I love the radio. Always have, since I was a kid. By the time I was 12 the highlight of my week was listening to The Friday Rock Show (RIP Tommy Vance) on the radio my gran (RIP Gran) had bought me. Good grief, the bands he introduced me to. Alice Cooper, Acca Dacca (he always called them that) then the great British bands, like Thunder, The Almighty, The Little Angels.
But there was one more: The Quireboys.
In 1990 as a 14-year-old kid I didn’t know they sounded like The Faces, I didn’t know The Faces, but I did know that I loved The Quireboys, I know that I still do, and I still look on Spike – the bands irascible, gravel throated singer as the type of naughty uncle that gave you porn when your mum and dad were out (I never had any uncle like this to be fair, but I should’ve) but he couldn’t half write tunes.
As always with these tenth anniversary things, they’ve given this a few bonus tracks at the end. Some live stuff from their 30th anniversary gig and Spike offers this before “Homewreckers And Heartbreakers” (which never made this album, but really needed to.
“We’re gonna play yer some old songs, some new, all borrowed….so here we gan….” And if you read that in a slightly drunk Geordie accent, then fair play to you, you really should have.
That is basically The Quireboys, simple as that.
I remember buying this album the day it came out in 2008, I went into HMV on my way home from work and pushed play in my car. I can honestly recall the feeling of “I Love This Dirty Town” kicking off and thinking “my boys are back….”.
After reforming in 2001 this was the first time I thought that. It wasn’t that “This Is Rock N Roll” or “Well Oiled” were bad records, either. It’s just this one was ace. The condemnation of TV preachers that is “Louder” was just The Stones done right by this point, in my early 30s I knew that this sound wasn’t new) “Hello” was one of them drunken country songs they did so well – my love for Country is genuinely down to The Quireboys “Sweet Mary Ann” from their debut, and they were prepared to stretch themselves too, the seven minute “Blackwater” took them to places they just never had gone before.
There was one of those cracked, troubadour ballads that Spike was made for too. “Late Night Saturday Call” is perfect for when it is 3am and you need….something. Spike knows, you see.
That song has a little more significance to me personally than it should, maybe, but proof that the boys aren’t just there for the bad things in life comes in the hedonistic closer “Josephine” which hides its message in amongst the most rock n roll sound you can possibly imagine.
That all being said, there is one song on here that towers above the others – and it’s the one you can still hear at just about every show they play still. “Mona Lisa Smiled”. I’ve never written a brilliant song, obviously, but I am assuming everyone here knew it as soon as they’d finished. Whatever, if Spike has ever written a better set of lyrics, then I’ve never heard them.
A few weeks ago I reviewed another album that came out in 2008 and another album that got the ten-year treatment. I said then that Gaslight Anthem’s “The ’59 Sound” was one of my favourites of all time – well, The Quireboys have one in my all time top 10 (their debut, natch) and one that won Album of the Year on this site in 2016, this though is a hell of a close third.
Even after all this time, it – and Spike who never looks any different – hasn’t aged. “Homewreckers And Heartbreakers” was glorious in 2008 and it is absolutely glorious right here. So if you ain’t got it, gan doon and get the thing, yeah?
HOMEWRECKERS AND HEATBREAKERS IS RELEASED ON 3RD SEPTEMBER