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Album Review : Thunder reissues – Giving the Game Away

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Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM

Album number two in the second tranch or reissues is 1999s “Giving the Game Away”. It was album number five in the Thunder discography and the last release before the band split up for the first time.

It is a period where you could see, feel and hear the cracks appearing but listening again there are some cracking songs. It was much a mellower album with a lot of the Rockier numbers Thunder were known for dropped and it was probably for this reason that it did not get the critical acclaim the earlier albums had.

Listening back now it is clear that these were Luke Morley’s first shoots of his side projects and his most recent solo album and probably a reason a lot of people felt it was not a true Thunder album.

The album opens with one of the released singles which still broke the UK top 40 in “Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)”. This was shortened to just You Wanna Know in the UK due to the perception having suicide in a title would reduce airplay.

It is a great opening track with pace, rhythm and the usual Thunder swagger, even if it is probably the first song ever to have the lyric hand-glide in it.

The tempo reduces in “All I Ever Wanted”. It was not a ballad, more a lazy country song played on keys. Throw in a bit of Beatles and depression and you are just about there.

The Title track is a very unusual number, another nod to the Beatles and their whacked out Yellow Submarine phase. This was one I struggled with at the time as it was too far out their for my beloved Thunder but now I can see it was just Luke tossing out a line to see what happens.

Another slow starter in “You’ll Still Need a Friend” and I remember thinking at the time are the boys after the housewives vote here? It was very middle of the road, very laid back and due to my age at the time this was a classic Sunday chill out song after a hectic weekend.

It was back to that smoky Jazz bar feel that Thunder do regularly on the first few bars of “Rolling the Dice” but this song is much closer to the Thunder we know and love as the beloved elements are back and Danny gives the song some serious oomph.

“Numb” has those Morley lyrics we are all accustomed too and as he sings there is something going on in my head I wonder what he was going through as this album was written. He was definitely listening to The Beatles that is for sure. He must also have had a lot of doubts as Thunder had been on a whirlwind since their inception. I can imagine a grip on reality may have slipped and some focus lost.

The second single on the album was another UK top 40 song and a cover in “Play That Funky Music” and a song I did not enjoy until they played it live as it was a whole heap of fun in the arena but it came over a bit flat on record for me even though the solo was ace. New boy Chris Childs did lay down an awesome bass line though.

“Till it Shines” is that good old Thunder formula of acoustic guitar and Danny and give me those two elements and I am happy and you are pretty sure you are in for a hit and on this you have it. This is the Thunder I can listen to till Judgement day.

“Time to get Tough” is a little bit funky. It does not sound like a Thunder track, even when the heavier breakdown comes in. It has a punky feel with some serious distortion and an incredible sound focused on the instruments.

We get some shuffle groove on “It’s another Day” but this is more a reflection of the previous four albums. Danny is that force we love and the rock is dialed all the way up.

The album originally closed with “It Could be Tonight” and you wonder if this is the future foretold. Had the boys never reunited this would have been the last song we would have heard and for me that would have been a very weak ending but we know Thunder would never go away and this album was just a stepping stone to a sparkling ffuture where their talent would finally get the recognition they deserved.

The bonus live tracks on this reissue hark back to pre 2013 and these are songs you very rarely hear these days so it was great to hear these number. The four tracks covered are “Numb”, “Rolling the Dice”, It’s Another Day” and “Till it Shines”. The last three tracks sound fantastic, the live settling puts a new life into the songs and raise them well above the recorded versions but hey, every song Thunder do live is better than the recorded tracks, that is just who these boys are…live animals.

Giving The Game Away

  1. Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)
  2. All I Ever Wanted
  3. Giving the Game Away
  4. You’ll Still Need a Friend
  5. Rolling the Dice
  6. Numb
  7. Play That Funky Music
  8. ‘Til It Shines
  9. Time to Get Tough
  10. It’s Another Day
  11. It Could be Tonight
  12. Numb (Live at Manchester Academy, 2012)*
  13. Rolling the Dice (Live at Rock City Nottingham,  2007)*
  14. It’s Another Day (Live at Manchester Academy, 2012)*
  15. ‘Til It Shines (Live at Rock City Nottingham, 2008)*

*Bonus Tracks

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