When It Bites broke up back in 1990, their hardcore fanbase were devastated, especially since they appeared to be on the brink of breaking through to the big time. Their clever mixture of instantly accessible music with superb musicianship and arrangements made them unique, especially in the drum-machine-obsessed 80's.
Fast forward to the 21st Century. Francis Dunnery now lives in the US, making attempts at a reunion very difficult. They tried, but it simply didn't work out. Enter John Mitchell, guitarist/vocalist with Arena, The Urbane, and Kino, which also featured the It Bites keyboard player, John Beck. One thing led to another, and John is now the front-man for the band, having proved himself more than worthy of the position during a short tour back in 2006.
And so, 19 years after their last album, we have The Tall Ships - and it is better than anyone had any right to expect. There is not one 'filler' track on the album, all of them justify their existence. They have produced an album which is recognisably It Bites, and yet doesn't slavishly copy the past. We still have the instant hooks ('Lights', 'Great Disasters'), the great musicianship ('Wind that shakes the Barley', 'This is England' - OK, let's be honest - all of them!), the quirkiness (vocal lines on 'Oh My God' & 'Great Disasters'), even a (nearly) straightforward rocker ('Ghosts'). Yet it all feels fresh - they are obviously fired up creatively, and the renewed enthusiasm comes across really well.
If you have any interest in It Bites whatsoever, you owe it to yourself to get this album - you will not be disappointed. If you've never heard of them before, this is as good a starting point as any, though all of their studio albums are excellent in their own way. And if you are thinking of NOT getting this album simply because Francis Dunnery isn't on it, then I suggest you may also want to cut your nose off to spite your face, at the same time!