The qualities of Suzi Q are the qualities of Suzi Quatro: inoffensive, charming, friendly, nice. Quatro achieved a pioneering position as a bassist singer in a custom leather catsuit, but her lifestyle was hardly rock ‘n roll: a few beers and cigarettes was the extent of her debauchery, and, ironically, one of the shocking things about seeing a lot of archival footage of Quatro is just how clean, wholesome and healthy she looks. New interviews shot for this documentary with Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Debbie Harry and a lot of male promoters, producers and band members present more ravaged faces and voices, but Quatro is that grannie who looks too young to be a grannie, and is frequently shown jogging.
So what’s left for a sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll doco to offer, when there’s no sex and drugs? Rock ‘n roll, of course, and Suzi Q does its best to place Quatro in the firmament, arguing, along the way, that a set of circumstances – the wrong place at the wrong time – meant that she became a star in the UK, Europe and Australia, but never cracked her home country of the USA. I would suggest her music wasn’t as significant as that of Blondie, The Runaways and others, but the film takes the qualities of her hits for granted. There’s not a lot of critical analysis.
Given that this is an Australian production, I was expecting a second or third act turn into Quatro’s intersection with the greatest continent, but it never came, and Molly Meldrum never showed up (which was really kind of weird given his championing of Quatro; her appearances on Hey Hey It’s Saturday don’t rate any screen time either). That’s perhaps indicative of the film, which doesn’t have much of a thesis, except to say that Quatro and her sisters still have some issues. Like Quatro herself, Suzi Q is a pleasant hang, a G rated version of a rock star life.