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Thunder: Backstreet Symphony - Album Of The Week Club review

In which Thunder's Backstreet Symphony, an out-of-time debut by the much-loved Brit-rockers, is examined closely for evidence of greatness

Thunder: Backstreet Symphony
(Image: © Parlophone Records)
Thunder: Backstreet Symphony

Thunder

(Image credit: Parlophone Records)

She's So Fine
Dirty Love
Don't Wait for Me
Higher Ground
Until My Dying Day
Backstreet Symphony
Love Walked In
An Englishman on Holiday
Girl's Going Out of Her Head
Gimme Some Lovin'

In the early 1990s, in that overlap between glam rock and grunge, you’d have got pretty long odds on a blues-based British rock band becoming ‘the next big thing’, especially one including former members of Terraplane. 

Which is why Thunder’s debut Backstreet Symphony album came as such a bolt from the blue. Cocky, charismatic and oozing class, it was the kind of thing that hadn’t been heard since the glory days of the 70s. It also helped spark a new upturn in British hard rock.

"Thanks to Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi in the previous decade, rock was starting to become fashionable again," guitarist Luke Morley told us. "If you look at our direct competition at the time, The Quireboys were a great band but far more traditional barroom rock’n’roll, The Almighty had more in common with Motorhead, Little Angels were probably the closest to us in a stylistic sense but they were a lot younger. 

"Those seven or eight years we had on them made a great difference – experience can make you very focused. Oh, and the fact that it’s a good album."

"That first year, as well as doing God-knows how many club dates on our own, we opened for Aerosmith, Heart and a few other people as well," singer Danny Bowes told us. "Until we stepped on stage at Donington [at the 1990 Monsters of Rock festival], though, we had no idea what we’d become. You could see the album was selling nicely. But Donington was the moment that crystallised it – 80,000 people, we started the first song and all the hands went up. 

"I was like, fucking hell! The hairs are going up the back of my neck even thinking about it now. All that previous year of graft, and the four years that had gone before with Terraplane, it all kind of led to that moment and it was fantastic. That gig changed our lives."

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in March 1990

  • Beg to Differ - Prong
  • Eye - Robyn Hitchcock
  • Just Say Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne
  • Manic Nirvana - Robert Plant
  • Extricate - The Fall
  • Brigade - Heart
  • Still Got the Blues - Gary Moore
  • Social Distortion - Social Distortion
  • Representing the Mambo - Little Feat
  • Join Together - The Who

What they said...

"Backstreet Symphony is a decent hard rock offering that should have done better. Enjoyable songs ranging from rockers like Dirty Love, An Englishman on Holiday and She's So Fine to the power ballad Love Walked In showed that while Thunder wasn't the most original or groundbreaking band in the world, it wasn't lacking when it came to spirit and enthusiasm. (AllMusic)

Through no fault of its own, Backstreet Symphony isn't put atop the pedestal it deserves because Thunder were not able to fully capitalize on the momentum generated by the album, with each successive album proving to be captive to the law of diminishing returns (though I would highly recommend giving Laughing On Judgement Day a listen), and as a result the hype behind this album mostly evaporated beyond those who were already under its spell." (Metal Storm)

"The record doesn’t really offer any groundbreaking surprises in terms of lyrical approach or musicianship, but that doesn’t make it a bad one. From start to finish, Backstreet Symphony displays a great deal of skill and class, all wrapped up in a satisfying selection of hard-rockers, power-ballads and even blues-inspired tunes." (MyRockMixtapes)

What you said...

Carl Black: If you've ever wondered what 75,000 jaws hitting the floor at the same time sounds like, l search out She's So Fine by Thunder live at Donington in 1990. This was the astonishing effect that this band had when they opened up with this song. I would go as far as to say this is the best opening song at the Monsters Of Rock ever. 

Unfortunately, Thunder are not really a go-to band but that moment in time is undeniable. And if I do listen to Thunder, this is the album I would pick up. For me it's a bit like their greatest hits, which shows you how I feel about their material after 1990. Good times and fun, and it's always good to listen to every now and again. But I do get bored with it. However I never get bored of seeing that opening song at Donington on that sunny day in 1990.

Brian Carr: My favourite radio shows are throwback programming that mix in lesser known tracks rather than relying on the same overplayed hits that are constantly heard any time on rock radio. Because of this, I was familiar with Thunder’s Dirty Love from their debut Backstreet Symphony. While the song is catchy with solid riffs and vocals, it didn’t move me enough to check out more of Thunder’s catalog.

This Symphony is the kind of rock I likely would have scarfed like Halloween candy upon its release. It’s an enjoyable listen to older me, but I can also hear why rock fans of the time were itching for something new and different. Thirty years later, a riff here sounds like one band, a riff there sounds like another. The vocalist at times reminded me of Gary Cherone of Extreme and the singer from Helix at others - not terrible, but not necessarily unique to my ears. The performances are solid, but sadly, without the personal nostalgia factor, the songs are mostly just okay.

That said, Thunder’s slower tracks were well done: Don’t Wait for Me and Love Walked In were standouts. Maybe the full Backstreet Symphony will grow on me with repeated listens.

Uli Hassinger: They are a highly underrated and often overlooked band. In a time when grunge and thrash metal were hip, nobody awaited a classic hard rock band. 10 years earlier they would have been huge. I don't know a single bad album from them, and I have most of their releases.

Another fact which should be mentioned is that the band mainly consist of the founding members till the very day. That's very uncommon and shows that they are just nice guys.

They are also great live performers and were touring massively before the COVID lockdown. I hope I will have the chance to see them again.

Their debut album shows what they are about. Straight forward rockers combined with classy rock ballads. But to me the quality of the songwriting increased later on. The band stands out because of Morley as one of the best songwriters in hard rock since the 70s, and because of Bowes is one of the best singers around. Both never got the credit they deserved. Morley has the talent to build up a song, creating a tension leading to a catchy chorus. Bowes is able to scream on faster songs as well as sing soulfully on ballads. His strength to me are the softer songs, where he puts so much soul and feeling in that only a few others can compete. In this respect he can "almost" reach the class of Coverdale in the 70s. They are best described as mixture out of early Whitesnake and Foreigner.

This album has only good quality songs, but the number of blockbusters is lower than in other albums. My favourites are Don't Wait For Me, Love Walked In, Distant Thunder and the good time rock'n'roll tribute An Englishman On Holiday. The debut isn't one of their three best albums, but it's still a very solid record and a strong start. My score: 8/10.

Cameron Gillespie: A solid band set a few years behind the music trends of the time, which might suggest why they have flown well under my radar.

It's not what I'd call groundbreaking stuff, but I would have put them on the same level as some of those more popular bands that were kind of just there in the 80s and 90s i.e Whitesnake, Warrant, Poison etc, They are the kind of band you either like or don't like. A couple of bangers, and the rest is just there for the die hard fans.

I personally quite liked a lot of the songs. The cheesy lyrics remind me of Kiss's early songwriting, and usually I'm not in favour of super cheesy lyrics because the band takes those lyrics too seriously. Good cheesy lyrics for me are usually disguised creatively using a theme or double entendre e.g. Kiss's Rocket Ride. It's not to be taken seriously, and it's obviously sexual innuendo, but lyrically it's built around the theme of space travel.

In both Kiss and Thunder their cheesy lyrics work, and makes the bands a bit more fun. When taken as on face value.

Sound-wise they definitely sound Coverdale-ish. That's not a bad thing, and in some ways I think they do better Coverdale than Coverdale does. Overall a solid album by a very underrated band thats about 20 years ahead of their time. I'd rate it an 7/10.

Brett Deighton: Thunder weren’t on my radar growing up. In fact I discovered them with the Wonder Days album. No idea why I hadn’t explored the back catalogue, but that’s what I love about this group. I’m really enjoying Backstreet Symphony. It’s a long weekend down under so I know what I’m listening to. Cheers everyone.

Roland Bearne: Brace yourselves, this is going to be positive, bordering on hagiography I'm afraid! Thunder at this point are nothing short of an institution. A very beloved one at that! Having listened to most of their albums this week, finishing with All The Right Noises last night (arguably their best ever!) I feel comfortable in suggesting that theirs is one of the finest bodies of work of any British rock band. 

Their longevity is propped up by tenacity, savvy, one of the most rocking soulful voices ever to emerge from the UK, and a songwriter who's well of inspiration seems jaw-droppingly bottomless. 

I first encountered Bowes, Morley and James as Terraplane supporting Foreigner at Wembley in 1984. A long haired Danny bounded, puppy-like out onto the stage in a striped catsuit and excitedly observed "so this is Wembley"... to eye-rolling silence, followed by a committed but ultimately (sorry gents) forgettable set. 

Cut to Thunder and Backstreet Symphony. Now here was a band setting out their stall and no mistake, it felt like they made that quantum leap from trying to be something to just being who they are. That flip from striving for an audience to inviting one. 

I don't think the songs need analysis. There are rockers and ballads, heartbreak and joy in equal measure. Not one duff track here in my humble (although Distant Thunder sounds like a probably intentional Terraplane hand-me-down). On this and indeed most subsequent releases Thunder have barely faltered. They tried something different on Giving The Game Away, which feels a tad pedestrian compared to most, but otherwise, right up to their self imposed hiatus, fillers are few and far between. 

Post hiatus, they've come back stronger than ever! Their combination of musicianship, stunning songwriting, a voice which stands proudly alongside the likes of Rodgers and Winwood, and an underlying sense of silly humour and "self" make this band and this album utterly compelling. As Danny would say after a good old audience sing along: "Lovely". Taking this album and all that has come since into consideration I'm going all in. 10.

Marco LG: It is difficult to remember it now, but in 1990 the world of melodic hard rock started a process of evolution that was genuinely exciting. Listening to many albums released around that year I get a terrible feeling of missed opportunity, compounded by my deep dislike for the kind of depressing music that emerged as the commercial winner. In the end it was not grunge that killed hard rock, it was record label’s executives myopic strategies, so let’s analyse the evidence.

The trend of down-tuning the guitars did not start with any band from Seattle, it started with King’s X in 1988. Many people were listening, and in fact in 1990 George Lynch followed suit with the first Lynch Mob album, Wicked Sensation. In there the guitar hero found a new mean of expression that sounded genuinely new and exciting, without discarding the great things he’d done with Dokken, he simply went forward. The sound of down-tuned guitars is also all over The Disregard Of Timekeeping (1989), the debut album by Bonham, the band of Jason Bonham, who is way more than just the son of John.

New trends emerged in 1990: Extreme released their career defining album, the funk tinged Pornograffiti, Tesla released a game changer acoustic album, Five Man Acoustical Jam, and Cinderella (yes, Cinderella) released Heartbreak Station, taking their blues influences to the next level. The year after, in 1991, Skid Row hardened their sound in what would be their masterpiece, Slave to the Grind.

While some hard rock bands went heavier, some heavy metal bands went more melodic, and that also produced great music that wasn’t Grunge and could evolve in ways we can only imagine. Queensrÿche shed a lot of their heaviness and intricacy to release Empire, a hard rock masterpiece, both Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson released albums that fitted with the hard rock flavours of the time. Shame Iron Maiden did not follow suit, and a certain quartet from San Francisco released a deeply divisive album with a black cover. Helloween gave us Chameleon, an album so underrated nobody seems to have noticed except the haters.

Against this backdrop, record label’s executives kept pushing the same old thing, signing bands that were either trying to be the next Guns N’ Roses or the next Motley Crue. They got complacent, and when Nevermind went stratospheric on an independent label panic ensued. A classic case of throwing away the baby with the bathwater.

The quintessential example of music that sounded current and exciting in hard rock in the 1990s is Mood Swings by Harem Scarem. It came out in 1993, it sounds huge, and yet nobody seems to know anything about it. When discussing hard rock albums released out of time Mood Swings is my chief example: rooted in a long tradition going all the way back to the early 1970s, full of guitar virtuoso moments owing to Eddie Van Halen and Ritchie Blackmore in equal measure, and sounding exactly like a mid-90s album, not even a casual listener would assume this was an 80s album.

The debut by Thunder, on the other hand, came out a couple of years prior, and it does contain a lot of great music, but unlike any of the albums I mentioned so far it did not add anything to what had been said and done in the five years preceding its publication. It is a very pleasant listen but in my opinion rooted a little bit too much in the 70s and 80s, and for that reason I will score it 6 out of 10.

Tony Bickerdike: This is a really great traditional rock album that arrived at just the right time to remind everyone that hearing what a rock vocalist is singing is actually great fun.

Andrew Johnston: I walked out of so many of their shows in the 90s because they came across as bit pedestrian - also I was a big fan of Terraplane and was probably a bit pissed they didn’t play at least some of the old stuff. Saw them supporting Whitesnake eight years back and by god they’ve got better with age!

Kevin Miller: I’m having the opposite reaction of many here. I recognise the talent, but almost every song strikes me as ripping off some other song or just ticking off the checklist of 80s music. Opener She’s So Fine sounds like Paul Rogers singing a Queen song that morphs into Van Hagar. Dirty Love sounds like every song that was popular on MTV at the time and has the Mutt Lange chorus... maybe Y&T’s Summertime Girls? Don’t Wait For Me” is 100% Bad Co. Until My Dying Day also sounds very Van Hagar. 

I’ll skip several, but have to say that while I think many of the other songs are also derivative, in general, it’s good music and the guys can play... but Girl’s Going Out of Her Head is just... not good. I should admit that I find most of that 80s pop metal stuff (Dokken, Stryper, Warrent, Quiet Riot) unlistenable today, so I am biased. 5/10 for me. I‘ll give them points for chops, but I can’t see myself listening to it again.

Greg Schwepe: You know that feeling when you are going to a venue the first time for a concert or some event, and the usher takes you down to where your seat is and you go “Wow, this is really great! Great seats!” Well, that’s the feeling I got listening to Thunder’s Backstreet Symphony.

Once I get past my iconic rock band styles; this is the kind of good all-around, no nonsense rock album that I get into. Memorable guitar riffs, great vocals, four on the floor drums, well produced… a winner all around. 9 out of 10!

30 seconds into this one I was hooked. My usual M.O. for these reviews is to listen while I run. Listened to this one all the way through and towards what I thought was the end of the album kept getting a nice surprise as another track kicked in. “Another? Yes!” Again, this is just the fun kind of rock that I can listen to over and over.

A couple comments mentioned the vocals sounding like Paul Rodgers, which I agree with. At some point though when Danny Bowes reaches a little too far, he gets a little screechy, but then the next track has a slightly different vocal style, and all is forgiven. I also found him sounding a little like Dan Baird from the Georgia Satellites; but without the twang. Some of the album also sounded like late career Humble Pie, the On To Victory and Go For The Throat-era stuff.

Overall, for me, an album I can go to when I need something to crank in the car, or whatever. A good nice find and I’ll be listening to more of their stuff now.

Philip Qvist: Living in South Africa, where rock hardly gets a mention, I remember this band getting some airplay on local radio and TV, before vanishing from sight.

So I was aware of the band and I have listened to a few of their songs over the years - and today I finally got to listen to this album (and a couple of their more recent records)

Verdict?

A very good debut from a band that is firmly in the second division camp, but actually deserve far more recognition and success than that. Let's put it this way; even now, they sound far better than many so called division one bands.

As lead guitarist and chief songwriter, Luke Morley clearly runs the show, but he has the perfect foil in singer Danny Bowes - while the rest of the band, plus producer Andy Taylor, are all integral in producing a great album.

Favourite songs? The title track, She's So Fine, Love Walked In and Until My Dying Day.

Gimme Me Some Lovin' is okay but it is probably the only song close to being a downer on this album. I give this 8/10 - it could have been higher, but some of their recent output is even better. A band that deserves to be heard more often.

Lise Wolden: I've listened to this album for years, and it never gets old. I've seen them live a few times, and I think they bring the live sensation to the record. Didn't catch the album when it was first released, but it has been on a steady return over the years.

Mike Canoe: While I wasn't listening to Bonnie Raitt in 1990, I wasn't really seeking out bands like Thunder either. What I remember most of hard rock from that era were bands trying to out-sleaze Guns N' Roses, bands counting on a power ballad to climb the charts, or bands trying to straddle both camps. Heaven isn't too far away when she's my cherry pie.

Thunder just revs right up the middle of the freeway. Backstreet Symphony is a straightforward hard rock album. I like it best when the band's having fun and, I've noticed, when they keep the songs under four and a half minutes. The chugging title track goes on the list for great rock 'n' roll songs about rock 'n' roll. Girl's Going Out of Her Head and An Englishman on Holiday are excellent party songs, the former frantic and the latter a pub crawl in musical form. I also like how they tip the hat to their British forebears with their thumping cover of Gimme Some Lovin' by Raven. Just kidding - but I love that version too.

Kudos to Danny Bowes and his remarkably powerful and soulful voice. He elevates ballads like Don't Wait for Me and helps me sail past the bad girl clichés in Dirty Love. The whole thing is sympathetically produced for maximum wallop by Duran Duran's Andy Taylor, who was able to briefly reinvent himself as a power pop guitar hero in the late '80s.

Grunge, baby, bathwater - we all know how that story goes. I know I'll be listening to the fun ones on Backstreet Symphony a while longer.

Iain Macaulay: Remembered the band name, couldn’t remember any tracks. So I came at this listen totally open. First track... okay. I think I get what’s coming here. Kind of bluesy rock with Hollywood sheen. Okay. Not my thing but, let’s see. Then Dirty Love came on, and I was instantly transported right back to a rock club in Edinburgh in 1990. Backstreet Symphony did the same. Filling my mind with pictures of blue denim and white baseball boots head banging on the dance floor while throwing air guitar shapes. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Good days. A great club. However, I will say, I preferred black.

While it’s obvious the band can play, and the production is really crisp, the rest of the album does nothing but reminded me of lots of other bands to be honest. That whole Free, Bad Company, Whitesnake, even touches of Aerosmith, kind of thing. Songs about women and hard partying. Like I said, not my thing but an entertaining listen none the less. If not for the memories

Joseph Biron: Whoa, yet another British band that hadn’t crossed my radar. Immediate feedback on first skip through: fantastic sound. Drums, vocals, guitar, bass all sound great. Really solid production, songs are catchy as hell, great riffs and hooks, and doesn’t try to get too flashy. Yes, as others noted, I hear lots of “tributes” to other bands, but I would not call it derivative- certainly not more than most other rock. And so what if it is? It’s a great listen. I dig it.

Tony Fuerte: Like many others, I initially heard of the band through Dirty Love. Love Walks In got played to death on the Blaze (Chicago’s hair metal station at the time). Like I mentioned earlier, I did not care about them at all. For whatever reason, I put this on one of the streaming sites and listened through and was taken back by how good the album sounded overall. And the expanded edition, with the b-sides and demos, is as solid as the album. While it’s passé to buy discs these days, now have to find a physical copy for the collection.

Kevin Miller: First impression: Paul Rogers singing for Whitesnake with a splash of Poison.

John Davidson: When Thunder appeared on the scene in 1990 they were a band out of time playing polished, melodic Bad Company style hard rock to a base that were more used to the glam trash of Guns N' Roses and the tempered fury of Metallica as well as the more commercially focussed ‘hair metal’ bands who were still riding high on the hog (even if they were about to be replaced by plaid wearing punks from Seattle).

There was a bit of a pre ‘britpop’ revival in UK-based hard rock in 1990/91 with Thunder, Quireboys and Little Angels all getting airplay on MTV, but I’m not convinced they had much exposure outside these shores.

Despite being their first album, Back Street Symphony shows the band in full flight with a collection of standout songs. She’s So Fine, Dirty Love, Higher Ground, Back Street Symphony and Love Walked In are all top notch rockers with plenty of singalong choruses and decent guitars. The two key players (Bowes and Morley) had worked together before in Terraplane so it's not such a huge surprise that they hit the ground running here.

The rest of the album are more b-sides than album deep cuts - other than the spirited cover of Gimme Some Lovin’ - by which I mean they are structured like the hits but just aren’t quite as good.

If I have a criticism of Thunder it's just that they don’t stray out of their lane on this album - they were setting out to deliver crossover commercial hard rock rather than anything challenging and that's exactly what they do.

They were to go on to produce an even better album in Laughing On Judgement Day, but by then the tide was turning towards grunge and they were fighting a losing battle against musical tastes.

For me, they hit the spot between Whitesnake’s bluesy Marsden/Moody era and the commercial overkill of 1987 and you can’t argue with an album that is 7/11 killers and 4 decent back up tracks. 8/10.

Bill Griffin: I not only haven't heard this album before, I've never even heard of the band before. Odd with all of the videos made for this record.

I hear a lot of Chris Cornell in Danny Bowes vocals; not a bad person to sound like.

I really like this and wish I had been aware when it was new but it's definitely going into my collection now.

I don't think they are heavy enough for the name "Thunder" though. If they suffered popularity wise (in the U.S. anyway), that's probably the reason because the music is excellent and their record companies were obviously eager to promote them.

Richard Maw: Great record. Very unlucky to have been released when it was. The right band at the wrong time. Far superior to the other Brit-rock of the day (The Quireboys etc). Really strong performances and production. It's a music industry injustice that they weren't internationally massive.

Oliver Mueller: A superb album by a one of the best bands of all time. Amazing vocals by Danny Bowes and outstanding guitar work by Luke Morley! Definitely no fillers on this album with especially Loved Walked In standing out as being from another world. 10/10 points, although the follow up Laughing On Judgement Day is even better in my humble opinion, not only because it includes legendary Low Life In High Places. Have seen them several times live throughout the years, with probably the best and most intimate experience at the Dingwalls in London/Camden in 2000.

Anthony Hawkins: One of the greatest debut albums by any band. Every track is a stormer. As great as their subsequent releases were and still are, I don't think they've ever actually topped Backstreet Symphony for sheer quality from start to finish.

Alan Hayden: Thunder are one of the few bands I can say I have followed throughout from the very start of their career to the present day. I first got this album copied on a C90 cassette with Giant's Last Of The Runaways on the other side... an album worthy of discussion in its own right. 

There are few recent songwriters I feel are as strong as Luke Morley. I think he has real pop sensibilities. He has a real knack of writing catchy songs with a real hook, and when he gets it right, he really gets it right. Dirty Love is perhaps the song that best exemplifies that on this album with the "na na nah" chorus. There are heartfelt ballads here too... Don't Wait For Me is excellent. The live version heard in Manchester many moons ago was simply perfect. The song showcases Danny Bowes' fantastic voice. He is one of the most consummate front men, exuding a real warmth on stage. Thunder are perhaps the band I have seen most often, with perhaps the most emotional night being with my wife when we found out she was pregnant.

The two side openers are really strong and again showcase Bowes' voice, the intertwining guitars of Morley and Matthews and catchy choruses.

For me the stand out track was Higher Ground. Its lyrics of wanting to break away from a small town mentality spoke to the 14 year old me in spades.

Following Thunder through their career you see different sides to Luke Morley the songwriter. The themes of laddishness (An Englishman On Holiday) and women chasing start to become more political from time to time on later albums from Low Life In High Places, and especially so on the latest album, but there's also wistful reminiscing as on Wonder Days.

Perhaps not the most coherent review of an album, but I think this is a superb album by a band I have loved for over thirty years. They had a lean spell but are a force to be reckoned with again in terms of albums. What never changed was their ability to put on a great concert. I look forward to seeing them again next year.

Alex Hayes: To this day, well over two decades later, I still feel like Thunder 'owe' me some kind of live performance.

Sunday the 25th of June 1995 was one of the hottest days of that year. It found myself and a friend at the old Wembley Stadium with 72,000 other rockers for a massive gig headlined by Bon Jovi and also featuring Van Halen. It was an outstanding day overall as we sweltered under the sun. Bon Jovi were excellent, and I finally got to see one of my all-time musical heroes, Eddie Van Halen, in the flesh. However, I still ended up feeling a tad short-changed. See, Thunder had also been billed to appear that day, but ended up a no-show.

Years later, I happened to read an interview with Danny Bowes, Thunder's charismatic lead vocalist. He explained that the band had refused to play that day after a disagreement with Jon Bon Jovi. Bloody typical for me that. I'm joking about being owed a free gig of course, but, unfortunately, silly little setbacks like that seem to have been a feature throughout Thunder's career.

Thunder were the standout act amongst a clutch of quality new bands that broke onto the British rock scene at the outset of the 1990s, who between them briefly seemed poised to become the next 'big thing'. Alongside contemporaries like The Quireboys, Little Angels and The Almighty, the long-term future for Thunder looked very bright indeed, only for them to then suffer the indignity of having all their momentum pulled out from under them by grunge and the alternative rock scene of the 90s (confound it to hell).

Consequently, although Thunder have always been able to rely on a loyal and decently sized fanbase here in the UK, they've never come close to troubling the major leagues commercially. What a shame.

Backstreet Symphony, the band's classy 1990 debut album, still defines them to a certain degree. What are still regarded as some of Thunder's best known songs (She's So Fine, Dirty Love, Love Walked In, their cover of Gimme Some Lovin', UK Top 40 hits all) originated here and Thunder have never truly managed to eclipse either the impact or legacy that this album generated. They opened the festivities at Donington that year, going down a storm with the crowd. I was 15 at the time and remember listening to their set at home on BBC Radio One, on what was another hot and sunny day.

You just can't keep a good band down though and, thankfully, Thunder are still going strong. They released their terrific 13th studio album, All The Right Noises, just over a month ago. Around that time, I took an eight mile hike over the hills to check out the Singing Ringing Tree sculpture, the one that graces that album's cover, for myself on, yep, yet another glorious and unseasonably sunny day. The sculpture is absolutely genuine and sits on the moors overlooking the northern town of Burnley.

I've still got Backstreet Symphony on vinyl and love listening to the album to this day, over 30 years later. I have a similar affection for The Quireboys' debut, A Bit Of What You Fancy, also released in 1990. Good memories and a highly recommended British debut album. Long may Thunder continue to rock.

Final Score: 8.06⁄10 (172 votes cast, with a total score of 1388)

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