Back in 1990, myself and – I reckon – many other rock fans thought that British rockers The Quireboys would someday be one of the giants of rock, a band that would become a platinum act that sold out arenas and stadiums all over the world. Their 1990 debut A Bit Of What You Fancy was a huge success that spawned three big hits and the band toured all over the world and the gained fans wherever they went. But things didn’t turn out as planned. When it was time for album number two, the band relocated to sunny California and hired producer Bob Rock, then the hottest rock producer in the world with big selling albums by Mötley Crüe, The Cult, Bon Jovi and Metallica on his CV. But the thing was that The Quireboys were a typical British band, a rock n roll gang that were influenced by bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Faces and had more in common with rockers such as The Black Crowes more than the usual glam / sleaze / AOR / hard rock bands that Rock had been involved with. Also, Rock’s schedule was extremely busy which meant that The Quireboys had to wait a long time for him to make time for them. So, when the album – Bitter Sweet And Twisted – finally came out in 1993, very delayed, the scene had changed and many had forgotten about the band. Also, Rock’s slick and over worked production didn’t fit The Quireboys’ raw and stripped down to earth rock ‘n’ roll. It was a good album song wise, but the production was too much Cali and not enough British. It wasn’t a huge flop but it didn’t come close to its predecessor. After the tour, the band was over. Also, too much illegal substances and alcohol had taken its toll on the members which was another reason for the band’s demise. Lead singer Jonathan “Spike” Gray put together a new version of the band in 2001 and recorded a couple of records – This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll (2001) and Well Oiled (2004) – that were ok, but never really left a mark, but at least he managed to get The Quireboys back on the map and live, they were still a force to be reckoned with.
It was with 2008’s Homewreckers And Heartbreakers that Spike and the guys really started to make a bit of a fuss album wise. The album showed that the band still had a lot to prove and they were fully capable of making new music that mattered. Beautiful Curse (2013) and Black Eyes Sons (2014) were both really good records that had the true Quireboys sound and by then it was clear that The Quireboys were a band that was back to stay with no intentions of being some nostalgia act that travelled around playing a small gig or the odd festival here and there, only doing the hits for a small nostalgic crowd. It also needs to be mentioned that original guitar player Guy Griffin has been in the band with Spike since the reunion in 2001. Original bass player Nigel Mogg was also there for the two first albums from 2001 and 2004 but has since left the band. But even though the band has released really good albums in the last few years, the songs hasn’t had that little extra thing that could helped them the reach to the same height as stuff like “Hey You”, “Seven O’Clock” or “Misled”. That said, I still haven’t heard a note from their last album, St Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul (2015). Hell, I didn’t even know that album existed up until now, so I don’t know about that one.
The album opens with “Torn And Frayed”, an old-time blues rocker with a bit of a country vibe. There’s some ace harmonica playing which adds to the groove. There are elements in the song that takes me back to Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street (1972) – and that’s not just because of the song’s title. A very good opener. “Ghost Train” is a big groovy rhythm & blues rocker, complete with a honk piano and some killer back-up vocals that comes close to gospel – a brilliant tune. “Killing Time” leans more towards real hard rock with some catchy riffing and a steady beat, Aerosmith style but the core of the song is classic Quireboys. The title track is a bit more mellow but still has an infectious groove and a great melody. Lynne Jackaman (formerly of St Jude) lifts the chorus with her amazing voice. “Breaking Rocks” is – as the title might suggest – a heavier piece with a bad-ass riff and I’m thinking Stones again, this time around Goat’s Head Soup (1973). “Gracie B (Part 2)” is a reworked version of the song “Gracie B”, the opening track from their last record. Since I haven’t heard that version I can’t compare them but this one is an uptempo blues/rock half ballad with a big, fat Hammond organ with some raunchy guitars, a very good tune. “Life’s A Bitch” is a full-on mid 70’s Rolling Stones rocker that swings like crazy and rocks like Hell. I have no problem imagining Keith Richards taking on a song like this. I just gotta love it. “Stroll On” is a softer blues rocker that, eeh strolls on, actually (pardon the pun) and the whole song sounds just like a small, smokey blues club – very atmospheric. “Shotgun Way” is a good time rocker with one hell of a swing, much in the vein of the debut album and it comes with a really direct and catchy chorus. The closing track “Midnight Collective” is a soulful blues ballad, heartfelt and emotional with a calm vibe. Some versions of the record also contains two bonus tracks. The first is a rocker called “Win Some. Lose Some”, a very regular rock song. It’s ok but it doesn’t move me that much. The second one is a reprise of the title track, but as the first one is a bit shorter (radio edit), the only difference between them is a minute and not really necessary at all.
Just like this album’s latest predecessors, this is a very good record. This band has always had their very own sound even though it’s pretty easy to spot their influences, so it sounds like Quireboys all the way, something that won’t disappoint any Quireboys-fan out there. Spike still has his raspy Rod Stewart-like voice intact and guitarists Griffin and Paul Guerin – who has been by Spike’s side since 2004 – provides with a raunchy and punchy rock ‘n’ roll sound that’s pivotal for a band like this. The production, signed the band and Martin Ekelund, is very down to earth and not too slick or smooth – in other words, it rocks. The only problem is that once again, the hits are lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want The Quireboys to be a Bon Jovi or anything like that, but I can’t find the song that floors me, the kind they had shitloads of on their debut, the song that will bring them back to the masses. All of the songs are really good but none hits bulls-eye. Still, if you’re a Quireboys-fan I can’t see no reason not to purchase this album.
Other Quireboys reviews:
1. Torn & Frayed
2. Ghost Train
3. Killing Time
4. Twisted Love (Radio Edit)
5. Breaking Rocks
6. Gracie B (Part II)
7. Life’s a Bitch
8. Stroll On
9. Shotgun Way
10. Midnight Collective
11. Win Some, Lose Some (Bonus track)
12. Twisted Love (Full length version, bonus track)