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Thunder (UK) - 2015 Wonder Days

ARTIST: Thunder (UK)
ALBUM: Wonder Days
LABEL: Ear Music (Edsel Group)
SERIAL: 0210057EMU
YEAR: 2015


LINEUP: Luke Morley - guitars, keyboards, harmonica, percussion, backing vocals * Daniel Bowes - lead, backing vocals * Ben Matthews - guitars, keyboards * Chris Childs - bass * Harry James - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Wonder Days * 02 The Thing I Want * 03 The Rain * 04 Black Water * 05 The Prophet * 06 Resurrection Day * 07 Chasing Shadows * 08 Broken * 09 When The Music Played * 10 Serpentine * 11 I Love The Weekend



In the past I've always been more of a Terraplane man rather than a Thunder man. And in the current I would say I've always been a Union man (please avoid singing The Strawbs single 'Part Of The Union' from 1973, if you mind) than a Thunder man. Yes, but The Union I am referring to is the duo of Luke Morley and Pete Shoulder that has released 3 albums, however that hasn't put me off buying most of the Thunder albums, although I did miss out on 'Robert Johnson's Tombstone', which of course is now quite expensive to secure, (which is usually the case in which I find myself). But after an absence of 6 years (recording wise) the guys have come out of retirement, (well the Tories keep extending the retirement age, so no surprise really) and have released in my opinion something as good as 'Backstreet Symphony' their debut from 1989. And for the benefit of Nick C, I would just like to warn everyone don't confuse this lot with the American group who also went by the same name. I was very disappointed when I picked up 'Backstreet Symphony' in 1989 and imagine my horror when I realise this was a different group. This English lot really should stop calling themselves Thunder. (See the comments on Amazon for the album, 'Headphones For Cows' to explain this reference, I still find it amusing).

The Songs
The opening 'Wonder Days' did stop me in my tracks. What was I hearing, an epic description of growing up, while musically all classic rock groups rolled together into one rock jam Swiss roll. The warmth of the melodies held here are so gratifying, I love the choral effect which previously you would only ever expect to find again if the classic Rainbow line up reformed, which with the loss of heroes, Ronnie and Cozy is now impossible. The same can be said about 'When The Music Played', which could really be any of our life soundtracks such again is the wonderful lyrical content which definitely resonates with me. You're sucked in by the classic Whitesnake grip but then the song is turned on its head when its Red Hot Chilli Peppers doing their cover of Stevie Wonder's, 'Higher Ground'. Sometimes listening to these tracks you feel this is a Joe Bonamassa album, because of the inclusion of different styles. Song wise this conclusion is best explained by the cross referencing of 'Serpentine' and 'Chasing Shadows' In fact in time I wouldn't be surprised to see some of these tunes appearing as cover versions on future Bonamassa albums. Put it another way, this is like opening different shelves in a rock Chester drawers, hearing various qualities, feeling a selection of textures, an album to influence future generations.

These guys could appear on the front cover of Classic Rock, Classic Blues and Classic AOR publications in the same month, although Classic Prog may be pushing it.

'The Thing I Want' provides an AC/DC pumping riff but this time with a raucous English accent. While 'The Rain' can be used as a reference to The Union, I wager that it contains the best mandolin since Gabriel the Frog from Bagpuss let rip. While 'Black Water' has the damaging dirty (love) riff, with a 70's heartbeat, swapped from the melodic Slade phase, (i.e. when they fell out of favour).

Of course the sound is Thunder, but mainly to the help of reviewers they seemed to have tapped into the British life of rock, initially with 'Broken' is like an acoustic performance of The Quireboys but without the years of smoking cigarettes and a Geordie accent and secondly the godfathers UFO. If the new UFO didn't have you flying then take a listen to 'The Prophet', which I feel is classic UFO, those thundering riffs providing a distinctly British rock sound.

I enjoyed the melodies of 'Resurrection Day', which nearly touches AOR; say at least tickles, especially the 'Whoa Whoa' at the end. Which are the best since the 1993 Chase album called 'In Pursuit' (see articles 1993).

One major factor why I like this is the absence of less groan songs, look I never really enjoyed the songs like 'I Love You More Than Rock n Roll' (which is totally untrue anyway), which I found to be too Status Quo and while here we find 'I Love The Weekend' it avoids sounding too cheesy.

In Summary
I remember that ITV always used to play the Terraplane video for 'I Can't Live Without Your Love', as filling in time before an episode from the second Australian soap to hit British screens started; of course this was Sons & Daughters (any guesses who was the first?). In fact whenever I play Thunder, the wife stills comes in and says that's Terraplane, meaning to her that Danny Bowes will always be Terraplane and nothing will change her connection with Bowes and Morley. There was always rumours of an affair between David Coverdale and Morley and its clear here again that Davy Boy has picked the wrong partner, as Morley has developed over the years to be one of the best British songwriters, because Dave could have been celebrating an album called 2015, his best since 1987. But the vocals of Danny Boy (when did he change from Danny to Daniel?) are up for it, while I wonder if Davy Boy vocals could manage it (although maybe adding extending solos to the tunes it might just be possible). Maybe Morley is feeding off the work he released under The Union, which has improved the blood flow and circulation to all of the members of the Thunder train. Taking this point further, maybe it's that I have listen to The Union more than Thunder, because tracks like 'The Rain' and 'Serpentine' really sound like The Union just with Danny Bowes singing. As always Morley plays many a spotlight guitar solo. Is it better than 'Back Street Symphony'?, well put it this way, I have in making that decision, more in common with a hawk (well worth reading is a book called 'H is for Hawk', written by Helen McDonald) I'd rather live in the future than the past, so 'Wonder Days' has definitely got its claws into me and it isn't letting go. Just think this entered the UK album charts at a number 9, that's higher than Steven Wilson's magnificent new album.

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