It was a bit of a surprise to find that The Quireboys were releasing a new album this year, seeing as they’ve recorded one every year since 2013, but here we have it, in the form of “Twisted Love”.
I’ve been a fan of the self-styled gypsy rockers since their conception in the 80’s, and despite the myriad of personnel changes the band have endured over the years, I’ve always stayed pretty faithful to them.
They hit the Rock Music scene in a massive way with their highly acclaimed album “A Bit of what you Fancy”, spawning several hit singles such as “There She Goes Again”, “Hey You”, “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and “7 o’clock”. Like so many bands of that era, they would always struggle to top their debut album, and unfortunately appeared to fall out of favour during the following years. A couple of their more recent releases have lacked a little substance, albeit the fairly consistent formula. I guess though, this formula must work, as they do lay claim to a very loyal fan base.
Unfortunately “Twisted Love” appears to lack direction a little, and the band hasn’t quite managed to emanate the superb chemistry that dominated their earlier releases. On a positive note though, the current line-up, which has been in place since 2013, sees the members coming together well as an outfit, strengthening them and allowing the band to churn out some of their best songs since “Beautiful Curse”. Songs like “Stroll On” and “Shotgun Way” sound like they could have come from their early 90s releases.
Meanwhile, tracks such as “Ghost Train” and “Breaking Rocks” are more akin to their more lacklustre albums of recent times. Still, this new album does have the traditional Quireboys sound rooted deep within its DNA. The duelling guitar sound of Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin is undoubtedly well established, and along with their quality backing vocals, tie in neatly with Keith Weir’s superb keyboard melodies. Title track “Twisted Love” also features blues powerhouse Lynne Jackaman on backing vocals, complementing Spike’s gravely tones perfectly, the sultriness lingering in the background yet notably obvious.
Then there’s “Gracie B”, originally from the previous acoustic-driven album “St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul”. It was given a full electric outing on their recent live outings, and it sounded really impressive. Re-worked for this album, it’s been transformed into a new beast of a tune.
Frontman Spike’s voice has noticeably weathered with age but it could be argued it sounds better for it in some ways. His renowned signature rasp sees him attack his vocals with the renewed energy of a vocalist half his age! Meanwhile the engine room of Dave McCluskey on drums coupled with Nick Mailing’s bass has helped propel the band to a new level of quality; the years of playing and recording together is obvious, something you can only get with a regular line-up. Dave’s drums feature more prominently on this album, maybe due to the harder edge Spike had promised this time around.
As before, the band have produced the album with Martin Ekelund of Bonafide and once again, he’s managed to get the best out of them. Promising “no ballads” this time around seemed like a weird prospect for a band like The Quireboys, especially when some of their best songs fall into that category, but at no point do you wish they’d drop a gear and include a sequel to “I Don’t Love You Anymore”. Their raucous sing-along anthems will always come to the forefront, and it’s easy to pick out which will be the live favourites.
There’s no band more deserving of their renaissance than The Quireboys. Churning out 4 albums in as many years, coupled with relentless touring schedules, this is a band you can never accuse of being lazy or turning in a bad performance. You’ll be hard-pushed to find a harder working band at this time, and long may they continue.
Torn and Frayed
Gracie B, Pt. 2
Life’s a Bitch