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Thursday, July 24, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Hey you! Listen up to the gospel of rock 'n' roll delivered by The Quireboys on Black Eyed Sons

Delivering the rockin' gospel, The Quireboys turn in
triple feast on Black Eyed Sons release

FOR a moment picture a scene: it's a ballroom in a hotel; midnight is imminent. Languishing around tables couples get together or break up. The round tables are filled with half empty glasses of booze.

The men have loosened their bow ties and the women have kicked off their high heels.

At the front a wild-eyed gypsy singer is delivering odes to heartbreak and lullabies of love. The people in the ballroom begin to move to the front, some signing along, some entranced by the sounds of blues and songs of beauty. And, then as midnight strikes the audience gets a second breath, the energy surge from the Black Eye Sons kicks into high rock 'n' roll.

This, readers, is the scene that could encapsulate the mood evoked by The Quireboys on their Black Eyed Sons album. From What Do You Want From Me and Julieanne, through to the hard rockin' statement that is the album opener Troublemaker (Black Eyed Sons).

This an album for ballrooms, balmy summer nights by the sea, an album when played live will have sweat dripping down the walls and cheers raised loud.

Spike's voice has, as always, produced an evocative, lightly gravelled tone: angst, heartache and joy all delivered from a larynx and vocal chords that were bestowed on him by some strange quirk of rock 'n' roll fate.

Guy Griffin captures the mood of each track, whether it is an acoustic romp, pained solos, well timed riffs, mirrored by Paul Guerin's literal ownership of tone and tempo, with added flourish and flair that is both to the fore and at time appropriately restrained in the mix to allow each song to evolve. No doubt producer Chris Tsangarides had a hand in this balance.

But the band also have an ace card now in the shape of Northern Ireland's own Keith Weir, who adds the luscious keyboard background to tracks, but also can unleash full on honky tonk blues such as the rolls on You Never Can Tell.

Thirty years on and the band are still fresh in sound; never mind the road wearied looks.

“I’ve always felt like I’m 30-years-old,” said Spike. “So this is our time. And I’d just like to raise a toast to the next 30 years.”

Never one to shy away from a gargle, Spike can also do something special such as the delicate closing tracks Mothers Ruin and Monte Cassino (Lady Lane). Simply stunning ballads, careful song structures working to capture the lyrics Spike delivers with aplomb.

"Well I left my heart in a letter, at the tree where we first kissed Lady Lane I hope you'll never read" 

Thirty years? A landmark sure, but more importantly this is not some retro lame ass shtick: this is a band right up to date; it's just the world hasn't caught up with The Quireboys quiet revolution.

Is this a worthy release to follow the awesome Beautiful Curse album?  Yes.

For those who want the whole deal the top line release is packaged alongside a CD of The Quireboys’ main stage acoustic set at 2013’s Sweden Rock festival – in front of 40,000 fans – and a live 7 CAM shot DVD featuring the London leg of last year’s Beautiful Curse tour.

That live CD alone is worth spending that bit extra as a congenial band deliver to a congenial audience acoustic renditions of the likes of There She Goes Again, Devil of a Man, Sweet Mary Anne and 7 o'clock.

Review by Jonny
Black Eyed Sons is out now on Off Yer Rocka Recordings
The Quireboys play Belfast's Limelight2 on November 21st, with guests the Vargas Blues Band. Tickets are £16 and available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets.

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