The Quireboys: A Bit Of What You Fancy - Album Of The Week Club review

The Quireboys' debut album A Bit Of What You Fancy took the Stones and Faces template and used it to throw one helluva party

The Quireboys: A Bit Of What You Fancy
(Image: © Parlophone)

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The Quireboys: A Bit Of What You Fancy

The Quireboys: A Bit Of What You Fancy

(Image credit: Parlophone)

7 O'Clock
Man on the Loose
Whippin' Boy
Sex Party
Sweet Mary Ann
I Don't Love You Anymore
Hey You
Long Time Comin'
Roses & Rings
There She Goes Again
Take Me Home

The Quireboys flew to LA to record their debut album. And each time the doors to LA’s Cherokee Studios swung open, a stream of models and musos would drop by to hang out.

Tom Petty and Don Henley [Eagles drummer/vocalist] also came down,” singer Spike told us. “You’ve got no idea what it was like with so many famous people around. I asked this guy with long black hair: ‘What do you do, mate?’ He said he sang. I said: ‘Have you been doing it long, and do youse do well?’. He nodded. When I asked what his group was called, he said Journey. It was Steve Perry, and I’d never fucking heard of him!”

Titled A Bit Of What You Fancy, The Quireboys’ album peaked at No.2 in the UK chart following its release in February 1990, its sales stoked by three Top 40 singles (7 O’Clock, their signature Hey You, and I Don’t Love You Anymore). However, there remained a certain cynicism in sections of the British music press who weren’t out boozing with the band, with those writers mockingly referring to the group as the Rolling Quirefaces and suchlike.

“It was annoying. We weren’t the only band to have easily identifiable influences,” complained bassist Nigel Mogg. “Thunder were Bad Company and Free rolled into one, and they never took the stick we did. Of course we were surprised to have all those hits, but we were on a roll. The shows were great, so were the songs, and we also had the right manager and record company to make them work for us.”

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Other albums released in January 1990

  • Scumdogs of the Universe - GWAR
  • The Hit List - Joan Jett
  • Pale - Toad the Wet Sprocket
  • Stick It to Ya - Slaughter
  • Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors - Fish

What they said...

"A Little Bit of What You Fancy is a fine album indeed. Beautifully arranged, the album is brimming with classic rockers like 7 O'Clock, Man On The Loose, Hey You, as well as slower, more introspective workouts like I Don't Love You Anymore, Roses And Rings, and "could-have-been-a-Rod Stewart anthem" Sweet Mary Ann." (Allmusic)

"The Quireboys have stolen practically everything from The Stones and The Faces. The songs, the sound, the looks, you name it and you'll find it hidden within the sonic exploits of Spike & co. But what a record A Bit Of What You Fancy was and still is, for that matter. The spirit of the album, the lyrics and even the cover of the record spell fun, drinks and joy for all." (Rock Report)

"Exuberant, exciting and effortlessly cool, A Bit Of What You Fancy stands as a testament to the power of amplification and deserves a place in every self-respecting rockers home. Irrespective of whether you go for the original recording or this new one*, one truth emphatically remains: The Quireboys are rock ‘n’ roll." (Metal Planet Music)

*review of the re-recorded 30th Anniversary Edition, out now

What you said...

Alex Hayes: Back in April, one of the featured albums for the Classic Rock Album of the Week Club was Thunder's Backstreet Symphony. It was very warmly received in the main, our reviewers lavishing it with praise for it's classy, blues-rock leanings and well crafted songs. However, several of us also correctly pointed out that much of the early momentum that the album generated for Thunder would soon be derailed by a rapidly changing musical climate.

In many ways, Backstreet Symphony shares similarities with this week's choice, The Quireboys' A Bit Of What You Fancy.

Both were debut albums, released in the same year of 1990. That was a pretty exciting year for the British rock scene. A new wave of bands were starting to make serious progress, and Thunder and The Quireboys were at the vanguard of that movement. The critical reception to both albums was kind, and both bands picked up legions of fans very quickly. Both albums sold pretty well, and ended up boasting a handful of UK Top 40 hits. The two bands even opened the festivities together at that years Donington. For a year or so, the nascent careers of these two groups seemed to be in tandem, and the future looked bright. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the 90s themselves, that's what. We hadn't realised it yet, but the times they were a-changin'. Grunge and alternative rock were just around the corner, ready to brighten up all of our lives. The Quireboys' rootsy, good time rock'n'roll, not to mention those ballads laced with romantic lament, were about to become highly unfashionable. The Quireboys were never the types to swap their cowboy boots and bandanas for fucking flannel, and, sadly, the writing was on the wall. After just one more album, 1993's Bitter Sweet & Twisted, they bowed to the circumstances of the time and split.

It's an interesting album, Bitter Sweet & Twisted. It's a little over-long but still rollicking good quality. Listening to it today, you really get no sense of The Quireboys' imminent implosion. The music is upbeat, and the songs seamlessly pick up where A Bit Of What You Fancy left off. Which brings me to that first album.

In certain respects, I may well prefer A Bit Of What You Fancy to Backstreet Symphony. The Quireboys are so frequently compared to Rod Stewart and The Faces that its almost become cliche to do so. It's true though, and that blend of Stones-like swagger (7 O'Clock, Man On The Loose) and occasional sentimentality (I Don't Love You Anymore, Roses & Rings) really speaks to me.

Then there are all the associated memories. Any UK rock fan of a certain age will undoubtedly remember how popular Hey You was in the nation's rock clubs at the time. It certainly was in the first rock club I ever went to, a function room above a now defunct working men's club. I was 16 going on 17 at the time and it was a different world back then. A bit of nostalgic self-rumination like that almost seems apt for an album like this.

It's still a world that contains The Quireboys though. They reformed early in the new millennium and have never looked back since. I saw them live in Manchester with an old girlfriend sometime in 2004. I remember Geordie native Spike using the occasion to bemoan Wayne Rooney's recent decision to join Manchester United over his beloved Newcastle. Like I said in my Backstreet Symphony review, you can't keep a good band down.

A Bit Of What You Fancy comes highly recommended from me. That was never really in doubt was it? While I'm at it, so does Bitter Sweet & Twisted. Great albums, great band, and still rockin' to this day.

Paul Hutchings: Always dismissed them as being a poor copy of The Faces, Black Crowes etc but having seen them at Steelhouse festival recently there's no doubt they can still bring the party. Another spin reminded me that in the right mood, this is an album to bring big smiles. It's certainly of its time but there are some great fun songs which never fail to get people dancing. How can you fail to enjoy 7 O'Clock and Hey You?

Brian Anderson: Never listened to this before, and likely never will again. From the very first track all I wanted to do was give the singer a good hard slap on the back, saying ‘come on son, cough it out’. I found the vocals irritating and put-on, sounding like a pub singer trying to be Rod Stewart. A truly awful performance which overshadowed the whole album

Roland Bearne: When it comes to the Quireboys, I don't really have any objectivity, I just love 'em! Unfairly marketed along with the whole "Hair" thing, I mean, yes there were frilly shirts, plenty of velvet, makeup and pointy boots, but, as they said on the album of that name, "This is Rock 'n' Roll." 

To me Hey You is as essential to the rock'n'roll canon as, say, Jumpin' Jack Flash. One of the splendid things about this album is that there just isn't a duffer in the set and it's got great pacing. The potential "hits" weren't loaded up front. Hey You, for example kicks in at track number seven and There She Goes Again is even further down the order! 

Do they wear Faces, Stones, Aerosmith et al on their pin-striped sleeves? Hell yeah! But they are very definitely their own band. They absolutely reek of authenticity; can you imagine Spike popping down the shop for a pint of milk or Griff doing anything other than lounging around with a guitar surgically stitched on? The term "rock'n'roll gypsy" is more than somewhat overused, but when you think of the Quireboys, you just imagine them in some sort of van, heading to the next gig, be it a local boozer or Wembley, I don't think they care. 

It's what they do, and this album should have catapulted them straight up there with the greatest of the genre. To me they sit in that company anyway, and I've just ordered the re-record on blue vinyl. So there! Man on the loose... lets go!

Brian Carr: It was forever ago, but I first bought this one on cassette, likely after seeing a video for 7 O’clock. Unique voice and funky, honky tonk piano - it was very different than the majority of music I was into, but I absolutely loved the vibe and the songs are stellar. I like all of the tracks, but I Don’t Love You Anymore moves me every time I hear it. Thankfully I picked it up on CD somewhere along the way, too, because it’s another one that I could never find in the States on the streaming services.

It's not rocket science. The boys weren't reinventing the wheel with A Bit of What You Fancy, were they? There is neither high-art nor artifice here and the influences are obvious. This is the kind of nostalgia - fuelled, retro - rock that will always find an audience but done with buckets full of attitude that made it sound & feel fresh. A prime slice of sleaze, good time raunch'n'roll. 

This isn't an album to be listened to through your headphones while sitting in a darkened room. It's a party album to be played while you and your friends are enjoying the drink and the craic. 

And if you look, people will be almost unconsciously tapping their feet or nodding their heads along to the tunes. Every now and then someone will shout, "I love this one, turn it up!", followed by an impromptu sing-along, and you bet your life there will be some dance moves unleashed. And it will most probably be caused by the insanely catchy Hey You or the perennial live favourite 7 O'Clock, although there are other candidates here as well. It's that kind of album. 

But, then, The Quireboys are that kind of group. They never again got close to matching their debut in my opinion, but they were in their element live and they were always excellent. They still are, so if you've never caught them in the flesh, do your self a big favour and go see 'em if you get the chance.

Colin Bonney: A great album back then and still is. The 30th anniversary re-recording does it justice as well.

Pedro Castelhano: Amazing album. Somehow it sums up the spirit of those glorious hard rock years. Hey You was a hit here in Portugal.

Jacob Tannehill: Great debut album. These guys never got the fair shake that they should have, because they sounded nothing like what was going on in music at the time. They were marketed and lumped into the “hair bands”, and pretty certain that’s why they didn’t sell a lot of records. 

No one understood the Rod Stewart/Faces-type sound. I loved it from start to finish. Hey You is glorious and should have been a huge hit. Not one bad song, even Sex Party has a cool groove. Start to finish I give the album a 9, with no clunkers on the record. Shame they weren’t so much bigger.

John Davidson: Wow. Three songs in and this is already far better than I remembered.

I didn't take to the Rod Stewart vocal and the band's Faces/Aerosmith/Stones vibe at the time. There just wasn't room for them between Nevermind and Metallica. Think I'm going to enjoy re-evaluating this one.

Hai Kixmiller: Is it the Small Faces? Is it the Faces? Maybe it's the New Faces? Anyways, it sounds like Rod Stewart on vocals after a hard night of smokes and whiskey. Crafted with an abundance of ragtime boogie-woogie piano, foot tapping blues harp and brass horns, and topped off with fist pumping guitar licks, A Bit of What You Fancy is a grimoire of blue collar joys, pains, and other shared experiences. It'll make you laugh, make you cry, make you share a table with a stranger and after a few minutes you'll be raising a pint with a new found friend.

In my car, I'm tearing down the road, convertible top down, hot summer night blowing by, tach needle on the red line, rear-view mirror ripped off and thrown to the wind, 'cause nothing from the past or behind me matters. Racing against the daybreak and gaining on that horizon. Yeah, nothing like good music, man. Damn good music!

Mark Veitch: Cracking album full of good time rock'n'roll from beginning to end. An easy 8 out of 10 for me and gets a regular spin on a Friday night with a few drinks.

Steven G Thomas: It's aptly titled. I've never owed a Rod Stewart album in my life, but I wouldn't change the radio station when he was on, either. Starts off hokey with the piano but then starts to wam up about 3-4 songs in. Not a lot of what I fancy, but I don't hate it.

Iain Macaulay: I saw the Quireboys tour this album in The Venue in Edinburgh, either before or after it came out, can’t remember exactly. I quite enjoyed them back in the day, and I liked the album too. I can’t however say that I listened to it much after I saw them live. There was nothing wrong with them, in fact they were great. 

I even enjoyed being reacquainted with the album again now. Tapping my foot and singing along to all the tracks. It’s a real up-beat party album, even the slow songs. It’s well written, well arranged, well played and well produced. A fantastic effort for a debut album by any standard. There isn’t a bad track on it. 

And it still holds up. 7 O’clock, Sweet Mary Ann, Misled and Take Me Home being highlights. But, to be honest, I probably won’t listen to it again for a while. It’s just a bit too much a sum if it’s parts for me. And a bit too clean. But then, and here’s the irony, I’m a big fan of the Dogs D’amour, so go figure. A band inspired by a similar sound pool to that of the Quireboys, although coming across a lot dirtier and punkier, and using a much more poetic lyrical style. But hey, who knows, it’s after 7 O’clock so I could easily be misled and give it another spin.

Final Score: 7.52⁄10 (74 votes cast, with a total score of 557)

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