Shooting At The Sun - Thunder

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Shooting At The Sun - Thunder

1 CD(s) - Pop Metal - Label: STC - Distributor: Townsend/Universal Music - Released: 03/05/2004 - 5055131000011

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Review of "Shooting At The Sun - Thunder"

published 22/06/2003 | Soho_Black
Member since : 30/08/2002
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Brighton Marathon done in 4:32:01, London Marathon in 4:38:47. Nearly up to £1000 raised if you want to add to it at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/IainWear
Super
Pro Everything that makes Thunder great is in here somewhere
Cons Vocals poorly mixed on a couple of songs
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Lyrics
How does it compare to the artist's other releases

"The Boys Are Back In Town!"

When Thunder announced they were splitting after ten years in 1999, it was a sad day for many of their fans, knowing we’d never see a band quite like them again. However, all was not completely lost. It appears that, in much the same way as when Terraplane split in 1988, the band couldn’t keep away from music.

In 2001, guitarist Luke Morley’s solo album “El Gringo Retro” appeared, with backing musicians and a touring band including the whole of Thunder, with the exception of vocalist Danny Bowes. The album was generally slower paced and more bluesy than a Thunder album, but Luke was always the talent behind Thunder’s song writing, so it was no surprise it was as good as it was. He just can’t sing as well as Danny, though. But then, few can.

In 2002, Danny and Luke got together again, and the result was Bowes & Morley. Their album together “Moving Swiftly Along”, and a touring band that included all of Thunder excepting drummer Harry James, who was touring with Magnum at the time, gave us all hope that there may be more from Thunder. The album “Moving Swiftly Along” would not have disgraced the band if it had been released as Thunder, with stand outs “Freakshow” and “Dancing the Night Away” being as good as anything Thunder have ever released. The cover of Was Not Was’ “Walk the Dinosaur” at the Bowes & Morley gig proved the fun that characterised Thunder was also back. There may well be another Bowes & Morley album in 2004, too.

Then, Summer 2002. A line up for a “Monsters of Rock” arena tour was announced, and featured Thunder. I had to check, and it was true. The idea for the tour was Danny’s, and the promoter agreed on condition that Thunder reformed and played. Danny was reluctant, as that wasn’t a part of his plan, but the band agreed. In the autumn, plans for an EP featuring four brand new songs were announced. New songs? From Thunder? Even better, this was to be followed by an album in the spring of 2003. A brand new Thunder album, after four years away. I could hardly contain myself.

The “Back for the Crack” EP had proved that Thunder were back, and as good as ever. So, when the album initially came out, I was straight in there to buy it. That said, I’m such a big fan of the band, I’d have probably been straight out to buy it even if the EP had been useless.

The cover is quite eye catching, which is a bit of a concern at first glance, as the cover to “Behind Closed Doors” was as well, and that turned out to be the worst of their albums. I was hoping the same isn’t true here. However, where the cover to “Behind Closed Doors” was paid for at great expense by EMI, this is merely a collage of photos, reminding the fan that Thunder are, for the moment, without a record label, and essentially financing this album by themselves.

Opener “loser” begins with Danny stretching his vocals chords in the way only he can, before the guitars and drums kick in. It’s perhaps a little heavier than some of Thunder’s usual material, maybe more rock-pop than pop-rock. The mix is a little heavy, with Danny’s vocals seeming a little distant at points, which is never a good thing, as he has an amazing voice, and has always been the most easily recognisable part of Thunder. This was the opening single from the album, and reached the Top 50 recently, which is amazing, considering it had no promotion, either as airplay or a video to back it up.

It’s about a guy trying to figure out why his girlfriend is bothering with someone like him. It’s definitely a long I can relate to, strangely mirroring my own life at present.

“Don’t think I’m stupid, but I can’t understand/Why you’re talking to me and holding my hand”

For any fans worried if and how four years away might have changed the band, the second track “Everybody’s Laughing” puts those worries to rest. The trademark humour is still intact, as is the band’s dislike of drugs, although the stance here is less “anti-drug”, and more “I can’t see the point, personally”. A brief drum intro, followed by a beautifully funky guitar riff, heavy on the wah pedal, takes you into this one. There’s a lovely grove all the way through the song you can’t help but tap your foot along to. Fortunately, the problems with the mix, which detracted slightly from the opener, are gone here, and you can concentrate on what is probably the best track on the album.

“If I Can’t Feel Love” is a ballad in the true Thunder style. The acoustic intro sounds a little like “Better Man”, their biggest hit, although the production values sound a little strained again, especially when the electric guitar comes in. It’s a very simple song, as was “Better Man”, relying heavily on Danny stretching himself to the top of his range. It ends on a more electric note, becoming a power ballad in the 80’s rock style about half way through. It’s been suggested on the Thunder message board that this could be a next single, and it’s nearly as strong a ballad as “Love Walked In”, although very little could actually match that song.

The title track “Shooting at the Sun” is another one which makes me wonder if Luke was spying on my life when he wrote the album. It’s about a guy who’s trying to attract a woman, but she’s still staying with her current bloke. This starts with a slow, funky bass guitar riff, before the guitar comes in. Remaining bass heavy, there’s a groove as catchy as “Everybody’s Laughing” running through the whole song, although it’s a little slower. Danny’s voice isn’t catching at the edges as on the previous song. It’s a wonderfully funky piece of rock-pop, although the backing vocals are maybe a little weak.

“The Pimp and the Whore” is the first of three tracks which also appeared on the “Back for the Crack” taster, and by far the best of the three. A fairly non-descript intro gives way to a guitar riff that you’ll remember for as long as you live, pretty much. A quicker song, and one that has your foot tapping all the way through. Danny’s voice comes down the scale slightly, and seems a lot richer and more rounded.

The song itself is having a go at the current tendency to make pop stars out of nothing, with shows like “Pop Idol” and the like. It’s possibly the only trace of bitterness to being dropped by the record label, as happened to the band four years ago. This has also been suggested as a single, largely because the band have no record label to worry about vetoing at present. Although the song has a general feel about it, there’s one line I’m sure is directed at Will Young.

“Come out of the closet, we’ll hit number one/You’ll be there for Christmas, by Spring you’ll be gone”

“A Lover, Not a Friend” is a return to the ballads. In a similar way to “If I Can’t Feel Love”, the intro is an acoustic guitar and Danny’s voice, building up later on. Danny’s voice plays with the top end of his range again. It’s not as strong a song as the earlier one, though, and passes by, rather than involving the listener.

On all Thunder’s albums, there seems to be a song about leaving your hometown behind. It’s as much as trademark as their humour and Danny’s voice. This album is no different, and “Shake the Tree” keeps up the theme. This one is about leaving the city and moving to the country, rather than leaving home for bigger and better places.

The song is quite rocky, again unlike others on the same theme from previous albums. It’s quite bass heavy, similar to a number of tracks from the bands’ “Behind Closed Doors” album. However, the driving beat fits in with the theme of moving on. It’s more of a rock song than Thunder fans are perhaps used to, but is a great track none the less. The ending does descend into a little musical free for all, though, strangely for a band who have built a fan base on great songs.

“Somebody Get Me a Spin Doctor” is another track from the preview EP, and the only one they played live before the album was released. As you might guess form the title, it’s about politicians getting away with murder because they can spin their way out of it. It’s more back towards Thunder’s traditional pop-rock sound than the previous track, and faster paced, although parts of the song, especially the guitar solos add a down and dirty bluesy style to it, not dissimilar to something AC/DC might have produced. It’s not usual for Thunder to take on such a serious subject in their lyrics, but it’s presented in a way that is more like the band, with a grin and a sly wink, and Danny’s dirty laugh appearing at a couple of points.

“Napoleon wasn’t short, he was only of diminished size/The Krays loved their mother and a politician never lies”

“The Man Inside” slows the pace down again, almost as if to allow recovery from the previous couple of tracks. Again, there’s a quietness to start with, Danny’s voice overlaying the instruments. The chorus brings to mind “Numb”, from the bands “Giving the Game Away” album, which is no bad thing, as that was a lovely song, and one of their more sensitive lyrics. The only poor point is that there’s a lot of distortion over the guitar solo, and it almost sounds like it’s being played on a synthesiser, rather than a guitar. The song is about presenting a different face to the public than you actually are, and not letting anyone see what’s inside.

“Out of my Head” opens with a Hammond organ, which isn’t usual for a Thunder track. However, it overlays the remaining instruments perfectly, which are again quite bass heavy. Thunder have clearly decided they are going to try and be a rock band, more than the pop-rock band they have been for many years. However, the result isn’t entirely successful. The lyrics don’t seem to fit with the music, and the backing vocals are a little reminiscent of “Just Another Suicide”, from the “Giving the Game Away” album. It’s only towards the end when the bass eases up slightly, the bluesy guitar comes to the fore, and Danny moves up his vocal range that the song comes together.

“Blown Away” brings both the album, and the contribution from the ”Back From The Crack” EP to a close. I thought this was the weakest song from that EP, and that the missing track “When Tomorrow Comes” would have been a better inclusion. However, it does round this album out quite nicely. The track has another largely acoustic start, but eventually picks up the pace and volume, and suddenly starts sounding like something that wouldn’t be out of place on a much earlier Thunder album. However, the ending of the album isn’t as good as the beginning.

Despite a four year wait, the fans have stayed loyal to Thunder, and this album has sold faster than their previous effort, 1999’s “Giving the Game Away”. There’s a very good reason for this, however, in that this is a better album. Thunder have taken aspects from their career, and blended them together in a most acceptable way, giving the Thunder fan a real treat. The lyrical maturity that characterised “Giving the Game Away” has remained, but has been beefed up with some of the rockier moments from the band’s catalogue, leaving more of a rock-pop than a pop-rock sound. There’s more of a bluesy edge to the music, particularly in the guitar work than ever before, but Danny’s voice and the band’s humour make this unmistakably a Thunder record.

For the Thunder fan, this is a must have. Standing proudly in among the remainder of their albums, and above at least half of them, this is one not to be missed. For someone who likes the lighter end of the guitar based rock music spectrum, you could go a long way before finding a better band than Thunder. This is the kind of album that bands like Busted – pop acts with guitars – want to be making, but they will never be allowed to, due to record companies watching over them, and ensuring they play pop music.

That is the over-riding impression this album gives. There is no record label to answer to. As when Danny, Luke and Harry formed Thunder after Terraplane split up because they wanted to play their music, so is this album recorded. The band can’t not work together, because they work together so well. They can’t not play music, because it’s in their bones, and it’s what they do. But when you take the pressure off, and they start making music for themselves, rather than for some record company executive to approve, they come out of their shells, have some fun, and provide a listening experience it’s not easy to beat.

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Comments on this review

  • battiest published 09/08/2003
    I've never heard this CD, but your op has made me want to. Super review - Cate
  • Tickly published 11/07/2003
    Great op. Didn't know this was out, but will be attempting to do a few downloads on the QT tonight on your recommendation! Shona
  • emmorticia published 30/06/2003
    I'm really going to have to listen to some Thunder at some point...after hearing you raving about them for ages, how can i not?! Em x
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Product Information : Shooting At The Sun - Thunder

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1 CD(s) - Pop Metal - Label: STC - Distributor: Townsend/Universal Music - Released: 03/05/2004 - 5055131000011

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EAN: 5055131000011

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Listed on Ciao since: 22/06/2003