The Quireboys – Beautiful Curse (Off Yer Rocka Records)
Released July 1st
Seven albums in and still in love with rock’n’roll – Martin Haslam enjoys the new offering from The Quireboys.
There is a lot of guff written about many bands being ‘rock’n’roll’ nowadays. I like to give everyone a fair chance and a fair listen, but, frankly, very little out there constitutes rock n’ roll in a genuine, ‘in the bones’, committed sense. So, when The Quireboys release a new studio album, my ears are pricked and ready.
It’s been a few years since ‘Homewreckers And Heartbreakers’, but with a new label and management, the Boys are back with, if anything, a more balanced album. And with Chris Tsangarides producing, you can rest assured that it sounds just right; not too glossy, but classy all the same.
Kicking off with ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’, quite possibly vocalist Spike’s theme tune, the riff is part-Stones, part-Young brothers. Yes, Spike’s voice has a ‘lived-in’ quality now, and there’s a fine line between debauchery and raggedness, but this IS rock n’ roll. If The Stones had followed up ‘Doom And Gloom’ with this song, people would be rightfully shouting it’s praises.
‘Chain Smokin’ has another fine, snaking, sleazy tempo, though the lyric is simple at best. Then again, if you’re bopping around the lounge in yer slippers(just me then?), does this matter too much?
‘Talk Of The Town’ breezes along like an easy drive on a summer’s day with the windows down. Keith Weir’s keyboards give a melancholy edge to the middle-eight. There was a time when you’d hear these types of songs on the radio. Ho hum. I can hope.
‘Mother Mary’, for my tastes, should close the album, or at least side one. A sumptuous ballad, this is where Spike’s voice is best-suited. Tinged with regret, it could have been written by Ian Hunter and sung by Rod in his ‘Python Lee’ days. Yep, it’s that good.
‘King Of Fools’ is the kind of song that The Quireboys make sound simple; Chuck Berry double-stops with bar room keys that shout out ‘party!’ This is not easy to pull off, but they still have the knack of sounding like it’s done in one take with one eye on opening time.
‘Homewreckers And Heartbreakers’ packs a punch. One of their strongest songs, this should sound great live. Slide guitars and keyboards create an insistent groove, while Spike testifies over it all as only he can.
‘Diamonds And Dirty Stones’ does, indeed, sound somewhat Stonesy, from the times when Mick and Co. got funky. Praise must be given here to stand-in drummer Simon Hansen for providing rhythms to hang this all on. Sterling work, as rock and funk aren’t always good bedfellows; the swing of the drums and percussion allows room for the riffs to hang in mid-air before whipping back down.
‘Beautiful Curse’ starts with cow-bell and a swirl of organ, introducing what is likely to be an audience sing-along very soon. ‘This ain’t the end of the world, but I sure can see it from here…’ A chiming guitar melody married to an infectious chorus. Again, the Boys tip a hat to their influences, without losing sight of their own personality.
‘Don’t Fight It’ brings a world-weary, lighters-in-the-air ballad to the mix. Spike shows a deft touch here; it could easily be heavy-handed, but it’s tender and restrained. Yes, The Quireboys have been writing similar songs for some decades now, but that only makes it harder to produce something this special.
‘For Crying Out Loud’ takes us back to the party at full speed. Mucho Berryisms and, like the good man himself, this is infectious, good time rock n’ roll. Music to put a smile on your face. If it ain’t broke…
‘Twenty Seven Years’ slows the pace, expressing relief at avoiding the fates of Brian Jones, Janis Joplin et al. ‘Got the blues pounding through my head, but I’m never alone’. A reflective moment.
‘I Died Laughing’ ends the album with a mid-paced, summery feel. Understated, it shows that The Quireboys are using a broader palette than before without compromising their approach.
This far into their career, it’s fair to say that you either love this music or you don’t. It’s obvious to anyone with ears that The Quireboys are still in love with rock’n’roll, and, on this form, few do it better.
All words by Martin Haslam. More work by Martin on Louder Than War can be found here.