The Quireboys - Black Eyed SonsBlimey – is it Christmas already?! It will certainly feel that way for fans of The Quireboys with this bumper release of product from Spike and the boys. A new album, a selection of live acoustic tracks and a live DVD? You’re spoiling us…

‘Troublemaker (Black Eyed Son)’ is a very promising start, the band at their feistiest, all needling guitars and crashing beats – the usual bonhomie swapped for something a little more malicious. Quality control remains high over the next two tracks, both ‘What Do You Want From Me’ (with fabulous work from Keith Weir on keys) and ‘Julianne’ full of the sort of bittersweet bar room lamentations this band can do so well. Like so much of previous album “Beautiful Curse”, these tracks are good enough to be radio hits if someone would only give them airplay. I have to admit, though, I find the rest of the album less convincing.

Worth a listen is ‘Lullaby of London Town’, a funky little tale of metropolitan glamour and squalor, and is probably the soundtrack to the bands life, which benefits from not being quite so chorus heavy. It reminds me of Gun‘s last album actually, as does ‘You Never Can Tell’. The rest of the tracks hold no surprises and feel like inferior copies of their (or The Faces‘) previous works.

What initially seemed a weird idea to me of The Quireboys reigning in the classic rock n’ roll power of their live sets to perform acoustically turns out to have been a qualified success. Whilst I’m not particularly a fan of live albums, the charisma of the band and the songs themselves seem undiminished by being ‘unplugged’. This disc, like so many live albums, is marred by the editing – jumping from song to song, performance to performance, losing any sense of occasion. There’s nothing wrong with the songs; in fact, you almost instantly forget about the acoustic format as it’s still The Quireboy with good times and drunken sing-a-longs assured. Despite the strength of their back catalogue, though, it is the very earliest material that seems to work best, with ‘There She Goes Again’ and ‘Roses and Rings’ being the pick of the bunch here. Overall, though, the second disc is a treat from beginning to end and is the perfect soundtrack to your first beer after getting home from work, sat on your patio with the weekend ahead of you.

I was at the gig at Islington Academy filmed for posterity on this new live DVD, and you can see my review of the night here. So what have I learnt from re-living it stone cold sober on a Sunday morning? Not a lot to be honest, although I can now confirm that Spike was definitely having as much fun as I was, the grin never leaving his cheeky mush for the whole night. It’s shot and edited beautifully, the camera work not too busy and not too static, allowing you the best seat in the house whilst avoiding long and lingering shots up anybody’s nostrils. It’s a lovely memento of the night for me and would work equally well without the visuals, such is the strength of the set-list.

The Quireboys – Official site