The Quireboys are one of the most unique and interesting classic hard rock bands to emerge from the late 80s/early 90s, at the tail end of that rock and roll scene. The British-based band won audiences over with their 1990 debut, A Bit of What You Fancy, combining glam and hard rock elements of the day with a more traditional classic rock sound. Often described as “The Faces meet Poison,” they have maintained a strong, loyal fanbase in numerous countries. The lineup has changed over the years but has always included vocalist Spike and guitarist Guy Griffin.
The group’s debut was by far their most popular album, but they persevered in varying incarnations over the years. Hard to believe, it has now been a quarter century since we got the A Bit of What You Fancy record! One of the major highlights of recent years was the Halfpenny Dancer record; more stripped down and largely acoustic. The change in direction was surprisingly well received by fans, and the group set out to record what could be construed as a stylistic sequel to that particular release.
St. Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul has arrived at long last. In addition to the newly recorded album, the group has opted to release the album as a four disc set, containing the new album on the first disc, a reissue of Halfpenny Dancer on the second, and a live album of Halfpenny Dancer songs on the latter two discs. How do the Quireboys fare on this, their latest studio record?
If you are only familiar with the band’s popular material from the A Bit of What You Fancy era, this album may come as a bit of a shock on the first listen. It is very different, almost in more of an adult contemporary direction compared to material from the band's old days. The songs on the album feature orchestral arrangements, piano, and acoustic stuff. Fairly short and to the point, Spike and company serve up some strong, mature songwriting, with many highlights through out this fairly concise release. The album is not going to replace A Bit of What You Fancy as the definitive Quireboys album, but it is a strong album that shows these guys are still capable of making great music, and that they can keep their sound fresh, rather than rehashing the same music for 25 years.
It is good to see the Quireboys are able to try new things musically, and still appeal to their fanbase. This collection of tunes shows that the band is still going strong, even after so much time passing by. You should not come in expecting this to sound like the band’s debut; it is a radically different kind of album. But if you give it a chance, you will be impressed. A strongly recommended release from one of England’s most criminally underrated bands, and the bonus Halfpenny Dancer/Halfpenny Live material is all the more reason to purchase!