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Tuesday 1 November 2022

The Spitfires: Play For Today a Retrospective Review...

The Spitfires are a band I've followed for a number of years now and they're no stranger to anyone who reads Move On Up. I first encountered them when they were a four-piece before the lineup change way back in around 2011. I remember their first gig as a three-piece in my hometown of Middlesbrough way back in 2014 and have seen them countless times since. I became good pals with the lads and the countless interviews, reviews, gigs and laughs along the way have helped make this site what it has become over the years. When I found out the band would be going their separate ways at the back end of last year it did leave a sour taste as they were one of the hardest-working, most-talented bands I'd had the pleasure of watching so many times. With the final gig announced (I was lucky to be in attendance) and with the last record released I thought it was about time I put pen to paper on a retrospective review...

"Play For Today" came as the second and final record the Spits released on Acid Jazz and once again the band were pushing in a whole new direction from the previous effort of "Life Worth Living". The Spitfires are grafters and real craftsmen when it comes to studio time and Billy's perfectionist nature comes across in the songs on this record. "Play For Today" is a proud final curtain call that the band deserved after years of commitment to the cause. It's a career culmination and a fucking good one at that! Opening with "Suburbia"a 22 second instrumental which ends with "Now for something a little bit different" brings a sense of intrigue and wonder to an album which was anticipated for some time prior to release. Dance-floor/suburban street stomper "Save Me" lifts off and doesn't stop, it's a groover with that added bite done in a much more subtle fashion from previous records. You could play it at 3AM in a club and it wouldn't feel out of place. These are the kind of tunes the band have become known for and certainly shrug off the lazy stereotype they've been pigeonholed with by lazy journos and news outlets alike...  

The record heads off on an electro-pop journey that Oakey and Gregory would be proud of. "Did You Have To Go?" is another highlight and one of those tracks you instantly connect with. Sullivan's vocal is smooth, direct and matured. Triumphant brass complements the dub groove that this track sits on. It's a foot tapper that has you going from the first bar, no time is wasted here! A culmination of the band's influences to date that's an advert for any doubter! "Reap What You Sow" is a final calling card for the record and pulls together the ingredients that have made the boys what they are over the years. In yer face and poignant with a message that relates to so many of the unsavoury characters you meet out and about. The electro theme which runs throughout the record complements the more trad guitar sound and Sullivan's sharp vocal which could cut through ice. Boss! A record I have played non-stop since its release and one that I'll definitely be spinning a few tracks off at future do's. 

Back in February when the lads played their final gig at the Electric Ballroom in Camden they let on afterwards that the gig was recorded and will feature no overdubs so offers an authentic experience to the listener. This comes in a stunning double LP in transparent orange vinyl singed by Billy. I've ordered mine so you really should cop yours, get it here! 


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger