There was little surprise that Thunder saved the best for last as they laid waste Newcastle’s City Hall for the final time on Tuesday. It’s long since been the traditional set closer and the song which gets absolutely everyone jumping – even the bloke from rushonrock too busy mentally preparing his review to truly rock out.
But for me the band’s best/most famous/classic track always induces a sense of deep despair and heart wrenching regret. A sickly feeling starts deep down in my gut before rising throatwards at the very moment Luke Morley blasts out those first, definitive notes.
It’s not because the song itself has a habit of making grown men ill. Quite the opposite. Should I approach one of my favourite blues rock anthems of all time with a clean slate I’d lap it up just like the rest of ‘em. But for me Dirty Love brings back memories of my murky past and a time when split loyalties forced one of the most difficult decisions in a life dominated by tough rock stances.
I’d heard the song on Tommy Vance’s show, Alan Robson’s show, maybe caught it on MTV and possibly the Pepsi Chart Show. It was the sound of a bright new band boasting bags of confidence at a time when the UK had the likes of Gun, Terrorvision and the Quireboys to crow about. Thunder were leading the charge of new British classic rock and Dirty Love was a homegrown anthem for the hair metal generation.
I remember the immense pride I felt upon purchasing the shaped picture disc version. I was the envy of my mates – and one in particular. Paul Mason was a sometime rock buddy into learning the guitar, Metal Hammer and out of reach rock chicks. We had plenty inn common including a deep admiration of Thunder. But he didn’t own the limited edition copy of Dirty Love and I did. Jealous? He could have killed me (I think).
Anyway for some time I lauded it over PM. During our dreadful jams on a Saturday morning I’d casually remind him just how good that record sounded (in actual fact it was shit) and looked. He laughed it off with a look of despair in his eyes only to present me with the ultimate dilemma some months later.
Paul, you see, had managed to get his sticky mits on the 12 inch boxed version of Love Bites by Def Leppard. Inside it contained the missing pieces to a giant Hysteria artwork – aimed at people like me who’d religiously collected Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Armageddon It etc. Only I’d somehow missed the Love Bites box and my collection was incomplete.
My erstwhile buddy knew it. And this was his chance to get his dirty hands on Dirty Love. The offer was made – a straight swap. Leppard for Thunder. No questions asked. No comeback. No problem.
In my defence I did deliberate for all of two minutes. It was like losing one foxy rock chick (ok, that’s pure theory as I never actually had such a thing) into Guns N Roses and Yngwie and gaining another into Cinderella and Maiden. It was an impossible deal made possible. A mind-bending exchange where you were both a winner and a loser in the fickle world of rock. But I made my choice and foresook my Dirty Love.
Ever since it’s filled me with a sense of shame. I’ve been searching for a replacement copy all of my life and each time I’ve watched the band live I’ve always dreaded what’s been coming. When Danny walked right by me on Tuesday singing the band’s greatest hit it was almost as if he knew. He paused, mouthed Dirty Love, and moved on to hug the bloke in front. I nearly wretched on the spot.
So, Paul Mason, if you’re out there and you read this then I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse for that priceless piece of plastic. But it won’t be an offer involving any of my precious vinyl. It’s taken me 20 years to learn that cruel lesson.