Status Quo's 10 greatest songs, ranked

15 August 2023, 12:20

Status Quo
Status Quo. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Status Quo are one of the most enduring and influential rock bands in British music history.

Founded in 1962 by schoolmates Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster, and later joined by various members including Rick Parfitt, the band has gone through many name and lineup changes, but has always maintained its distinctive style of hard rock, boogie rock, and rock and roll.

With over 60 chart hits in the UK, including 22 Top 10 singles, Status Quo has a rich and diverse discography that spans six decades.

Whether you are a longtime fan or a newcomer to their music, you will find something to enjoy in this selection of Status Quo classics.

  1. Burning Bridges

    Status Quo - Burning Bridges (Official Video)

    Status Quo’s song ‘Burning Bridges’ is a rock anthem that was released in 1988 as a single from their album Ain’t Complaining.

    The song is based on the melody of a traditional English folk song called ‘Darby Kelly’, which is about a drummer who played at the Battle of Waterloo.

    The lyrics of ‘Burning Bridges’ are about leaving behind the past and moving on to the future, with references to historical events such as the Norman Conquest and the American Revolution.

    The song was a commercial success, reaching number five in the UK.

    Manchester United teamed up with Status Quo and used it as the basis for their FA Cup song ‘Come On You Reds’ in 1994, topping the charts.

  2. What You're Proposing

    Status Quo - What You're Proposing • TopPop

    Released in 1980, this was a single from their album Just Supposin’.

    The song was written by Francis Rossi and Bernie Frost, and it reached number two on the UK Singles Chart, becoming one of their most successful hits.

    The song is a rock tune with a catchy chorus and a guitar solo by Rick Parfitt. The lyrics are about a casual relationship that the narrator is not sure about, and he keeps asking “what you’re proposing” to his partner.

    Some of the influences of the song include Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles, as well as other rock and roll artists of the 1950s and 1960s.

  3. Roll Over Lay Down

    Roll Over Lay Down - Status Quo

    This song was first released on their sixth studio album, Hello!, in 1973, and it became one of their most popular and enduring songs.

    The song was later released as the A-side of a live EP, Quo Live, in 1975, to celebrate the band’s 13th anniversary. The EP was a success, reaching number 9 on the UK Singles Chart.

  4. Paper Plane

    Paper Plane - Status Quo

    This was the first single from Status Quo's fifth studio album, Piledriver, which marked a change in their musical style from psychedelic pop to hard rock and boogie rock.

    The song was written by Francis Rossi and Bob Young, and is about the desire to escape from the mundane and boring aspects of life, and to fly away like a paper plane.

    The song reached number 8 on the UK Singles Chart, and was one of their first songs to feature the distinctive twin guitar sound that would become their trademark.

  5. In the Army Now

    Status Quo - In The Army Now

    Released in 1986, ‘In the Army Now’ is a cover of a song that was originally written and performed by Dutch duo Rob and Ferdi Bolland, also known as Bolland & Bolland, in 1982.

    The song is a sarcastic and critical commentary on the American military involvement in the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955 to 1975 and resulted in millions of casualties.

    The song depicts the harsh realities and dangers of being a soldier, such as facing bullets, bombs, mines and diseases, and contrasts them with the naive and romanticized expectations of joining the army, such as wearing a uniform, travelling the world and having fun.

    The song was a huge hit for Status Quo, reaching number one in several countries. It also became a popular anthem for anti-war movements and peace activists around the world.

    The band re-recorded the song in 2010 with new lyrics to support the British troops in Afghanistan and to raise funds for the Help for Heroes charity.

  6. Pictures of Matchstick Men

    Status Quo - Pictures of Matchstick Men (1968) [High Quality Sound, Subtitled]

    This track is a classic example of psychedelic rock from the late 1960s. The song was written by Francis Rossi, who was inspired by the paintings of LS Lowry, a British artist known for his scenes of industrial life in northern England.

    Lowry often depicted workers and buildings as stylized figures and shapes, which Rossi compared to matchsticks.

    The song became the band’s first hit, reaching number 7 in the UK. The song features a distinctive guitar riff that repeats throughout, as well as a flanging effect that creates a swirling sound.

  7. Caroline

    Status Quo - Caroline

    ‘Caroline’ was released as a single in 1973 and reached number five in the UK. It was also included on their seventh studio album, Hello!

    The song was written by the band’s lead singer and guitarist Francis Rossi and their roadie and harmonica player Bob Young. They composed the song on a napkin in a hotel in Cornwall in 1971, and recorded a demo with Rossi playing guitar and bass, and Terry Williams on drums.

    The band later changed the arrangement from a slow blues song to a fast rock song, using their stage equipment and amplifiers.

  8. Whatever You Want

    Status Quo - Whatever You Want (Official Video Remastered)

    Status Quo’s song 'Whatever You Want' is a classic rock anthem that showcases the band’s energetic and catchy style.

    The song was written by Rick Parfitt and Andy Bown, and was released as the lead single from the album of the same name in 1979. The song reached number 4 on the UK charts and became one of the band’s most popular and enduring hits.

    The song is about having the freedom to choose your own path in life, regardless of what others may think or say. The song features a distinctive guitar riff that is instantly recognizable and memorable.

  9. Down Down

    Status Quo - Down down 1974 Video Sound HQ

    'Down Down' is a classic rock anthem that showcases Status Quo's signature boogie style. It was written by Francis Rossi and Bob Young, who were inspired by T Rex’s debut single 'Debora'.

    The song was originally titled 'Get Down', but it was changed before release to avoid confusion with Gilbert O’Sullivan’s song of the same name.

    'Down Down' was the lead single from the band’s eighth studio album On the Level. The song reached number one in the UK in 1975, becoming Status Quo’s only number one hit in their home country.

  10. Rockin' All Over the World

    Status Quo - Rockin All Over The World

    'Rockin’ All Over the World' was released in 1977 as the title track of their 10th studio album.

    The song was written and originally recorded by American singer-songwriter John Fogerty, best known as the lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Fogerty’s version was a minor hit in the US.

    Status Quo recorded their own, heavier arrangement of Fogerty’s song. It was their first album to be produced by Pip Williams and the first to feature Andy Bown as a regular contributor to the band.

    The song peaked at #3 in the UK and became one of their most popular and enduring songs.

    In July 1985, Status Quo opened Live Aid at Wembley Stadium with 'Rockin’ All Over the World', which was broadcast to an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion people.