This just in from our friends at Rockfiend!!
35 years later and 12 studio albums on, no-one could have expected The Quireboys to be sounding this good. They shouldn’t, but they do.
‘Amazing Disgrace’ is the The Quireboys’ first album of original material in 3 years, and follows 2017’s well-received album of blues covers ‘White Trash Blues’. Released later than planned due to the well-documented problems with Pledge, ‘Amazing Disgrace’ finds The Quireboys cutting more loose than normal, pushing the boundaries of their trademark sound and very clearly enjoying themselves.
Album opener ‘Original Black Eyed Son’ signals their intent with their familiar sound embellished by horns, gospel-style female backing vocals and a guitar sound straight out of Texas, ZZ Top style. ‘Sinner Serenade’ is on more familiar territory, but again with the guitar work taken up a notch or two. And then the real fun begins. First single ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ continues the bar room boogie, but with an unexpected funkiness (yes, you did read funk on a Quireboys record) reminding me in places of both Grace Jones’s ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ and Wild Cherry’s ‘Play That Funky Music White Boy’.
I’ve been listening to The Quireboys since 1988 when I first heard ‘Mayfair’. ‘Appetite for Destruction’ had been released the year before, changing the face of rock music as we knew it and an array of American hair metal bands dominated the rock scene. Here in the UK, the NWOBHM had peaked and on to our TV screens burst a video by a then unknown band called ‘The Quireboys’ fronted by a cheeky Geordie (no, not Ginger … the other one). Fans will be familiar with The Faces and other comparisons, but they and their partners in crime, The Dogs D’Amour, offered something fresh at the time. Since then, The Quireboys have survived changing fortunes and musical tastes (including grunge), undergone a number of changes in personnel and experienced a resurgence in both popularity and form with a string of strong albums in recent years. At the risk of upsetting fans of their breakthrough first album, ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’, for me their current line-up (since around 2003) has been the strongest and most settled. Let’s dispense with formalities and surnames and just go for Spike, Guy, Keith and Paul. Others refer to John, Paul, George and Ringo, so why not? Forming their core, and one of the hardest working and touring bands in British music, they supplement their sound for full band albums and tours, and are joined on this album by Dave McCluskey on drums and Gary Ivin on bass.
As might be expected, the vocals, songwriting, musicianship and mix throughout are all of a very high standard. Continuing the album, title track ‘Amazing Disgrace’ and the lower-tempo ‘Eve of the Summertime’ provide instantly memorable sing-a-long-with-Spike’s before ‘California Blues’ finds the band extending and experimenting with their sound again and getting into Pete Townsend plays the Stones power chord territory.
Listening to the album, you can’t help but wonder if Guy, Keith and Paul’s moonlighting in the Down ‘n’ Outz (Joe Elliott’s Mott The Hoople and Ian Hunter side project) has influenced the mix of styles – particularly the mix of guitar sounds and keyboards which go well beyond the more familiar bar room tinkling with a range of piano, keyboard and, did I hear organ sounds straight out of the 70s (?), throughout. Or maybe they just thought, “let’s all bring our influences and have some fun”.
The pace drops again with the more familiar sounding ‘Halfpenny Dancer’-esque ‘This Is It’. ‘Feels Like a Long Time’, again featuring female soulful backing vocals, wouldn’t have sounded out of place on John Mellencamp’s ‘Scarecrow’ or ‘Lonesome Jubiiee’ albums; as a long-time fan of both, that is fine company to be in. The wall of sound returns in ‘Slave#1’. ‘Dancing in Paris’, with Spike’s emotional vocal delivery and some beautiful guitar work, is up there with any of their laid-back late night, sentimental drinking songs before the album draws to the close with the fiddle-led electric jig ‘Medusa My Girl’ of which Steve Earle or The Pogues might be proud, but which still manages to sound like a Quireboys song.
Contrary to expectations and a band of their vintage, Spike and the boys continue to defy the odds. Where some others artists of their generation have started to run out of ideas and experience a dip in the quality of their output, The Quireboys have somehow managed to maintain the quality of their material and in this case increase it. On paper, this shouldn’t be the case. But it is. This release is up there with ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’, ‘Homewreckers & Heartbreakers’, ‘Halfpenny Dancer” and ‘Beautiful Curse’.
Love them or loathe them, The Quireboys never disappoint. ‘Amazing Disgrace’ is a cracker of an album, finds The Quireboys at their very best and was made to be played loud. With it’s array of influences and styles it takes us on a joyous musical journey and stretches our idea of what a Quireboys album should sound like. It rocks, it’s got soul, it’s got funk and it’s got sass. It also sounds equally good both sober and after a few drinks, and has any number of songs which could deservedly take their place in their live set alongside old favourites.
Great job, guys. Glass raised.
As I might have said about some other new albums – buy it, don’t stream it – support bands to make a living and to keep making the music we and they love.
‘Amazing Disgrace’ will be released digitally on 5 April 2019 and on CD on 19 April 2019.