The fact that The Quireboys are still alive and kicking and have been so for that last 10 years or so is probably to every rocker’s knowledge these days, but are there anyone out there besides me that have been wondering what the hell happened to lead singer Spike’s song-writing partner and guitarist Guy Bailey? I mean, it was him and Spike that wrote all the classic hits that made The Quireboys’ debut album A Bit Of What You Fancy (1990) such a brilliant album and such a success and he was also part of The Quireboys second album, the underrated but by Bob Rock overproduced Bitter Sweet And Twisted (1993). Not to bash The Quireboys of 2016, I mean they are still an amazing live act and they have released some damn fine records, but I think it’s safe to say that most fans still hold their two first albums as their finest. Well, me personally, I have always hoped that Bailey one day would return to Spike’s side and write some more killer songs with him. I have definitely wondered where the hell Bailey went and why we haven’t heard from the guy. So imagine my surprise when I was about to listen to an album by a band called Thirsty (a really weird name for a band, I thought to myself) that had ended up in my mailbox and the press release told me that it was the new album by Bailey’s new outfit. All of a sudden, the album became very interesting.
In his band, Bailey has joined forces with one Phil Johnstone, the keyboard player on The Quireboys’ debut album and in Thirsty, he also handles the bass, Russian poet Irina D who sings occasionally and is, I guess, the band’s lyricist and drummer Simon Hanson (Squeeze). For production duties, the band hired Chris Kimsey, mostly known for his work with The Rolling Stones, which gives us a nod to what we’re probably about to expect here. The lead vocals, Bailey takes care of himself. Also, it turns out that Thirsty released their self-titled debut album back in 2015, something I was completely oblivious to – so this band is totally new to me.
The album opens with “The Albatross”, written on the subject of the old poem “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” (that feels kinda familiar, huh, metal heads out there?), is a pretty slow, bluesy thing but very rhythmic and the groove is comprehensive. Bailey turns out to have a raw and raspy voice, it’s deep and a bit brittle. On this track he comes off like a mix between Keith Richards and Lou Reed and the style has an early 70’s Rolling Stones smell – it’s a real killer! Second track “Chaos” is also on the slower side and very bluesy. It takes a more monotone route, but that’s not negative at all. The electric piano and keyboards gives the song carachter and the killer guitar solo makes me think of Mick Taylor (Ex- Rolling Stones) which can never be a bad thing. Lynne Jackaman (St Jude) lays some soulful backing vocals on it, something that helps the song rise – this is some great stuff. “Orlando” is also slow-paced, but the groove is big and again, there’s a lot of Stones over it. The harmonica arrangement reminds me of said band’s 1978 track “Some Girls”. Jackaman guests with some powerful vocals and her amazing voice brings an almost gospel like feel to the song – brilliant! “Say It Ain’t So, Joe” is a blues based, melancholic ballad, very dynamic and a soothing darkness dwells all over it. It sounds like something I can picture ole Keef doing on a solo album and it’s a pretty good song, but I can’t really get it to stick. “Black Hole” swings with the biggest of grooves and a damn catchy melody. At the same time it’s very raw, naked and stripped and it gets under my skin immediately.
“Beat Of Her Heart” mixes some early 70’s blues vibes with late 70’s pop melodies and even though it’s leans towards being a half-ballad, it rocks. The melody is completely addictive and spontaneously, it feels like the song that should / could sell this record to the broader masses. “Va Banque” comes in a slower paced ballad, although a more raunchy one. It goes in a late 60’s style and the Stones influence is pivotal. Vocally, Bailey sounds so much like Keith Richards it’s scary – brittle, fragile, cavernous and dishevelled, all of the above meant in a positive way. “Shore Of Light” is an elusive ballad that I find hard to grasp. It’s impeccable but it really never takes off and it fades fast from my memory. The uptempo, old-time rocker “Parliament Of Fools” comes with an almost funky touch and a really good 60’s pop feel and the “yeah, yeah, yeah” in the background brings up a more loose feel – great stuff. “Cosmic Aphrodite” takes a different turn when Irina D takes over the lead vocals and Bailey talk-sing in the background. It’s slow and trippy, floating and levitating, cozy and comfortable – and very atmospheric. This is some brilliant piece of work. “Patriotic Little Trash” that ends the album is rockier, but still on the slower side. The groove is big, it’s raw and naked and Lynne Jackaman’s vocals are – as usual – amazingly good – a really good way to close the album.
Musically, this is rock and roll for sure, but with a large input from both rhythm & blues and soul. It’s quite laid back with many mellow songs but there is also a whole lot of groove and rawness to it. There’s a big early 70’s Rolling Stones vibe all over the record and Bailey’s voice is easily compared to Keith Richards, very dark, deep, raspy and fragile, like it’s about to crumble at any second. One by one, almost all the songs are really awesome, but as the whole album goes in a slower pace, listening to it back to back, it has a tendency to get kind of samey which makes me wish for some more uptempo tracks. Also, if you’re thinking that you’ll get another Quireboys from Thirsty, you’ll be disappointed big time as there is nothing of the sort on this album. I really like this album and it’s nice to know that Bailey is back in business again, so welcome back!
1. The Albatross
4. Say It Ain’t So Joe
5. Black Hole
6. Beat Of Her Heart
7. Va Banque
8. Shore Of Light
9. Parliament Of Fools
10. Cosmic Aphrodite
11. Patriotic Little Trash