Thursday, July 14, 2011

Status Quo: Pictures Of Matchstick Men

TV Thursday takes us back to November 1967 when Status Quo (or as they were known then “The Status Quo”) released “Pictures of Matchstick Men” – their only American hit record. While the record only charted at 12 in the US in 1968, it has become known to an entirely new generation as the music behind the latest Target commercial.

This band is still going strong nearly 50 years after their establishment in 1962; Status Quo contains one original member, lead guitarist Francis Rossi. In addition, guitarist Rick Parfitt, who played on today’s selection, is also with the band. The current line-up has remained fairly consistent since reforming in 1986. No longer with Status Quo are others who performed on the 1967 recording: bassist Alan Lancaster, keyboardist Roy Lynes, and drummer John Coughlin.

The term “matchstick men” came from the artwork of L.S. Lowry who often painted industrial scenes of Northern England with his characterization of the people being termed as “matchstick men and women.” There are actually two versions of the song – the mono single mix and the stereo album mix that appeared on their debut LP titled “Messages from The Status Quo featuring Pictures of Matchstick Men” in the US and “Picturesque Matchstickable: Messages from the Status Quo” in the UK

Besides the orientation (monaural vs. stereophonic), the differences between the single and album mixes can be heard on the single version. The single uses wah-wah pedal on the guitar between the verses and there is a prominent usage of tape flanging. While the flanging is present on the album mix, it is not as discernible.

Single Version: Mono

Album Version: Stereo

Target Commercial

Live Version from 2009

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