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Music Review: Thunder – Bang!

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Why is it that UK band Thunder aren't given more airplay on daytime radio? It is a mystery to many, including the band themselves. As a result they launch their latest album Bang! with a timely response to those they consider responsible.

The opening track, "On The Radio",  is deliberately ironic. If anyone at a radio station actually wants to put the situation right by finally playing a Thunder song, they can't choose this one. The line before the guitar solo emphatically puts an end to that idea. The good news is there are plenty of other possibilities to choose from on this excellent album.

Formed back in 1989 from the remnants of Terraplane, Thunder quickly moved up from the pub and club scene to festivals and stadiums. Their debut album Backstreet Symphony remains as effective today as it was on its release. It also provided Thunder with breakthrough sales in the States partly due to the success of the single “Dirty Love”.

Their second album Laughing On Judgement Day shot straight into second spot in the UK album charts. By 1995 they were opening for Bon Jovi throughout the European leg of their tour. In all, and despite the aforementioned lack of daytime airplay, Thunder racked up an impressive 18 Top 40 singles in 10 years.

However by 2000 they had seemingly run out of steam. Refreshed, following a two year interlude, they announced their return by releasing the impressive albums Shooting At The Sun, The Magnificent Seventh, and Robert Johnson's Tombstone.

This latest release, Bang! stands as a superb addition to their long and rich heritage. Released on Frontiers Records the album is the work of a band who have thankfully maintained their hunger using it to produce some of their best music yet.

Thunder are guitarist Luke Morley, bass player Chris Childs, the irrepressible 'Harry' James on drums, the keys and additional guitar skills of Ben Matthews, and the vocals of Danny Bowes. 

Bang! was recorded in Walton Castle in the west of England. The impressive old building came complete with two foot thick solid walls, and numerous rooms of all shapes and sizes. It proved to be acoustically perfect. So much so that Luke Morley describes Bang! as their best sounding album ever.

They locked themselves inside the castle for three months working out the tracks that now form the new album. It is clear that a great deal of love, belief, and attention to detail has gone into its making.

There is not so much as a splutter or misfire anywhere in sight. Despite delivering constantly high quality blues-rock for nearly twenty years they have come up with an album that still manages to sound fresh, positive, and relevant.

There are future Thunder classics on here, live set additions, anthems, choruses, and riffs to please us all. “Stormwater” is one of those anthems containing just a hint of Zeppelin's "Celebration Day" in the riff. “Carol Ann”, is superb in every delicious detail. “Retribution” opens gently into a soothing ballad.

“Candy Man” has Harry's drums thundering in over a Faces' “Stay With Me” style guitar. “Have Mercy” eases it back before finally opening out into something quite brilliant. “Watching Over You” is a beautifully written ballad with a chorus that refuses to fade from the mind. Harry shakes it up again on “Miracle Man” alongside a riff that must have rocked the very foundations of that castle.

“Turn Left At California” is a highly effective sidestep that leads nicely into “Love Sucks”. “One Bullet” is a sad indictment of today’s violent times.

Thunder have done it again and returned to a position of total strength with a display of mature class. If you like excellent blues-based classic rock delivered by a band that squeeze every drop from their collective talents, then this one is for you.

If this is what comes out of being locked in a castle for three months, please don’t let anyone rescue them. Bang! is quite simply a triumphant album.

Catch up with all the latest news from the band by visiting Thunder's official website or MySpace profile.

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About Jeff Perkins