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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Thunder - 1980 Thunder
Thunder - 1980 Thunder

ARTIST: Thunder (USA)
ALBUM: Thunder
SERIAL: SD 38-129
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2006, Wounded Bird, WOU129


LINEUP: John Porter McMeans - lead vocals, electric & acoustic guitars * Mo West - electric & slide guitars, synthesizer * Chopper Anderson - bass, background vocals * Tris Imboden - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Easy Street * 02 Late Last Night * 03 I'm Alright * 04 Last Love Song * 05 Last Train To Paradise * 06 All Night Long * 07 Service With A Smile * 08 Santiago Midnight Moonlight * 09 Magazine Love * 10 Rock And Roll Wasteland

We've covered both the sophomore Thunder album 'Headphones For Cows' released in 1981 and lead vocalist John Porter McMeans 1991 solo 'Vigilante Man' so I suppose it was only a matter of time before we closed the deal on the Thunder debut. Released in 1980, I passed over the record for at least two or three years due to the sleeves rather generic look and song titles that were a little too cheesy to be taken seriously. Pretty much the same reason I passed over 'Headphones For Cows' although why I eventually picked up both I can't remember? Fluid cash flow maybe, drunk perhaps? Who knows and who cares but I was mildly surprised although not totally bowled over with both and downright stunned when they were reissued on CD by Wounded Bird a few years ago.

The Songs
Even in digital I still think Thunder were fairly average, kind of a cross between The Doobie Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Jeff Pollard era Le Roux without the material. The highlight is of course John Porter McMeans warm vocal style which alternately blends Orleans Larry Hoppen with ARS's Ronnie Hammond although digging into the albums ten tracks; it's a varied affair really with a few cuts that tickle my fancy and too many that just plain bug me. 'Easy Street' is a solid rocker and a good start although the funky 'Late Last Night' has a sound a little too close to Little Feat for comfort. 'I'm Alright' finds Thunder back on track and is much more to my liking; an up-tempo number with weird reggae influenced guitar parts but it works as does 'Last Love Song' which has a nice country rock flavour and the kind of thing Restless Heart and Southern Pacific did so well just a few short years later. 'All Night Long' is the record's best tune by a long shot and it's here the Le Roux comparisons are most applicable with a chunky southern flavoured riff that's also reminiscent of The Outlaws at their pop rock best. Unfortunately the remaining album crashes big-time with the god-awful 'Service With A Mile' and the even worse 'Santiago Midnight Moonlight' recalling the painfully boring Jimmy Buffett and visions of swaying 'Parrotheads' after too many margaritas. 'Magazine Love' is clearly an ode to polishing the knob and not worth describing further, in fact I'll just save time and let 'Rock And Roll Wasteland' pass by without a word as the title nearly sums up the entire album.

In Summary
Apparently of the two Wounded Bird reissues, this one is the hardest to find and starting to increase in value on the resale market over at Evilbay. Southern collectors will probably want it if they don't have it already but I find it difficult to recommend to anyone else. Approach with caution.

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#1 | dangerzone on December 13 2011 09:51:35
I agree this album is less than spectacular. 'Headphones For Cows' is significantly better and one I still play a lot to this day.
#2 | richardb on December 18 2011 16:49:57
Yes I remember being decidedly underwhelmed by their debut though a few of the songs were re-worked and improved on John Porter-McMeans solo CD.

Richard B
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