Review: Thunder – All The Right Noises
BMG (March 12th 2021)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Thunder were formed on New Year’s Day 1989 after Danny Bowes and Luke Morley decided to disband Terraplane. There have been 12 original albums in the 30 years since across a career that has seen them step back from the band on a number of occasions. The gravitational pull of one of the UKs most successful rock bands have always brought them back together and the line up of Bowes, Morley, Ben Matthews, Chris Childs and Harry James have used lockdown to good effect by recording their 13th studio album ‘All the Right Noises’.
The album starts with ‘Last One Out Turn Off The Lights‘ which sets out the template of hard no nonsense rock with a guitar riff reminiscent of Whole Lotta Love. Their ability to mix the elements of heavy rock with the more melodic sound of bands like Queen is fully in evidence and ‘Last One Out Turn Off The Lights‘ is a real statement of intent that starts the album off with a bang. ‘Destruction‘ has a totally different feel. Texas style blues with a stunning bass line courtesy of Chris Childs and an authentic blues style delivery. It also has a driving drum part thanks to Harry James who provides the basis for the track with a mix of subtle power on the verses and full force drumming on the chorus. ‘The Smoking Gun‘ has an immediate Western feel to it with a similar sound to Wanted, Dead or Alive, but there the similarities end. The lyrics are astoundingly good and the vocals by Bowes have a real power that draw you inexorably into the song. Three songs in, all different from each other and all of the highest class it is an incredibly high standard for the rest of the album to match.
‘Going to Sin City‘ is a head down assault on the senses that show how hard Thunder can still rock after over 30 years. They sound like Judas Priest on Living after Midnight with fantastic vocals once again and the guitars of Luke Morley and Ben Matthews encouraging each other to ever greater heights. It’s one of my favourite pure rock tracks in ages. ‘Don’t Forget to Live Before you Die‘ has a distorted fuzzy vocal and another fantastic bass from Childs which then moves into another bravura drumming performance from James. There is something unsettling about it that I can’t put my finger on, but it sounds somehow threatening and it really went right through me lyrically and musically. Perhaps it’s because we have spent much of the last year seemingly existing rather than living. ‘I’ll be the One‘ is a gorgeous ballad with a great keyboard backing from Matthews and vocals from Bowes that show his quality in a more understated setting. It’s not a by the numbers ballad though. It has a lyrical quality that sets it apart once again from the bands who just put a ballad on without paying as much attention to the words as they should.
‘Young Man‘ is another no nonsense rocker with echoes of ZZ Top and top quality performances by all the band on a track that is probably the perfect example of a band perfectly complementing each other’s strengths. ‘You’re Gonna Be My Girl‘ is a Quo type boogie that has a punch the air quality which will probably make it a real favourite when it is finally played live. ‘St. George’s Day‘ is a more serious song that references the experience of immigrants coming to the UK and has lyrics that are pure poetry. For any group to come up with a song that has so many important things to say after 30 years together is quite frankly amazing. Thunder are not resting on their laurels and ‘St. George’s Day‘ is the sound of a band continuing to strive for excellence and absolutely rising to it. It is one of the best treatments of our current situation that you could possibly imagine.
The penultimate song, ‘Force of Nature‘ is a tongue in cheek treatment of fans’ adoration which made me smile throughout and occasionally burst out laughing. ‘’I know that I’m a God in your eyes, but I believe this much/ I’m a friend of the common people as long as they don’t touch!’’ is just an absolutely brilliant lyric which made me go back to the start of the song just to listen to it again! Final track ‘She’s a Millionairess‘ is another quality track in an album full of them, that has a Whitesnake style quality to both the lyrics and the blistering tune. It is a fitting end to an album called ‘All the Right Noises’ which doesn’t put a foot wrong in 11 astonishing tracks that visit virtually every rock style and give them that special Thunder stamp.
They have thrown down the gauntlet to every other rock band around, just daring them to come up with a better pure rock album in 2021. You know what? I really don’t think they will!