Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spike

It's A Treat To Be Alive
Demolition

Stage-shuffling Quireboys frontman Spike knocked out a few solo records in the years between their mid-nineties demise and their reformation a few years back, but perhaps none as complete as this. As with the 'boys output since their 3/4 length masterpiece of a debut there's some workaday jam-a-thons elevated above by the man's ever astonishing rasp. Forget age-old, charity shop bargain basement comparisons to Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker, it's a voice more agile and soulful that can imbue fresh feeling and meaning into occasionally trite and clich├ęd lyrics, as the best vocalists can, and those two once did so well.

For the odd pub-rock plod like Rise Above there's wonderful bleary-eyed gritty grouse-abouts like Wins, Ties and Losses andWon't Ya Stick Around, and, acefully, where the Quireboys raucous bar-room swagger undeniably holds sway to The Faces, the late night, last chance balladry here on Have A Drink With Me, Without You and When I'm Away From You recalls more the heart laid bare elegance of Ronnie Lane than Rod's laddish posturing, and summed up on So Far So Good, all shot through with the hard-knocked humour belied by the word 'treat' in the title. I mean, you can almost replace it with 'champion'. Likewise in a humourous though heartfelt aside on True Friends he goes into What Happened To You?- the theme from Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads - in a lovely, lilting nod to his North-East roots.

-Stu Gibson

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