Thunder - Backstreet Symphony (Geffen) 1991

1.      She's So Fine (5:30)
2.      Dirty Love (5:20)
3.      Don't Wait for Me (5:33)
4.      Higher Ground (5:05)
5.      Until My Dying Day (6:30)
6.      Backstreet Symphony (4:30)
7.      Love Walked In (6:22)
8.      An Englishman on Holiday (4:25)
9.      Girl's Going Out of Her Head (4:16)
10.     Gimme Some Lovin' (3:44)
11.     Distant Thunder (4:55)

Thunder play hooky, melodic, boogie and blues based rock and roll. They rely mostly on a stripped down, back-to-basics style of rock 'n' roll. They fall somewhere between Whitesnake and Bad Company, only with a more 80's vibe like Great White, Kingdom Come or even Rough Cutt. The band is driven by the strong, slightly raspy vocals of Daniel "Don" Bowes who brings even more comparisons to Whitesnake and Bad Company. The overall sound is aided by beefy production that is mostly guitar heavy and not at all poppy or over glossy, as much of the late 80's and early 90's hard rock tended to be. For the most part these guys are loud 'n' proud, rocking hard, though the obligatory ballads are also there. "Symphony" spawned a minor hit in Euorpe for "Dirty Love", as well as the slower ballads "Love Walked In" and "Higher Ground". The slower stuff is surprisingly soulful and sincere. However, it's the more meaty songs like the title track and the humorous "An Englishman on Holiday" that really hold my interest. There is also a cover of The Spencer Davis Group classic hit, "Gimme Some Lovin''". It's unfortunate that by 1991 this style of hooky hard rock was over saturated because many good bands, like Thunder, really never saw their time in the sun. Within a few short years, grunge would esentially wipe the style off the face of the earth. Shame really. I like this quite a bit. I don't like most grunge.

Laughing on Judgement Day Thunder - Laughing on Judgement Day (Geffen) 1992

1.      Does It Feel Like Love? (4:59)
2.      Everybody Wants Her (4:30)
3.      Low Life in High Places (4:09)
4.      Laughing on Judgement Day (4:34)
5.      Empty City (6:59)
6.      Today the World Stopped Turning (4:44)
7.      Long Way from Home (6:01)
8.      Fire to Ice (4:34)
9.      Feeding the Flame (4:31)
10.     Better Man (3:40)
11.     Moment of Truth (3:54)
12.     Flawed to Perfection (4:55)
13.     Like a Satellite (4:47)
14.     Baby I'll Be Gone (6:49)

Thunder's 1992 sophomore release "Laughing on Judgement Day" was a fairly successful album. Though it didn't even register in the U.S, it sold well in the UK, reaching #2 on the charts and having four successful singles. The sound here is similar to the band's debut with a touch more of a 1970's vibe. Actually, I could accurately describe the music here as 1970's guitar based rock with a 1980's sheen recorded in the early 1990's. To force a comparison, Thunder are sort of a mixture of Uriah Heep, Zeppelin, Coverdale/Hughes-era Deep Purple and Whitesnake circa 1987.

"Empty City" is a smooth R&B song that sounds like it could have been written and sung by Glenn Hughes. "Today the World Stopped Turning" is a smooth, soulful and acoustic-guitar driven ballad that sounds more like a 70's rock song, than a sappy 80's power ballad. Similarly "Low Life in High Places" is an acoustic driven song with a heavy 70's vibe. This song is also one of the standout tracks on the album with a memorable hook. "Long Way from Home" opens with a Hammond Organ intro before bursting into a melodic hard rocker. The title track is a riff-driven rocker with a melodic vibe as well. "Empty City" is another hard rocker and has a big Zep-influence. Vocalist Daniel Don Bowes has a slightly raspy, soulful voice that works well for this type of classic hard rock.

Overall, "Laughing on Judgement Day" is straight-forward, mostly clean, burning heavy, rock 'n' roll driven by a self-assured reliance and a hunger to make it on their own terms no matter what the musical climate of the time might have been.

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