Back in 1992, Thunder released ‘Laughing on Judgement Day’, which for me remains an all-time classic. It got me through a real crossroads in my life but, more than that, it poised Thunder for world domination.
And then, bloody grunge came along and ruined the whole party.
Thunder – All The Right Noises (BMG)
Release Date: 12 March 2021
Words: Mark Rotherham
Those times were a real test of character for many Heavy Metal bands, but Thunder have weathered that and every other storm since, and now they have returned to record decks, CD players, download playlists (but not cassette anymore) like they have never been away.
Their new album ‘All the Right Noises’ kicks off with ‘Last One Out Turn Off The Lights’. It has got all the Thunder ingredients that we know and love. It has that upbeat tempo, the dirty guitar and Danny Bowes’ gravelly voice which has not changed since I first saw them play live in 1990.
But don’t be fooled that it is all party time, as the lyrics are deeper, darker and more introspective than you would think, but all backed up with a good time beat.
And you know what, it works. But this is Thunder. It has always worked. Social observation with a stonking good, super-catchy tune and strangely weird high-pitched solo. Who says revolution can not be fun? Only Thunder could sing about Brexit and make it enjoyable.
And then the curve balls arrive. ‘Destruction’ has a slow-hand Tennessee blues feel and Danny Bowes shows off his vocal versatility. Heard one Thunder song and you have heard them all? I don’t think so. This track throws all of the rules out of the window. It is familiar and new territory all in one wrapper and the winners are you, me and everyone else who is listening.
The blues influence continues, but even more so with ‘The Smoking Gun’, with moody acoustic lines and beautiful, descriptive lyrics, lyrics that you could apply to so many things, people, situations. But isn’t it that very thing that marks out great music? No arguments from me.
‘Going to Sin City’ is more familiar musical territory, with its slicing riff that reminds me of early AC/DC. But Bowes’ unique voice is an influence all of its own, and is that a horns section as well? These boys have definitely done their homework during the lockdown and when Thunder get unleashed live, I am hoping and praying this song makes it to the setlist.
The dark lyrical message mixed with party style music continues with ‘Don’t Forget to Live Before You Die’, with real brooding warning words imploring us all to get those good times in before it is all taken away. The riff is just so catchy, but then why should we be surprised, it is one of Thunder’s many specialities. It is slow, fast, slow, voicebox Blues and Metal all in one song and it all hits you like a sledgehammer right between your eyes.
Now, ballads and Metal bands, hmm. Well, it is the music business after all and sadly not just music, so I guess they are part of the landscape. ‘I’ll Be The One’ is the obligatory offering on this album and while I am not a huge fan of them, this is not bad. The piano is kept in the background and at least there is some credible guitar going on and a very pleasant solo. If you like your ballads, this will probably push all the right buttons.
Normal service is resumed with ‘Young Man’, which kicks you right in the guts with a chugging riff and tells us about the invincibility of youth, even though Danny tells us he would not go back to those days. And there is an amazingly addictive keyboard, yes, keyboard backing riff on this song that will having you tapping your feet until doomsday.
‘You’re Gonna Be My Girl’ is classic Thunder, a nice catchy tune and lyrics that attach themselves to many Thunder songs, but reminds me very forcefully of ‘Everybody Wants Her’. Every band does what every bands does and that is why we gravitate towards them and songs like ‘You’re Gonna Be My Girl’ is what Thunder does and they do it very well.
And then, just when you think it is all formula, ‘St George’s Day’ comes along, which is a searing social observation about immigration, combining sensitive lyrics and hard edged riffing. This will make uncomfortable listening for some perhaps, but hey, if U2 can make a whole career on the back of their politics, if the Stones can write a song called ‘Sweet Neo Con’, then Thunder can sure as hell wade into that debate as well, and they do a damn good job at it.
Fans will observe that this is nothing new for Thunder. Sure, they is good times and partying, but that is not all there is to them and this song tells you that, loud and clear.
And it does not stop there. ‘Force Of Nature’ is a slam-dunk fireball swing at a certain fake-tan politician from across the pond. But Thunder, and some might say only Thunder, can deliver that message alongside upbeat and massively addictive musicianship.
The album’s last song, ‘She’s A Millionairess’ is another traditional Thunder song about a beautiful, unattainable woman that we would all love to know, but she is in complete control of her destiny and we know we will never stand a chance. And at the same time, the social observations are never far away.
Thunder have retained their good time approach to their music, but they have grown and matured over the years and their lyrics on this album reflect that.
An Englishman on Holiday has returned home, gone to the OU and got a degree.
Thunders new album is called ‘All The Right Noises’ and that is exactly what it gives you.
1. Last One Out Turn Off The Lights
3. The Smoking Gun
4. Going To Sin City
5. Don’t Forget To Live Before You Die
6. I’ll Be The One
7. Young Man
8. You’re Gonna Be My Girl
9. St George’s Day
10. Force Of Nature
11. She’s A Millionairess