Brit rockers Thunder. You gotta love ‘em, approaching their thirtieth year as an act and still going, despite trying to retire twice and have a much-deserved rest. But the fans won’t let the poor buggers stop, always turning up in droves whenever a reformation tour or album rumbles (thunders?) into view; and why, frankly, should we not when the band are still capable of putting out such high quality classic rock as Rip it Up?
If you build it, they will come goes the saying, and Luke Morley and Danny Bowes have constructed another blues rock edifice of some distinction here, one that’s certain to gather fans of all ages and tastes to the cause. Gone are the high-octane thrills and spills of the band’s fabled debut album Backstreet Symphony of course (though opening track No One Gets Out Alive does have a bit of a whiff of the excitement of those heady days), with the band largely opting for a more laid back approach more befitting a quintet of men reaching ‘vintage’ age. It’s still demonstrably heavy rock, but the bluesy undertones prevalent on Rip it Up enable the band to take the foot off the gas a little more frequently without ever really sacrificing any actual intensity.
Bowes is still in fine voice, you’ll be relieved to hear, though he doesn’t give the pipes quite as rigorous a workout as he has done in the past, whilst Morley clearly still has it in spades, peeling off some wonderful solos and delivering those trademark big, catchy riffs with aplomb and panache.
Rip it Up is the sound of britrock in excelsis, tipping the cap to Bad Company and The Who mainly (although the title track was obviously birthed in the wake of David Bowie’s untimely demise – have a listen and you’ll know what I’m talking about), with Harry James’ percussive contributions often throwning a Bonhamesque heft into the mix for good measure. The marvellous Tumbling Down is the album in microcosm, moving from a cheeky appropriation of Pinball Wizard’s main riff through When the Levee Breaks to a glorious British invasion blues-rock strut before the chorus has even been thought of.
Rip it Up is very much the work of master craftsmen, that’s for sure, but there’s no sterility in the skill. The band’s warmth of spirit shines through on every track, making this one of the most pleasurable listening experiences you’ll have all year. Thunder stretch no boundaries with Rip it Up, preferring simply to reaffirm their primacy as Britain’s leading blues rock exponents of the last twenty odd year. If familiarity is said to breed contempt, then Thunder are surely the exception to that rule. This truly is comfort food for the ears.
Rip it Up is out now.