British rock band Thunder have just released their tenth studio album, “Wonder Days”, a little over six years since the previous album, “Bang!” hit the shelves, during which time the band had retired from active duty – for a second time.
The band first split, early in 2000, after ten years together and five albums. Reuniting as a live act in late 2002, they went on to record a further four albums before splitting again in 2009, citing outside interests – with Danny Bowes particularly feeling that he could not juggle his job as booking agent, managing Thunder and looking after the band’s website with singing too. Then, in 2011, the band announced their return as an occasional live act, with no plans to record new material.
These days it seems that long established bands are increasingly reluctant to record and put out new albums. When so few albums are being sold, or even listened to as a whole, in the age of instant downloads of albums and individual songs, it is in the live arena and with merchandise such as t-shirts that these bands are able to make any money. So it is understandable that acts are not rushing to pour their heart and soul into an album that relatively few people will appreciate for what it is.
Having grown up in the era of vinyl albums, and listening to albums from start to finish, I feel that many miss out by the tendency to playlist seemingly random MP3 tracks into their iPods, mobile phones etc.
Nonetheless, to the delight of Thunder fans everywhere, the band have now come up with a new album – and it’s a corker. I’d go so far as to say it’s the band’s best album since 1996’s excellent “The Thrill Of It All” – and there has not been anything remotely approaching a bad album in between either!
Opening with the title track, “Wonder Days”, the record is chock full of tasty guitar riffs, memorable melodies and great lyrics. “The Rain” is a more laid back and acoustic-based number, which really showcases Bowes’ unparalleled vocals and the way it meshes with Morley’s backing vocals.
“The Prophet” arrives on a driving chugging riff, somewhat reminiscent of Heart’s “Barracuda”, and “Chasing Shadows” has another of the band’s signature riffs powering it along. No Thunder album would be complete without a heartfelt ballad, and in “Broken” they have delivered another classic bittersweet love song.
The real highlight of the album for me is the excellent “When The Music Played” with it’s extended instrumental middle section and wistful lyrics, but mention also has to be made of the brilliant “Serpentine”. In fact, it’s only on the closing “I Love The Weekend” that the overall quality drops fractionally, as this number feels slightly throwaway.
The music that Morley has made away from Thunder – with The Union, his project with Pete Shoulder, with the two Bowes & Morley albums and his own solo album is all great. However, to my ears nothing quite matches the magic created when you mix his songs with Bowes’ voice in the band, underpinned by the rock solid James’ drumming, Matthews’ guitar and keyboard parts and Chris Childs’ bass playing and the magic is complete. Thunder are a fantastic band, whether on record or on stage, and it’s great to have them back with new songs!
Sadly, due to ongoing cancer treatment Matthews was unable to take part in the recording of “Wonder Days” but Morley has ensured that the band still sounds as good as ever by stepping up and covering for his bandmate.
Another 100% essential Thunder album added to the collection…
1. Wonder Days / 2. The Thing I Want / 3. The Rain / 4. Black Water / 5. The Prophet / 6. Resurrection Day / 7. Chasing Shadows / 8. Broken / 9. When The Music Played / 10. Serpentine / 11. I Love The Weekend