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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Thunder (USA) - 1981 Headphones For Cows
Thunder (USA) - 1981 Headphones For Cows

ARTIST: Thunder (USA)
ALBUM: Headphones For Cows
SERIAL: SD 32-104
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2006, Wounded Bird, WOU-2104


LINEUP: John Porter McMeans - vocals, guitars * Mo West - guitars, vocals * Denny Henson - keyboards, vocals * Chopper Anderson - bass, vocals * Tris Imboden - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Can't Hold On/Can't Let Go * 02 Midnight Heartache * 03 Tupelo * 04 Say Goodbye * 05 One Chance In Hell * 06 We Got All Night * 07 Hard Ride To Heaven * 08 Rock The Night * 09 Where Do We Go From Here

I sort of had a feeling this album was good, judging by the spartan review given it in the Encyclopedia of Hard Rock And Heavy Metal. We're not talking about the popular UK band from the early 90's. This is an obscure and little known outfit from the US with the same name. Having owned their debut album (not too bad either, but fairly lukewarm by comparison), I was completely taken aback by their second effort 'Headphones For Cows' two years on. Yes, dopey album name, and dopey cover too as you can see, but the music thankfully is very classy. Radio friendly, lovely harmonies, stinging guitars when required, poppin' bass, and superb drum work by Tris Imboden (later to shine as the backbeat for the band Chicago). Originating from Kentucky, these guys have struck a perfect balance with their sound. To these ears, Thunder sound like a funkier version of the UK band Charlie - with the same amount of ample melody.

The Songs
They open up with the punchy 'Can't Hold On/Can't Let Go' (no not the Michael Bolton version). A great chorus and check out that happenin' bass from Chopper Anderson. Sounds like this white boy is giving Louis Johnson (of Brothers Johnson) a run for his money! 'Midnight Heartache' pulses along in typical AOR fashion, though is surpassed by the appealing but bluesy riffarama that is 'Tupelo'. The chorus is straight out of Toto and Airborne territory. For real! Pomp fans are gonna love 'Say Goodbye' - keyboards everywhere on this one chaps, even if it is relatively laid back! The southern style is evident on 'Hard Ride To Heaven', reminding us of that fantastic 1985 release from Van Zant. It's AOR, but it's southern. The solos at the end are pretty cool too. 'Rock The Night' is another warm and fuzzy track with a catchy-as-hell chorus, while the token ballad 'Where Do We Go From Here' is pleasant, if unspectacular. If anything though, the side is let down by only one duffer - namely the banal 'One Chance In Hell' (shouldn't that be no chance?).

In Summary
Apart from that, it's a nice album overall, and as difficult to find as cows with headphones attached to their ears - obviously.. As of 2006, both Thunder albums have been re-released with loving care by Terry and the team at Wounded Bird Records. Might be a good occasion to have a word with Mr McMeans about this historic event.. lol!

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#1 | richardb on June 15 2008 17:31:04
A fantastic blend of Southern stylings and AOR. The memorable 'Tupelo' is an all time favourite of mine.

Richard B
#2 | rkbluez on December 08 2009 11:24:09
A cool kind of laid back Southern Rock with some good songs and a great production...really like this one and I also like their debut...thanks to Wounded Bird they both were released on CD although the s/t might be hard to find now.
#3 | swazi on April 09 2012 13:39:03
Yes, I agree. Really good stuff!
#4 | super80boy on May 26 2013 15:51:49
I'd agree with everyone's assessment, this is polished AOR melodic rock with a Southern charm. Nice guitar riffing, especially in 'Hard Ride To Heaven'. The lead off track was definitely crafted for radio play. A consistent effort with very few fillers.
#5 | dangerzone on August 03 2015 18:56:28
An absolute classic. 'Tupelo' and 'Hard Ride to Heaven' truly take the cake.
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