Yes, All You Can Eat is already out and indeed found itself at number 1 in the UK DVD charts upon release. However, we’ve only just been given a review copy and there’s no harm in getting the word out to anyone who’s not picked up a copy as yet. Maybe waiting for pay day or a bit of feedback as to whether it’s worth it? Well read on.
All You Can Eat is a three-disc collection of two CDs and a DVD. The DVD, Dessert, is a “making” of effort detailing the band’s first trip into the studio for six years to record the Wonder Days album. The two CDs are live collections, but very different ones.
The first, Starter, has the band in the studio recording in a live fashion fourteen tracks. One after the other, no breaks, no setup, no overdubs. It’s as live as a band can be without an audience.
The second CD, Main Course, is a “proper” live recording from a special show done at the Brooklyn Bowl organised by Classic Rock magazine. Tickets were free and handed out in a form of lucky dip, on the promise that nobody who attended would utter a word about it. It too kplace three months before the release of Wonder Days and included a couple of songs from that album, older material and covers.
To tackle them in reverse because, hey I’m a grown-up so I don’t have to stick to rules, Dessert is an interesting rock-umentary which features nice footage of interviews with the entire band. Both individually and as a group, the guys tell the story of Wonder Days beginning with the band taking a break back in 2009, through those “on-off” shows and on to their decision to record a new album and tour on it. It’s nicely filmed and comes across well – the band giving their stories without appearing to be answering questions as such.
A highlight, if you can call it that, is each member giving their reaction to the news of Ben’s cancer diagnosis – in particular that of Ben himself. If there’s anything that displays Thunder as a close unit, mates who look out for each other and genuinely care then this is it. This links in with some of the songwriting, especially for “Resurrection Day” and the video begins to focus on the album recording, cover art and then onto the marketing including the Brooklyn Bowl gig features on one of the CDs.
This really is a nice, comprehensive and easy to watch story which would be of interest not just to Thunder fans but to anyone who wants to know what goes into the making of an album. It’s not technical, it’s personal and that’s far more interesting than a ton of videos detailing amp settings, string gauges, pedal arrangements and so on. I don’t think it’s got the rewatchability of, say, alive gig video but it’s very, very good at what it is.
Main Course is a 14-song feast featuring, as mentioned above, a decent mix of songs. It’s as good as you could hope for in a live recording. The band themselves are on fine form and the mix couldn’t be any better, but best of all is that they’ve captured the crowd perfectly as well. This is something some live recordings don’t quite manage and it adds so much to the atmosphere.
It’s easy to get the roar and applause in, but the multitude of voices singing along really put you right into the crowd.
For me, the special recording is Starter. I just love the idea of just running the tracks off the way they have and there’s a decent collection of songs. Of course, there’s some crossover with Main Course in terms of track listing, but you have something that sits between live and studio recording, which is novel. Given the higher quality of a studio recording, the fact that Thunder can belt through these songs and they simply sound a little rough around the edges is testament to their musical abilities.
This is a great collection for your money and something different than your usual “best of” compilation that you’d tend to expect from a band, or even a simple live album with a couple of extras. I’m sure most of Thunder’s hardcore fan-base would have had this on pre-order before release, but if you’re a waverer then you can take it from me – I doubt you’ll be disappointed.