Another year, another album from The Quireboys. I don’t think many could have predicted with the release of Beautiful Curse, it would have spurned them to become incredibly prolific between constant tours. Yet here we are. So what we’ve been given this time around isn’t a dozen or so tracks of rock goodness in their unique style but instead, an album of blues covers.
And if The Quireboys are releasing such an album, there really is only one title for it: White Trash Blues. Given there’s always been an ever-present blues influence in their music, it’s only fitting they go all out by paying tribute to a host of classics. And it actually begs the question: what took them so long?
There’s been a great deal of care and attention poured into these songs and for that extra authenticity, drafting in Pearl Handled Revolver’s Lee Vernon for harmonica. This isn’t a set of songs moulded into The Quireboys’ inimitable sound. Instead, they’ve lovingly re-created them to breathe new life into the decades-old originals. However, they have been tinkered with in some areas and then there’s the most notable change to the songs with Spike’s voice.
As ever, he’s in fine form, and much like his contemporary in Danny Bowes, he puts vocalists half his age to shame. Years of smoking and gallons of cider have only improved his unique tones. Here, though, with the backdrop of blues, his rasp is further enhanced as if he’s finally able to let loose.
As for the tracklist, what can you expect? For starters, John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”, Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Cross Eyed Cat”, “Take Out Some Insurance” by Jimmy Reed and Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie”. It’s an album full of blues standards from artists you’d expect whilst not picking the most obvious songs in some cases. Always a welcome thing when choosing to cover an artist.
However, whilst all the songs are simply The Quireboys lending their respective talents to songs, “Walking the Dog” (Rufus Thomas) and the intro to the aforementioned “Little Queenie” could have come from The Quireboys in the 90s. These ones have been bent slightly to sound more like what you’d expect from them and it’s a great way to round out the album.
Meanwhile as Spike’s right hand Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin trade bluesy licks on their guitars, long-time keys player Keith Weir gets the chance to fully unleash his own talents. With these songs having a stronger emphasis in this area, you get the impression he is relishing the opportunity to go all out. Alongside that, the rhythm powerhouse duo of drummer Dave McCluskey and Nick Mailing proves they’re just getting better with every passing year as they further ingrain themselves into the band and putting in their best recorded performances to date.
If you like old school blues, White Trash Blues doesn’t reinvent a set of blues classics nor is it the sort of album you use to introduce a newcomer to The Quireboys. What it does, very successfully, is give these old songs a fresh coat of paint. If you’ve been getting weary of their constant releases, this should act as a great buffer. More songs (despite not being originals) from The Quireboys is never a bad thing and if anything, makes you that ever bit more eager for the inevitable new album next year.
Header image by Tom Gold
White Trash Blues is released on 5th September