Tora Tora – Bastards Of Beale (Frontiers)

Can it really be 30 years since Tennessee rockers Tora Tora landed inside the Billboard Top 50 with the sensational Surprise! Attack. Apparently so. And what better way to celebrate that landmark year than with the band’s first new material since 1992?

Bastards Of Beale puts Anthony Corder and co. back where this band always belonged – up front and centre. And in the cold light of day an album seeped in Tora Tora’s trademark swagger stands toe to toe with the quartet’s classic last 80s cuts.

On the bluesy, ballsy Everbright there’s more than a hint of vintage Mr Big and trademark Tesla. But that’s what Tora Tora bring to the table. Quality and consistency courses through the bullish Bastards Of Beale and Corder even passes for Robert Plant at his peak on the superlative Silence The Sirens.

Back in 1989 Tora Tora cemented Surprise! Attack’s overnight success by claiming a track on one of the biggest films of the year: Dancing With A Gypsy featured on the soundtrack to Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and promised to propel the band into the big time.

In spite of ardent follow up Wild America it just wasn’t to be for one of the many American bands utterly broken by the unforgiving advance of grunge. But 30 years since Tora Tora became the first band from Memphis to have a music video feature on MTV their time has come again: hit single Walkin’ Shoes might not have kicked down any doors long term but Bastards Of Beale is a triumphant step in the right direction. 

Listen to Corder on acoustic-led ballad Lights Up The River and it’s a crying shame that he’s been relatively quiet for so long. A band that built its reputation on that Surprise! Attack has only gone and caught us unaware all over again.