Thunder – The Greatest Hits (BMG)
First off, let’s address the obvious elephant in the room. There should have been more. So many more. This might be the ultimate career-spanning Thunder retrospective but one of British rock’s greatest bands deserve to be remembered for double the number of so-called Greatest Hits.
When the various members of sidelined pop rockers Terraplane rose phoenix-like in the early 90s, the timing could hardly have been worse. Within 18 months of dazzling debut Backstreet Symphony hitting the shelves, Nirvana dropped Nevermind and bands like Thunder were already staring into the abyss.
That the bullish blues rockers were still bothering the Top 40 singles charts as late as 2006 (The Devil Made Me Do It makes a welcome appearance here) is testimony to the quintet’s refusal to throw in the towel. But without grunge, who knows? Thunder could – and probably would – have made a much bigger noise the world over.
In 2019 there’s no appetite for churning our chart-busting singles. And absolutely no chance of replicating that early run of 14 Top 40 tunes in six years. But that’s not to say Thunder are no longer in the business of making brilliant new music: the band’s last three long players have broken the Top 10 and spawned a slew of arena-ready anthems that stand toe to toe with Backstreet Symphony’s finest works and the cream of follow-up Laughing On Judgement Day’s iconic tracks.
Wonder Days and Rip It Up, from the 2015 and 2017 albums of the same name, are two of the most outstanding tunes here and serve as a welcome reminder that chief songwriter Luke Morley remains a true master of his craft. The perfect foil for Danny Bowes’ soulful tones, Thunder’s multi-talented guitarist is enjoying an Indian summer when it comes to making genuinely affecting rock music.
Of course, the early adopters will love everything about The Greatest Hits. The devilish Dirty Love, wondrous Love Walked In and evocative A Better Man showcase a band that took the immersive blues of Cream and Free and added a decisive pop rock twist – leading the charge as an exciting new wave of homegrown heroes briefly threatened to topple their US peers in the final days of the pre-Nevermind era.
But where Thunder is concerned, that was only the beginning of a quite remarkable story. The Greatest Hits is exactly that. And so much more.
Main image by Adam Kennedy