Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo

Status-Quo---1968--1Status Quo, also known as The Quo or just Quo, are an English rock band whose music is characterized by their distinctive brand of boogie rock.

The origins of Status Quo were in the rock and roll freakbeat band “The Spectres” formed in 1962. Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster met at Sedgehill Comprehensive School, Catford, and were members of the same orchestra. They started a band called The Scorpions, later changing the name to “The Spectres”. Rossi and Lancaster played their first gig at the Samuel Jones Sports Club in Dulwich, London. In 1963 they added drummer John Coghlan. They began writing their own material and after a year met Rick Parfitt who was playing with a cabaret band called The Highlights. By the end of 1965 Rossi and Parfitt, who had become close friends, made a commitment to continue working together. On 18 July 1966 The Spectres signed a five-year deal with Piccadilly Records, releasing two singles that year, “I (Who Have Nothing)” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man” (written by Alan Lancaster), and one the next year called “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” (a song originally recorded by New York psychedelic band The Blues Magoos).

By 1967, the group had discovered psychedelia and changed their name to Traffic (later amended to Traffic Jam, to avoid confusion with Steve Winwood’s Traffic). At this time the line-up also included organist Roy Lynes.  In late 1967 the band became The Status Quo, and in January 1968 they released the psychedelic-favored “Pictures of Matchstick Men”

Pictures of Matchstick Men

The song opens with a single guitar repeatedly playing a simple four note riff before the rhythm guitar comes in with chords and the drums and lyrics begin. Pictures of Matchstick Men is one of a number of songs from the late sixties to feature phasing (the audio effect).

I wrote it on the bog. I’d gone there, not for the usual reasons…but to get away from the wife and mother-in-law. I used to go into this narrow frizzing toilet and sit there for hours, until they finally went out. I got three quarters of the song finished in that khazi. The rest I finished in the lounge.”

The song is an example of bubblegum psychedelia. Their following release Black Veils of Melancholy was similar but flopped and so caused the group to change direction.

The “matchstick men” of the song refer to the paintings of L.S. Lowry.

Pictures of Matchstick Men – Francis Rossi

When I look up to the skies
I see your eyes a funny kind of yellow
I rush home to bed I soak my head
I see your face underneath my pillow
I wake next morning, tired, still yawning
See your face come peeping through my window

Pictures of matchstick men and you
Mirages of matchstick men and you
All I ever see is them and you

Windows echo your reflection
When I look in their direction now
When will this haunting stop?
Your face it just won’t leave me alone

Pictures of matchstick men and you
Mirages of matchstick men and you
All I ever see is them and you

You’re in the sky and with the sky
You make men cry, you lie
You’re in the sky and with the sky
You make men cry, you lie

Pictures of matchstick men and
Pictures of matchstick men and you
Pictures of matchstick men ….

  • Audio from the 1968 album, Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo:

Picturesque

Play Pictures of Matchstick Men - by Status Quo