More than just a reissue, 2021 finds lovable roustabouts The Quireboys revisiting their storied debut elpee and reshaping it for a new generation of fans to enjoy. And, against all the odds, they’ve made something that was almost perfect even better…

I must admit to having a few reservations when I heard the band were going to re-record their magnum opus – keystone members Nigel Mogg and Guy Bailey being long gone, for a start, not to mention the not insubstantial matter of frontman Spike’s vocal capabilities. Young Mister Gray‘s pipes have undoubtedly taken a battering over the years thanks to his rock n’roll lifestyle, and anyone who has seen the band live in recent times will attest to the way that his voice has changed. And yet, it’s that change that makes this grand reworking such an unmitigated success.

Spike v.2021 is a darker beast; still up for a sex party at seven o’clock, obviously, but, on the likes of Whipping Boy, I Don’t Love You Anymore and Roses and Rings he now really brings out the darkness and pathos of the lyrics and themes of the songs, whereas before they were merely hinted at. The big ballad I Don’t Love You…, especially benefits from this recapitulation, making it a towering piece of tear-jerking magnificence.

In fact towering is a good way to describe what’s going on here; Man On The Loose, There She Goes Again and the Hoopleesque Long Time Comin are all given new leases on life, and hopefully will draw in a whole new generation of fans if they get to hear them. A Bit of What You Fancy was a great album when it came out originally – but somehow the band’s decision to work at the time with Rod Stewart sideman Jim Cregan in a production capacity seemed to stymie the band’s creativity somewhat – now it has the look and feel of an absolute classic of bluesy British rock n’roll. Congratulations to all involved, both in the past and in the present.

A Bit of What You Fancy releases again on August 20th.