Album Review: Thunder – Rip It Up

Everyone has that one band that somehow becomes the soundtrack to your life, and in many ways Thunder have filled that gap for me. First band to see live, first headline tour band I went to see… Around the early 2000’s as they split and reformed and did the same again I seemed to lose touch for a while, but like all old friends when we caught back up with The Wonder Years album and tour and after a few moments of awkward silence it was like we had never been apart. Rip It Up comes only two years after The Wonder Years and people talk about that awkward second album. Well Rip It Up has the same problem, The Wonder Years was a massive album which saw a reinvigorated Thunder produce their best work in over two decades. So how does Rip it Up compare?

On the first play I was impressed with the range of songs. I think perhaps there are a few more bluesy numbers on here but certainly there is a good mix of blues numbers, classic Thunder rockers and a few ballads. At moments, it touches upon an 80’s vibe. “In Another Life” actually really reminds me of Alannah Miles’ “Black Velvet”. Oddly there are a couple of tracks that kick off reminding me of others on the album; the opening to “Tumbling Down” is very reminiscent of The Who’s “I Can See For Miles”, for instance.

The mix of styles, as ever, works well and on the whole it is another good album for Thunder. There’s a laid back and content feel to the album but this comes across well and makes for the sort of album you can put on and play in loads of different of situations and I can see Rip It Up getting a lot of play in the next few months.

The album opens with a classic Thunder track in “No-one Gets Out Alive”. It has a tour opening introduction riff to it. Lyrically it’s a little bit like The Wonder Years. This track helps introduce you to a bit of a theme of the album – “I am not going to live forever”. There is a touch of reminiscence but it is mainly about making the most of each and every day and, if need be, ripping up the master plan and starting again. I think this is a song which will grow on me, it has that easy vocal style added to great riffs.

“She Likes The Cocaine” is an odd song. On the one level it is a pretty cheesy seventies style (both musically and topically), the guitar kind of chugs but it is actually great fun and a well-crafted song.

The first ballad of the album is “Right From The Start” and let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a Thunder album without a few thrown in. Again, lyrically this is another song about making the most of your time, a touch regretful but appreciating that sometimes it is time to change and start again. Danny Bowes is still completely on top of his game. He has started to develop a really easy style but still has all of his range and is able to take you through that range at the drop of a hat. It may be the first ballad but also our first extended and soulful Morley guitar solo.

“Heartbreak Hurricane” is quickly becoming my favourite track on the album, a timeless Thunder classic. It’s a track that could have come from any period of their career, it has essence that makes Thunder who they are. It is that delicate balance between vulnerability and self-confidence, easy vocals swinging into impassioned cries; riffs that carry the song into newer and higher levels that make it such a Thunder classic.

The more piano-led “The Chosen One” also falls into the Thunder classic camp. It is the ease that they combine the lyrics and guitar riffs that makes it. I am not sure quite what it is but Thunder have always been a nighttime band, they are back alleys, late night whiskeys, dimly lit bars, stories being created, lives being led against the flow of the daylight mundane. It is this world for me they inhibit and when they throw tracks out like this it can give you goosebumps.

Final track “There’s Always a Loser” has an endearing simplicity. It is led by a piano and voice track that reminds me of Elton John. I think it is this simplicity, the melancholy in the voice working with the piano that gives this impression. Description wise it may seem odd but it does work. Bowes for me has always been vastly underrated. Thunder meets Elton John and of course we are left with another lingering and great solo from Morley; till next time.

Rip It Up is another classic Thunder album and I am super glad that they are back making records again, playing live and being part of the continued soundtrack to all our lives. They still have that hunger to be the best, still have something to say and have all the talent in the world you need to realise this. It may have been a long journey so far but on this outing Thunder still have plenty more chapters to add to my soundtrack and I look forward to that journey together. So, no more splits please guys. After all, we only have one life.

Rip It Up is out now

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