Thunder have always aimed to strive better than their last record and this is certainly true of Rip It Up. What was produced and recorded at Rock Field Studios, Wales in 2016 is 11 tracks of pure hard rock gold. Rip It Up is plucked from the creativity of the Thunder founders Danny Bowes and Luke Morely, backed by Ben Matthew, Chris Childs and ‘Harry’ James.
Thunder gave birth to Backstreet Symphony in 1990 – an album full of fist-fuelled tracks like “Dirty Love” and “Love Walked In”. Their sound hit the hearts of ’70s hard rock fans – a sound that was to be overshadowed by the storm of grunge. It seemed that the band had that “born a little too late” syndrome and didn’t do as well as they should have done in the ’90s.
The band persisted and 27 years later they’ve released their eleventh studio album. Rip It Up is following their comeback record Wonder Days which was a Top 10 success.
The record opens with striding guitar riffs on “No One Gets Out Alive”. Danny Bowes begins the introduction with the brash lyrics, “I’m not gonna live forever, but that’s alright with me”. The combination already promises a bold record and a uplifting tone to start from.
The band trace back to their old school party days with ‘She Likes The Cocaine’ – a filthy stain of a track which is hard to scrub off the brain. Danny Bowes’ voice adds that much needed gravely tone. He drops down a few notes and is almost unrecognisable in this track.
Thunder have included some of their signature power ballads with “Right From The Start” and signing off with “There’s Always A Loser”. For the more sentimental, the band doesn’t disappoint.
But, I came for songs I can drink to. I find exactly that in “Shakedown” – a heavier crash of guitars, rhythm and gutsy vocals. And the boys seem to have not forgotten the days of booze, women and rock ‘n’ roll in this one. Especially women, which is evident in “In Another Life” which speaks about the one that got away. With it’s laid back strums, this is a Sunday morning pleaser.
The ability to create guitar solos and easily recognisable riffs is flattered by “The Chosen One” and “The Enemy Inside”. Both are not stand out tracks but still feel true to the Thunder form. “Heartbreak Hurricane” is a dynamic twist of sporadic riffs and feels almost cinematic. It’s one of their boldest tracks with plenty of hooks and dives.
The previously released title track is a stomper. I can almost hear Thunder performing “Rip It Up” and I know it’s going to be a good one to add to their impressive live setlist.
There are no risks in Rip It Up, but why should there be if they have the formula of a great classic rock record? Their Carpe Diem message is delivered in true Thunder style, and is the reason they’ve managed to master the storm of three long decades.
No One Gets Out Alive / Rip It Up / She Likes The Cocaine / Right From The Start / Shakedown / Heartbreak Hurricane / In Another Life / The Chosen One / The Enemy Inside / Tumbling Down / There’s Always A Loser
Rip It Up Is Available Now Here on Vinyl, Streaming and CD