Why I ❤️ Montrose's debut album, by Thunder guitarist Luke Morley

Montrose album cover and Luke Morley
(Image credit: Warner Bros | Luke Morley: Jason Joyce)

I remember exactly where I was standing in the Saxon Tavern, Bellingham, south London one Friday night in 1976 when I first heard Space Station #5. I had to know who this was. And once I found out I pestered the poor DJ relentlessly until he played it again later that evening. 

The next day, I tried to buy the album but couldn’t find it anywhere on my manor, so I jumped on a train into town and found a copy in a little shop in Soho. I played the album to death. And once I’d played it to the band I was in at that time, we began to cover Rock Candy, another song from the album. 

To this day I still think the values underpinning this album are very similar to ours in Thunder. There’s nothing too self-indulgent, just blues-tinged vocals, big guitars and drums and, most importantly, songs you can remember. 

Built around former Egdar Winter guitarist Ronnie Montrose, the band featured the youthful and at that time unknown vocalist Sammy Hagar, along with Denny Carmassi on drums and Bill Church on bass.

From opener Rock The Nation through to the end of the fade out on closing track Make It Last, this album never lets up for a second. It’s in-your-face, uncomplicated and, as all great rock’n’roll albums should be, uplifting. This album is one of the most important and influential hard rock albums of the 70s. Montrose built a bridge between 70s blues rock (Led Zeppelin, Free, Humble Pie etc) and what was to come in the 80s with the likes of Van Halen

Much credit must go to the album’s producer, Ted Templeman, who gave Montrose a ‘live’, almost three-dimensional sound unlike anything that had come before it. When you listen to it it’s almost as though you’re in the room sitting among the band. Templeman later went on to perfect this technique with the first Van Halen album. 

Despite the consistency of the record as a whole, there are stand out tracks: as well as the aforementioned Space Station #5 and Rock Candy there’s Bad Motor Scooter and the band’s dynamite reworking of the old Roy Brown song (originally made famous by Elvis Presley) Good Rockin’ Tonight. 

As with all great albums, Montrose hasn’t dated and still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did 30 years ago. So if you’re a fan of straight-ahead, unpretentious hard rock and you don’t have it in your collection, shame on you!

Thunder's All The Right Noises is out now. This feature originally appeared in Classic Rock 112.