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Album Review : Thunder expanded reissues

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Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM

Finally the first three Thunder albums are getting a vinyl release and with some awesome additional tracks that are worth the cost alone( that and some beautiful coloured discs).

The PR blurb says the first three Thunder albums are iconic but boy does that undersell them. These three albums are flawless. This was my band on the 90s. I will happily admit I was one of the very few who will put their hand up and said I was a Terraplane fan. I even remember seeing them on a Saturday morning kids TV programme and as cringy as it was I loved it.

I was gutted when they broke up and here was me thinking I would have to say goodbye to Luke Morley’s slightly dodgy mullet but in a blink of an eye Thunder were born and in 1990 one of the best debut album’s ever was released in Backstreet Symphony.

To this day I cannot listen to opening track “She’s so Fine” without seeing Danny in his question mark with a globe t-shirt as he strode onto the hallowed turf of Castle Donington for Monsters of Rock in 1990 and instantly cemented themselves in history as the best opening act at a festival.

On this album I saw the band so many times it was unreal. From a then Mayfair(Now the Garage) in Glasgow to Donington, Newcastle and beyond. The 11 tracks held within this album are all bangers and you cannot fail to dodgy dad shimmy like Danny as soon as they come on.

This album took Luke Morley’s songwriting to the masses with some outstanding work on the likes of “Higher Ground”, the title track and “Until my Dying Day”. Add to that the instant hit and live favourites of “Dirty Love”(oh what I would give for Danny to do his monologue on this intro), “Love Walked in” and Gimme Some Lovin’”.

Those last three were where this album was made and where the popularity exploded and the niche of Terraplane ended. The humour that runs through the band was also present in “An Englishman on Holiday” and as much as this Scot would never sing the track out loud I did appreciate the tongue in cheek.

Were Thunder a decade too late? Or even five years as if that nasty word Grunge hadn’t happened I swear Thunder would have been the next biggest thing.

This album does not need anything else to propel it to musical genius but we get live tracks of “Gimme Some Lovin”, She’s so Fine” and “Until my Dying Day” and with the latter coming in at nearly nine minutes the winner for me.

Backstreet Symphony rating :- Perfection

Next up was Laughing on Judgment Day and if second albums are difficult this little bitch of an album did not seem like it at the time or listening now. The opening of “Does it Feel Like Love” grabs you by the hips and has you swinging back and forth now, just as it did then.

Once again Morley reached out to what he knew on this album and he gets in the female angle with tracks like “Everybody Wants Her”, “Flawed to Perfection” or “Baby I’ll be Gone” but it was the social commentary tracks that stood out for me and sold the fact that Luke was no one trick pony.

To this day “Low Life in High Places” and “Empty City” are stunning songs which are still in my top 10. The lyrical content was hard hitting and although very relevant in 1992 that relevance is still as powerful today.

As always the humour is there in the likes of the title track and some big hitters in “Better Man”, “Today the World Stopped Turning” and “Like a Satellite” and as I listen to these songs I fall in love with them all over again and masses of memories float through my head, so many gigs, so many festivals and so many laughs with this band.

This band built up the name from amazing music but also from being right there after a show with a few beers. They were always there with free beer, vodka, a very large Black gentleman to keep us in line(that never worked on me and to this day I do not know how he stopped from decking me).

To this day the boys still do this but never quite managed to get back to the heights of the Thunder girls and something that would never happen these days(I am so glad I lived in those times).

These things were how this band broke and became legends to us kids back in the day.

The extra live tracks on this one are “Better Man”, “The Moment of Truth” and “like a Satellite” and listening to these tells you just how good this band were and are and as for Mr Bowes I have never seen one bad show…even when they had the worst Whisky hangover ever and done an in store performance in Tower records Glasgow and he still sounded awesome.

Laughing on Judgment Day rating :- Sheer perfection

Behind Closed Doors is the third and final release of this batch of reissues and from opening track “Moth to the Flame” you knew this one was going to be different. There was a serious vibe that ran through the album and the jokey numbers had flittered away with the big messages coming out with a huge dance with funk.

This album has some seriously impressive tracks with the likes of “River of Pain”, “Future Train”, “Preaching from a Chair” and “Till the River Runs Dry”. Massive stories told with genuine and believable angles and where my real love of Thunder is lodged.

With every thought provoking masterpiece the band throw in a banger in the likes of “Stand Up” and as you look at the track listing for this album it is no wonder this hit number 5 in the UK charts (back when that was no easy task).

We have gotten to Thunder’s third album and it has just hit me all these years later that there was not one filler on the trio. This was why I described these releases as flawless. It has also been great to play these all in order as I have relived that journey I and the band had all those years ago.

There is not one bad track and I remember thinking at the time this band would take over the world and to this day I still cannot believe it never happened but at least now the boys got another bite at the apple and nostalgia and a fan base that never went away can still see the boys perform live and see them getting the recognition we craved for them.

The extra tracks here are “Stand Up”, “Til the River Runs Dry” and “Preaching from the Chair” which the latter being acoustic wins it for me.

Behind Closed Doors rating:- pure fucking perfection


Backstreet Symphony
She’s So Fine
Dirty Love
Don’t Wait For Me
Higher Ground          
Until My Dying Day
Back Street Symphony
Love Walked In
An Englishman On Holiday
Girl’s Going Out Of Her Head
Gimme Some Lovin’
Distant Thunder
She’s So Fine (Live at Marquee London, 2002)
Until My Dying Day (Live at Marquee London, 2002)
Gimme Some Lovin’ (Live at Nottingham Rock City, 2008)

Laughing On Judgement Day
Does It Feel Like Love?
Everybody Wants Her
Low Life In High Places
Laughing On Judgement Day
Empty City
Today The World Stopped Turning
Long Way From Home
Fire To Ice
Feeding The Flame
A Better Man
The Moment Of Truth
Flawed To Perfection
Like A Satellite
Baby I’ll Be Gone
A Better Man (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire London, 2005)
The Moment Of Truth (Live at Nottingham Rock City, 2011)*
Like A Satellite (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire London, 2007)

*LP only

Behind Closed Doors
Moth To The Flame
Fly On The Wall
I’ll Be Waiting
River Of Pain
Future Train
‘Til The River Runs Dry
Stand Up
Preaching From A Chair
Castles In The Sand
Too Scared To Live
Ball And Chain
It Happened In This Town
In A Broken Dream (Live at Club Citta Japan, 2000)
Stand Up (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire London, 2005)
‘Til The River Runs Dry (Live at Nottingham Rock City, 2005)
Preaching From A Chair (Acoustic at Tackle Out Studio Hove, 2019)

Backstreet Symphony
Format: 2LP Colour
Format: CD Digipak

Laughing On Judgement Day
Format: 2LP Colour
Format: CD Digipak

Behind Closed Doors
Format: 2LP Colour
Format: CD Digipak

Photos by Ross Halfin

Info on tracklists and pre-ordering can be found here


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