If you’re in the mood to hear a woman roar today, and you should be, I’m going to suggest listening to Suzi Quatro’s first solo record, out in 1974 on Bell, just be-fucking-cause. Suzi got her start in The Pleasure Seekers as a Detroit teenager, then segued into a solo career (and an acting career–Happy Days fans remember her as Leather Tuscadero). Suzi’s first solo album is loaded with hard-hitting covers of rock and rhythm and blues songs, along with some original tunes as well. It’s got such an early 70s Detroit vibe, pairing a Motown influence with that raucous Detroit rock sound that came along with the MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges. Suzi doesn’t get enough credit for her part in developing Detroit’s, even America’s 70s rock scene … I’ll let you decide why that might be the case.
Suzi started making music at a time when women just weren’t playing instruments. She picked up a bass guitar as a young girl, and looking to her favorite female singers, Billie Holiday and Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las, she forged her own path, and in turn inspired many future rock acts including the Runaways and rock icon Joan Jett.
The covers on the record are fun, with Suzi coming at them at an angle, tearing the songs apart, then putting them back together in a patchwork of steady bass lines, driving beats and her signature wail trying it all together, not in one pretty package, but in a solid, brightly colored form, ready to burst at the seams.
The record is hot. Sexual. Primal and visceral, an Animal Planet documentary with a glam rock soundtrack. Suzi is the predator, and we are her willing prey, both of us serving an important role in the musical ecosystem. Suzi takes us, shakes us, wakes us up. This is a woman. This is power. This is rock n roll.