JUNE ALBUM OF THE MONTH
As the dark era of Covid and repeated waves of home lockdown finally draw to an end, here we have an album that, in substance and spirit, speaks for the difficult times we have lived through.
Once upon a time, album reviews were all about great production, big walls of sound, heavy plugging and all those computer tools that allowed bits of song or demo to be transformed into manufactured perfection and polished works of art.
Covid changed all that. Over the last six months, more and more I have been drawn to the album releases that stood as products of their time. Richard Jones’s home recordings for the ‘Marshall Chess’ project and the rugged edge of Cry For Mercy’s recent debut spoke of musicians showing open defiance to Covid restrictions, by finding a way to record and share music whatever the odds. And now, as we re-emerge from the dark lockdown tunnel, we perhaps have the album that embodies the heart and soul of real music in lockdown. Rugged, limited, imperfect – and yet powerful in its simplicity, sincere in its heart and beautiful in its truth.
The most simple and important truth of lockdown has been our connection to our families.
Spike recorded these songs on acoustic guitar for his mum. When I interviewed him during the first lockdown last year, Spike talked about popping in to check-in on his mum, making sure she had bread and milk in the house. His mum would often also ask her boy to get the acoustic guitar out and play her some songs. When I spoke with Spike again last month, he told me how he wasn’t able to visit his mum due to all the restrictions – so he decided to record her some of her favourite songs.
And here we have it. One-take recordings done in a single day – simply intended as a mix tape for his mum. It was later on that some of Spike’s friends suggested he release the songs on a limited-edition album – and his old friend Guy Bailey came up with the album name. And ‘Late Night Song Book’ does exactly what it says on the tin: Whether you enjoy the album with a late-night drink or take comfort from the songs whilst separated from love ones – here is the healing power of music in its simplest and most understated form to revive spirits at the end of a day.
From the man who brought us 7 O’clock and Sex Party, we now have ‘Over the Rainbow’, ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘Love Me Tender.’ Stripped back and in the moment, we have a collection of songs that speak for the limitations, restrictions and separation we have all had to endure – and yet also the enduring, universal power of music to keep us connected, loved and remembered.
Technically, this album doesn’t compete with June’s more commercially polished album releases – in terms of big production, complexity or hype but – for musical truth, Spike and his acoustic guitar tower over them all like a lion.
And with it, a lesson to the kids out there wanting a career in music. The real rock stars aren’t the ones chasing likes on social media or wanting to play stadiums. The real rock stars are the people that want to record songs for their mum, are the first out to play grassroots clubs – and who will happily have a giggle about ‘Edelweiss’ being included on the set list.
Spike’s Late Night Song Book, merch and gig tickets can be ordered at: https://www.spikequireboys.com
Listen again to my recent interview hour with Spike on the album and UK dates here
Following numerous requests, ‘Streets of London’ is playlisted through May and June on my Friday rock show, weekly 5-10pm.
Solo tour dates – an audience with Spike:
May 27 Newcastle, The Cluny & The Cluny 2
May 28 Chesterfield, Real Time Live
May 29 Cannock, The Station
May 30 London, The Cavern (3pm & 7pm)
June 3 Newcastle, The Cluny
June 5 Bedford, Esquires
June 6 Leicester, The Musician
June 18 Norwich, The Brickmakers
June 19 Bradford, Nightrain
June 26 Ballymena, Diamond Rock Club