SEPTEMBER ALBUM OF THE MONTH
It’s the blues people – but not quite as you know it. In the same fashion as The Quireboys confidently strode on to the Blues stage at Ramblin’ Man Fair and knocked the ball out the park in front of a full house, so here we have the follow-up to that event – a masterful album of classic blues tracks re-worked and recreated with the signature Quireboys character, sound and their live studio feel. As an album, it’s a masterstroke in being a complete change of direction yet, at the same time, the tracks in their new form feel like they could only be Quireboys songs.
Covers albums so often disappoint or the tracks often fail to live up to the originals. Here, The Quireboys have taken a collection of songs from their heroes and given them the Quireboys treatment. The result is an album that is almost impossible to dislike. Whether you listen to it whilst cooking, doing the Sunday ironing, in the car stuck in a traffic jam, or late one evening with a drink in hand -this album will effortlessly pull you in. It’s music that instinctively demands a reaction.
The album comes at a time when the band is on a creative high and enjoying a new lease of life with their label OffYerRocka: their last 4-5 albums regarded by many as among their best. Here is a band not resting on its greatest hits archive, but relentlessly touring and recording material with a frequency that few young bands could match. The new blues album benefits from coming at a time when it’s fair to say whatever the band turned their hand to would probably work and garner critical and audience acclaim. This feeling of confidence combined with the band being comfortable who they and with nothing to prove, shines through emphatically on ’White Trash Blues’.
I spoke with Spike in April and July – when the band was planning the album and then just before their blues set at Ramblin’ Man. What was unmistakable from these interviews was the sense of excitement among the band about revisiting the music of their heroes – and for Spike revisiting some of his solo blues projects. The band’s roots have a strong natural connection with British blues and this album represents a nod to their influences.
‘Cross Eyed Cat’ opens the album and sets the stall out on the relentless hour of music that’s to come: signature dirty guitar riffs, a tight rhythm section and an animated performance from Spike. On keys, Keith Weir really shines throughout the album.
Next up is ‘Boom Boom’- a standout from the band’s Ramblin’ Man live set and one has a sense this track could well sit well as a regular fixture in The Quireboys live sets and could become a new fan favourite. On the album, the song is full of bounce and vigour and – like so many tracks on the album – it plays well to Spike’s unique vocal.
‘Take Out Some Insurance’ was an instant listener favourite on my Friday rock show, gaining calls for repeat plays and – on the back of this – a play listing over three consecutive weeks. The track boasts an immediately arresting groove and chorus that makes it feel like a Quireboys-penned classic, as could be the case with the single from the album ‘Leaving Trunk.’
The intensity of ‘Going Down,’ the cool and atmospheric ‘Help Me,’ the raw edge of ‘Shame Shame Shame’ and the swagger of ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man’ – a track-by-track review of this album somewhat overlooks the elephant in the room. This is one of those albums that should be enjoyed as a body of work, rather than just as a collection of individual tunes. Overall, the album has a character and captures a mood: it’s music that feels real, natural, and alive and coveys a real sense of fun the way rock n roll – and the blues – should be.
Over the 12 tracks on ‘White Trash Blues’ there’s good range of music – some up-tempo energy tracks that push the blues towards the Quireboys dirty roll n roll space, balanced with classic laid black blues numbers. On this album they’re equally arresting.
As with ‘Twisted Love,’ the band once again captures a live sound to their studio recordings – the combination of the talents of a tight touring band with the bandmembers being totally comfortable playing the way they play and instinctively knowing how to work together. This creates an assured, confident and natural studio sound that is powerful and arresting in equal measure.
By the time you get to the album closers ‘I’m A King Bee’, ‘Walking The Dog’ and ‘Little Queenie’, a perfect song to end the album, you’ll probably have poured yourself a nice drink and be in the mood to play the album all over again. Just like a Quireboys live show, this album will just pull you in. it’s very hard not to react to it.
Summer will soon be over – but in ‘White Trash Blues’ we have the perfect antidote to keep spirits up during the autumn months. And as will great blues, it’s all about the feel and mood of the music. And to this end, this review doesn’t need any more words – ‘White Trash Blues’ is an album that needs to be heard. Make sure you play it loud, but before you do….take out some insurance!
White Trash Blues is released on 8 September 2017. You can pre-order here
Listen again to my two radio interviews with Spike talking about the album: