Just over thirty years ago Newcastle born singer Jonathan “Spike” Gray, having moved down to London, decided to start a band, eventually to be called The Quireboys, with his flatmate Guy Bailey, a guitar player. Joining them in the initial line-up were drummer Paul Hornby, pianist Chris Johnstone and bassist Nigel Mogg. Hornby was replaced by Nick Connell fairly early on, and Spike’s fellow geordie Ginger Wildheart was brought in as an additional guitar player.
By 1990 the band had appointed Sharon Osbourne as their manager, replaced Ginger with Guy Griffin and recorded their debut album “A Bit Of What You Fancy” for major label EMI. The album entered the UK charts at Number 2, and set the band up for a very successful couple of years with hit singles, supporting The Rolling Stones and appearing at the Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington.
As with many hard rock bands of their era, The Quireboys were badly affected by the appearance of grunge, meaning that their second album “Bitter Sweet & Twisted” was much less commercially successful than the debut and following it’s 1993 release the band called it a day.
Spike, Griffin and Mogg reconvened the band in 2001 with new members and released “This Is Rock ‘N’ Roll”, and current keyboardist Keith Weir and second guitarist Paul Guerin were on board for 2004’s “Well Oiled”. Since then the rhythm section on subsequent albums seems to have changed more than once and the band’s official line-up lists just Spike, Griffin, Weir and Guerin.
In 2009 the band released an acoustic recording of back catalogue numbers, “Halfpenny Dancer” which was critically acclaimed, and following another two electric albums, they decided to work on a successor to “Halfpenny Dancer” and record another set of tracks from their back catalogue, and some new tracks, in acoustic form.
Going to Lemon Studios in Klippan, Sweden, fully intending to do just that but found themselves on a different path when they discovered a variety of instruments to experiment with. Before they knew it they had ten brand new tracks and a great rootsy rock record on their hands.
At the end of March, the band released the resulting studio album, “St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul”, which was preceded by the “Gracie B” EP.
The Quireboys have an instantly recognisable sound, aided greatly by Spike’s distinctive smoky rasp. Sitting somewhere between the acoustic sound of “Halfpenny Dancer” and the rockier stuff of the rest of their catalogue, “St. Cecilia…” is for the most part fairly laid back, and the inclusion of instruments such as mandolin, dobro and lap steel adds to the rich flavour found on this record.
This is a really good album. It’s not in your face or brash but doesn’t wash over you either. Whilst it’s not all “good time rock ‘n’ roll” even the more reflective numbers are engaging and hugely enjoyable…
1. Gracie B / 2. Land Of My Father / 3. St. Cecilia / 4. The Promise / 5. Can’t Hide It Anymore / 6. Out Of Your Mind / 7. The Hurting Kind / 8. Adaline / 9. The Best Are Not Forgotten / 10. Why Did It Take So Long