Review: Thunder – 'All You Can Eat'

Who doesn’t love a good buffet? We all have that one friend who has a special pair of buffet trousers with that little bit of extra space. We all love a bargain, and this definitely fits in that category, as you get so much for your money in this day and age.

If this release was from anyone other than Thunder I would be very dubious. Their latest (and best charting) album was only released last year, after a six year hiatus. You could have thought “Here we go, they are just trying to coin it in”, but Thunder is a different beast. I can testify to this, as they were my band of the ’90s. I followed them around the country, went to festivals just for them, and was a fully paid up member of “The Thunder Channel”.

It is mentioned in the DVD of this release, but I do think Thunder were the forefathers of VIP (meet and greet) at gigs. They never charged then, and to this day, they still do not charge. They looked after their fans, and, for me, this is why we were so glad to see them back and gave them such a successful return.

Do not get me wrong, if “Wonder Days” was a piece of crap, we would not be seeing this release or an arena tour kicking off next month. The goods have to be there, and with this album, it certainly was. Without a doubt, this is the best album they have released in six years (kidding guys) in a long time.

Thunder caused me much puzzlement over the years. I fell in love with them as soon as “Back Street Symphony” was released. Well, to be honest, I was one of a very few people who actually liked Terraplane, but the change to Thunder and that debut album were brilliant. There was not one bad track, and after you had seen Thunder live, that was it… there was no looking back for me and a lot of other people. The same people who have followed the band faithfully throughout the years, the same people who were gutted when they packed it in (every single time!). The bemusement came from how the hell they never made it to superstardom. They had all the elements: great songs, great albums, and one of the best live bands you will ever see. To this day, I have never seen them do a bad show. Even the Tower Records acoustic show I saw in Glasgow, where they were so hungover after a night on whisky, they could hardly walk.

There have been many, many so called reasons why they never made it big put forward by people over the years. In fact, it is probably the main discussion point when you meet up with other Thunder fans. You get the stupid ones like it is the band’s name, blame grunge, they aren’t good enough to play an arena (get real, you loser), everyone has some idea, but I never could put my finger on it, but maybe it was the old adage ‘right people, wrong time’. Whatever the reason, it is brilliant to see the guys back and gracing the stages they should have all those years ago.

This package is split into three courses so please read on…

STARTER

This is the (kind of) live recording from RAK studios. The band admit they thought this was a crap idea and they never really bought into it. It is basically them setting up in a studio and playing live the day before a live show. I can see why they were dubious, as on paper it makes no sense but this is Thunder, and this is live, and this is brilliant. It clumps together all the new songs and a few extras. This whole package with Blu Ray comes in at around £15, and I would have paid that just for this disc alone, as it is a statement the boys are back and in their element.

CD1 Starter: Live at RAK Studio 1 1 – Wonder Days 2 – The Thing I Want 3 – When The Music Played 4 – Black Water 5 – Resurrection Day 6 – I Love The Weekend 7 – Chasing Shadows 8 – Serpentine 9 – Be Good To Yourself 10 – The Rocker 11 – Superstition 12 – Up Around The Bend 13 – I’m Down 14 – The Stealer

MAIN COURSE

We already had a taster of this one. This was recorded at Brooklyn Bowl, and again this was done for the fans. The tickets were given away free (I missed out, you buggers) and it was promoted by Classic Rock magazine who gave away some of the tracks free, as a thank you to the boys for coming back. What can I say? It has everything you expect from a live Thunder recording… all the fan favourites are there and Danny is on fire (I will argue with anyone out there that this man is one of the finest vocalists this country has ever produced, for me he is up there with Freddie). It is good to get the full set after being teased with the tracks earlier.

CD2 Main Course: Live at The Brooklyn Bowl 1 – Backstreet Symphony 2 – The Thing I Want 3 – Black Water 4 – Low Life In High Places 5 – Be Good To Yourself 6 – Wonder Days 7 – The Devil Made Me Do It 8 – Resurrection Day 9 – Stand Up 10 – The Rocker 11 – Love Walked In 12 – Dirty Love 13 – Up Around The Bend 14 – Just Another Suicide

DESSERT

Now this is the one for the fans. A seventy minute documentary with the boys, shot in an almost empty, albeit large, house with very dubious soundproofing (watch the outakes). It is a little arty-farty, but you get Harry sitting on a trike, so you know they are not taking it too seriously.

It is a very honest, open, and at times, touching film. It covers all aspects of the last 6 years, why they split up, when they realised it was a mistake, the Christmas shows, how they got it all back together again, and as well as how they were blown away with the fans response to “Wonder Days”… and the very important part, Ben’s battle with cancer, and how everyone dealt with it.

For me, this film was Thunder personified. This is the guys I have drunk with, sat down and talked too, taken the piss out of whilst very, very drunk. I was backstage at Donington, cosied up with the Thunder birds. This documentary gets the boys spot on. You really do feel they are best of mates. You get the feeling they are genuine, and the main thing that runs through it all is the humour. They are seriously funny guys, and the reason they appealed to me is it is just like sitting with your mates in a pub.

Oh, before I forget, the one thing it does show is that certain members of the band’s dress sense has not improved (I still have photos of Danny’s red denim jean and jacket combo, and Luke’s dodgy, flowery cowboy boots).

Dessert: ‘Wonder Days’ – The Film + Bonus Video Content

1 – Wonder Days – The Film (documentary – 70 mins)

Loud Park (Bonus Video) – Whole Show Recorded at Loud Park Japan 2014 (36 mins) 1 – Dirty Love 2 – The Thing I Want 3 – Higher Ground 4 – Wonder Days 5 – River Of Pain 6 – I Love You More Than Rock’n’Roll

RAK Studio Sessions (Bonus Video Highlights from the RAK Electric Session) 1 – When The Music Played 2 – Resurrection Day 3 – I Love The Weekend 4 – Chasing Shadows 5 – Serpentine 6 – I’m Down 7 – The Stealer

Live At The Brooklyn Bowl (Bonus Video Highlights from the Brooklyn Bowl show) 1 – Black Water 2 – Low Life In High Places 3 – Be Good To Yourself 4 – The Rocker 5 – Love Walked In 6 – Up Around The Bend

A brilliant package for old and new fans alike. If someone hasn’t heard Thunder live this is the perfect gift. Take their phone off them and lock them in a room. Existing fans will probably have this on preorder (the rich or total crazy fans will have ordered the Japanese import which also has an extra disc with a live show from Japan). If you are dithering about this, don’t! Just get out and buy this, and if you have not got your tickets for the tour yet… WHY THE HELL NOT?

Review Ritchie Birnie

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