2½ to 4½ minutes, for a total of 50 minutes, which to me, is just about right for a CD-era record. Other highlights include Caravan Man, a jolly, quirky number with a slight flavour of Dave Edmunds and ‘60s pop, and My Side Of The Road, a typical 3-chord Quo shuffle, with some subtle, overdriven harp in the background.

A couple of other guest spots are worth a mention; Jim Kirkpatrick of FM plays a slide guitar solo on the stridently adolescent Wizzie Lizzie LA, while bass on the rocking My Side Of The Road is contributed by Chris Wolstenholme of Muse, no less. But arguably the only time Rhino really comes out swinging is on the angry and frustrated The PC World – not an advert for an electronics superstore, but a damning rant against the snowflake generation, with its offended, lip-trembling accusations of selfishness and oppression against anyone who dares to express an opinion at odds with today’s twisted wokeness. “You can silence anyone,” he blasts, “just call them a -phobe or an -ist.”

That song on its own may well get the CD banished from many modern homes, which would be a shame, because then they would also miss the gloriously life-affirming and childishly innocent closing number, Happy Ending, with its slightly Caribbean vibe. “I really like you,” he insists several times, bringing the whole album to a sudden halt on the unfinished line, “Everybody loves a happy…!”

If Status Quo is your thing, you could do a lot worse than this slightly offbeat, independent version of the same vibe. Even if Status Quo isn’t your thing, the same statement applies. Have some fun and give it a listen.

Just Sayin’ by John ‘Rhino’ Edwards is released on 1 March 2024 via Molano Music