Bitter Sweet and Twisted

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Following the worldwide triumph and U.S. washout of A Bit of What You Fancy, the London Quireboys had a lot to own up to on their second full-fledged studio effort, Bitter Sweet & Twisted. Originally conceived as a double album, Bitter Sweet & Twisted saw the band hightailing it all over to world to assemble the release. Not only was producer Bob Rock's studio in Vancouver used, but the band also tracked in London and Hawaii and even switch-hit producers, hiring Chris Kimsey for a couple of songs. If the band's debut album held the promise of things to come, Bitter Sweet & Twisted is something of an anticlimax on every front. The opening triumvirate of "Tramps and Thieves," "White Thrash Blues," and "Can't Park Here" all bode well. Things then go from bad to OK to just plain bad again from here on out. A Jim Vallance ballad, the fourth track "King of New York" is a poor man's version of "You Don't Love Me Anymore." Luckily, "Wild, Wild, Wild" (produced by Kimsey and erroneously credited as track five) is classic Quireboys. Tragicomic lyrics decry how some broad drank all of Spike's beer; this track showcases what the band does best -- emulating the Faces. "No Need to Shout" is "Mandolin Wind" by Rod Stewart; unfortunately, "Debbie" is just plain rubbish. Probably a good idea on paper, the cut is an ill-conceived ripoff of Joe Cocker's sexy "You Can Leave Your Hat On." The problem lies not only in Bob Rock's naff arena rock production, but also in the band's clich├ęd arrangement, which kills the tongue-in-cheek approach dead on arrival. Another Chris Kimsey track, "Ode to You (Baby Just Walk" (again miscredited as track eight instead of number nine) sounds just plain weak with its hilariously misplaced Bon Scott meets Stevie Ray Vaughan at a Free pool party type feel. "Hates to Please" sees the band treading dangerous Eagles territory of the bland "Take It Easy" kind. "My Saint Jude" is subpar Cult. Inexplicably, Bitter Sweet & Twisted features only 12 cuts as opposed to the 14 credited on the CD and sleeve -- surely a manufacturing snafu and embarrassment. Isn't it fitting, then, that the band would go down in a Spinal Tap-type misappropriation of actual album tracks? Like much the material on the record itself, anticlimatic at best.

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