2018 came and went without an album from The Quireboys. For most bands, it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow that a band went a year without releasing an album. For the self-styled gypsy rock and rollers, it’s a different story. However, Amazing Disgrace sees them come back out of the studio with this, their first recorded in Rockfield, their sixth in seven years and their first album of original material in almost three years after 2016’s Twisted Love.
A dozen albums in and if you’re a fan of The Quireboys, you know what to expect by now. It’s good-time rock and roll, there’s no other way to describe the music. Sure, over the years they’ve tinkered with their sound and found the wiggle room within their own confines in recent albums – the grungier and acoustic moments of St. Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul, the harder edge found on Twisted Love and then there’s the blues cover album, White Trash Blues.
So what of Amazing Disgrace? Essentially, this is them picking all the different elements through thirty years of albums and presenting it to show how diverse their unique sound is. Opening track “Original Black Eyed Son” (much like other song and album titles in their catalogue – this one harks back to their past releases) could have come straight from A Bit of What You Fancy with its keyed intro, it sparks the same reaction as the opening track of that album. “This Is It” takes a more Southern/country vibe to it with the same warmth of Homewreckers and Heartbreakers or carefree element of Bitter Sweet & Twisted and it’s this latter part which is where “Slave #1” would be right at home.
Meanwhile, “Sinner’s Serenade” and “California Blues” has the harder edge of This is Rock and Roll with their grittier sound. However, the band do incorporate their more modern albums into the equation with “Feels Like a Long Time” and “Slave #1” with a Beautiful Curse vibe to them. The acoustic and tender ballad of “Dancing in Paris” harkens back to Black Eyed Sons but its swells has hints of “Mona Lisa Smiled” (appropriately namechecked here) and whilst it’s not “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, it’s another great ballad in the band’s arsenal.
However, it’s lead single “Seven Deadly Sins” where the band have played their trump card. White Trash Blues aside, this could have been on any album which came before. And that’s the mark of a truly great Quireboys song. Meanwhile, the title track continues on from “Seven Deadly Sins” but decides to up the ante by another notch – this would be the perfect song to introduce a newcomer to the band. Modern production, raspy vocals from Spike, a catchy chorus which begs for audience participation, duelling guitars from Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin and some fantastic keys from Keith Weir.
Indeed, the title track is the perfect summation of the album as a whole. The band haven’t fucked with a formula that’s gained and retained fans for their long history, they’ve never had to. Amazing Disgrace isn’t necessarily going to change the minds of people who don’t like the band but it’s a great entry point for newcomers. As this album shows all the various shades their style of rock and roll can be, it’s an album which does a lot more than any other which came before.
What’s really served this album well is the fact it’s been given some room to breathe. With their creative purple patch of recent years, six albums in seven years isn’t something you hear of bands doing often. However, by leaving a couple of years between this and the last original album, they’ve ensured they’ve not over-saturated their own fanbase and indeed, proven that the well is far from dry.
The Quireboys don’t make bad albums. It’s a simple fact of life. They just make some albums which are better than others and sadly, this isn’t another A Bit of What You Fancy or Beautiful Curse. Instead, this is an album that needs several listens to reveal its secrets. And let’s be real, who listens to a Quireboys album only once? But at the end of the day, it’s more good-time rock and roll from the masters. And that can only be a good thing.
Header image by Bluethumb Photography