Review score: 88%
Review Date: October 2012
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
Welcome boys and girls to another chapter in the big book of hard rock history. So settle down while I set the scene for you.
The album: Backstreet Symphony. The year: 1990. The band: Thunder. What do you mean you haven't heard of them? I was at their first show in Southend the year before, honest guv ;-)
Following the demise of Terraplane, childhood mates Luke and Danny formed new band Thunder. With a Duran-Durany producer on board , 1990 debut album Backstreet Symphony walked in from outta nowhere. Thunder brought with them a now-classic hard rock sound with a biting edge. There's talent here, make no mistake.
Arguably more commercial than their later work, Backstreet Symphony features catchy rock tunes and pretty generic lyrics. Which ain't a bad thing. Lots of energy and fewer of the slow tracks and acoustic numbers which would appear on their later albums. In true rock style, Thunder would go on to be 'Big in Japan' you know.
Listening to Thunder today I think it's fair to say that the band's sound is very retro. By now their music deserves to be called classic rock. So, let's pick out the highlights from Backstreet Symphony:
She's so fine
From that first proper hard rock riff, She's so Fine showcases Thunder's classic rock sound. The combination of Danny Bowes' vocals and the riff based rock raw guitar sound puts the listener firmly in mind of vintage Led Zeppelin. Recommended listening for any fan of classic rock. Wonder who their muse for this number was?
Very commercial sounding, Dirty Love is a catchy sing-along rock song that would fit in perfectly with late 1980s MTV offerings. Splendidly cheesy lyrics in the traditional rock style, such as 'Like a cheap suit you ware all over me' tell you this is old school rock. If you like the contemporary sound of Poison and Whitesnake then you'll just love Thunder's Dirty Love.
The title track kicks in with auspicious guitars and retro style rocking vocals. Symphony is a short story about discovering an amazing new girlie singer/guitarist who you can't get out of your mind – both her and her music. The track is a perfect example of the genre, with Danny sounding occasional reminiscent of early Van Halen.
Girl's Going Out of her Head
More fast paced rock here, this number is about a girl gone crazy. Tight and maybe a tad over mixed, but another listenable track worthy of your attention.
Gimme Some Lovin'
Wow, what a fantastic cover of the sixties hit originally by Spencer Davis Group. Loads of people have covered it, and from the moment that fantastic Hammond organ fires up Gimme Some Lovin' will be instantly recognisable to Blue Brother fans. Thunder's cover is full of energy and respect for the original, whilst giving it a perfect hard rock twist. If you only listen to one track of the album, make it this one. Simply awesome.
It's a wonderfully nostalgic treat to kick back and listen to Thunder's enduring debut album after all these years. Kinda like when a long lost friend that hasn't changed walks in through your door, if you see what I mean. Backstreet Symphony is a fine example of pre-grunge rock.
Nope? Well, you'd better run along and listen to the album highlights on youtube or yourtunnel or whatever the young'uns call it. Then go out and buy your favourite numbers to fill up your mp3 player or – hey – here's a bad pun – add some Thunder to your Cloud (player) collection. Or do what I did and track down a cheap 2009 mega expanded super dooper deluxe re-release CD to upgrade the original. To fans of classic rock everywhere...- Go on, give Thunder a listen. You know it makes sense.
Buy Now! Amazon UK:
Buy original on CD
Buy expanded, remasterd album on CD
Buy remastered MP3s
Amazon US: Buy on CD
Track List (may vary)
- She's So Fine
- Dirty Love
- Don't Wait for Me
- Higher Ground
- Until My Dying Day
- Back Street Symphony
- Love Walked In
- An Englishman On Holiday
- Girl's Going Out of Her Head
- Gimme Some Lovin'
- Distant Thunder
At the time of writing you can pick up the original Backstreet Symphony at bargain prices. The classic track list is:
Or, if you want to go for a ton of bonus material, check out the 2009 massively expanded and remastered 2 disc edition, which gives you an extra 17 live, remastered or additional tracks for a few quid more!