Firstly, I admit to being a loyal Thunder fan, travelling the UK to get to the front row of whatever shows I can get to, pre-ordering the new releases, and attending as many of the obscure events as I can... to the point where I even run the Thunder fan page on Facebook. You could call it an 'issue' of mine, but let's face it, these guys warrant every ounce of support they get, and the fans are so loyal because there is no ego and no nonsense from this band, just effort and consistent quality. Having said that, 'quality' isn’t always ideal, and for me, 'Rip It Up' was certainly a 'grower'.
13th February 2015 saw Thunder release their tenth studio album, 'Wonder Days' after a painful 8 year wait since 'Bang!', but it was evident that over that time, Thunder came back stronger, and ready to make an impact again. 'Wonder Days' was marketed fantastically, supported by a strong PR team, and the finished product was superb. A storming success, to say the least, so there is no wonder why 2017's 'Rip It Up' was so highly anticipated.
Much like the majority of Thunder albums, it’s built with a balanced selection of heavy hitters and signature heart-filled ballads that offer everything the seasoned Thunder pro desires, from tasteful guitar solos, to the blues vocal styling from front man, Danny Bowes.
The album comes straight in with the upbeat and feel-good 'No One Gets Out Alive'. This song sends you straight into familiar territory if you're accustomed to the band’s back catalogue. Personally, this one was quick to become a favourite. it just has exactly what I want from this band and set high expectations, right from the starting gate.
The title track, 'Rip It Up' follows, and again, it's exactly what you'd expect to hear from this band, though not in any negative sense. Though the song is fairly simple in its approach, It's smothered with tasteful riffs and licks, a consistent, solid rhythm from Harry James and Chris Childs and the uplifting, motivational lyrics really speak to any listener, and could even be a hat tip to Thunder's career experiences, maybe?
Though the album stays fairly consistent, there are some tracks that threw me a little. 'She Loves The Cocaine' being the main culprit, but whilst my opinion is a little guarded on this one, I imagine a lot of listeners will love that Wah-Wah guitar and mellow pace. Also, track 4, 'Right From the Start', and track 14, 'There's Always a Loser' failed to take my breath away like most Thunder ballads do, but on both tracks, Danny's voice is pretty spectacular for the duration, especially when it comes to the choruses. Luke Morley has laid down beautiful solos that sing just as much as Danny's voice, and I will always have to appreciate Ben Matthew's beautiful work on the keys. A thunder album wouldn't be the same without it.
Onwards from these tracks, I feel that the album progresses nicely, gaining strength and appeal, with 'Shakedown' being a sure sign of this. This song works so well with 'Rip It Up' following in a similar vein. The dirty groove and heavier sound throughout make this a perfect track for any live setting and gives a taste of the darker side of Thunder, which I happen to love.
Usually, mid way into an album, I find myself wanting to take a little break, but not this time, because track six, 'Heartbreak Hurricane', is a cleanser! It's exactly what you need at this point in an album. A sound diversion, and something a little out of the ordinary. Quickly, you feel something is a little different with this particular song. After a short intro riff, the song takes a 3 beat pattern, where all other songs on this album follow a 4/4, and whether the listener is aware of this or not, I'm sure everyone felt it. I'm so impressed with this track, so much so, I'd call it one of their strongest... ever. It's offering something different without going too far from the track. A song I'm very interested in hearing on the forthcoming tour, but it's the same story for the following tracks. They work seamlessly together, and I'm sure everyone will be singing along during the shows in March, because the loaded rhythms and lyrics are exactly what the majority of fans have been craving since 'Wonder Days', I'm sure of it. This album just feels like it was written for live performances. I guess we'll find out on the tour!
'Rip It Up' will most definitely be a favourite for 2017, amongst many. Well done, boys! You've done it again... and again.