The essence of Seventies hard rock, honed to perfection
I first saw Thunder supporting Aerosmith on the Pump Tour of the UK and to be honest I would have paid my money just for the support band. To hear a band for the first time and find yourself speechless is something that has rarely happened to me, normally I hear the CD and can’t wait to catch the band or I’ve heard a few tracks and become interested enough to venture out to see the band, but to actually catch a band you’ve never heard a note from and get a show like that!
‘Backstreet Symphony’ is an album for all those that love classic 70s rock and great music in general. That Thunder would debut with an album of this sheer quality was also a bit of a surprise as I’d heard Terraplane that band from which Luke Morley (guitarist and chief songwriter) and Danny Bowes (vocals) came from and believe me they were nothing special. Andy Taylor (Duran Duran) actually does a great production job on this too.
Listening to the album today it stands up excellently. This sort of music really is timeless. You can hear the Bad Company, the Free, the Zeppelin, and Humble Pie influences clearly but this isn’t a rip-off it’s an interpretation of those classic sounds. It’s hard to pick lowlights as every track deserves its place for one reason or another; but if you look at the singles you see the real cream. The fact that so many of the songs here were part of the live set during their farewell tour this year shows what a great album this was.
‘Dirty Love’ for me is the peak a down and dirty rocker with a great riff that was made to get the crowd singing. By the time Thunder played Donington in 1990 everyone loved them. I had never seen a band go down so well in an opening slot and that day more were packed in the crowd for Thunder than the three bands that followed them! They looked like they would take on the world and actually break the States then came Mr. Cobain with all his angst, his wardrobe of flannel shirts and that riff that ripped off ‘More Than a Feeling’ by Boston. And that effectively was it. Not many bands were done over by grunge as effectively as Thunder who overnight became an anachronism. Their great live following of course kept them a going concern and they continued to produce quality albums but world domination was off the menu.
‘Backstreet Symphony’ shows a remarkable maturity for a first album and I suppose that can be put down to a great partnership between Bowes and Morley and years of practice. Like most first albums this was the culmination of the best of the early days which is always why so many second albums fall over by comparison.