Suzi Q – movie review

After seeing this doco, I fell in love with Suzi Quatro all over again. Growing up she was the “it” girl for me – this sexy, dynamic bass player and singer with that gravelly voice … all dressed in leather. I loved songs like “Devil Gate Drive”, “48 Crash”, “The Wild One”, “Stumblin’ In” and “If You Can’t Give Me Love”. And Quatro wasn’t a stage name – she was born Susan Kay Quatro.

We learn a heap about her and her family and music ties. Born into a musical family in working class Detroit, all the kids became involved in the music business. First, they formed an all-girl band before Suzi was recognised as the standout and transported alone to London, which didn’t sit well with some members of the clan. With talented people around her, “Can the Can” became her first number one hit in 1973. Others followed, although like ABBA, Australia was her consistent bedrock. She was big in the UK too and parts of Europe, but mega success in her home country eluded her. Mind you, a memorable stint in the hit TV series Happy Days certainly boosted her profile.

Featuring more than three dozen interviews and a surfeit of home video, Suzi Q casts a keen eye on the show biz persona and personal life of a highly talented artist and performer. She was a natural. She knew what to do on stage in front of an audience. She was the consummate entertainer. Her brilliant smile, coupled with her good looks and musicality made her the complete package.

Even though she didn’t highlight her gender, she forged a role for women in the business which wasn’t there previously. The likes of Joan Jett and Blondie, who are also interviewed, followed.

Although she never finished school, Quatro comes across as smart and savvy. Apart from singing, strumming and TV acting, she has had a diversified career. Punctuated by clips of her performing, Suzi Q paints the picture of ambition realised with a few missteps along the way. She is real – disarmingly honest – and unlike so many others who found fame, stayed away from drugs.

Australian filmmakers Liam Firmager (director) and Tait Brady (producer) worked on the doco for four and a half years on three continents; and it shows.

Suzi Q is well worth seeing (there are 42 songs featured).

Alex First

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