on Judgment Day.
Ahem. The drift is that Thunder are reclaiming rock from its latterday domicile Stateside. From a (spurious) cred point ofview, the Yanks have been doing all the running oflate. with the Big Gun(ner)s and you-know-who reviving and revving rock as a credible force. Us, we‘ve always had such titans as Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, plus latterday ascendants like The Almighty and Gun. But it‘s taken these five Londoners to crash the party. impress the party animals. and hog the stereo.
Thunder’s debut album. 1990‘s Backstreet Symphony. gave rise to five Top 40 singles and went gold. Am I alone in being unable to recall more than two of those hits? Don‘t matter. What does matter is that the likes of Axl Rose. Whitesnake’s David Coverdale, and Aerosmith‘s Steve Tyler and Joe Perry did hear the stuff, caught the shows, and spread the word. Thunder found themselves feted over the Pond as the (latest) heirs ofThe Who and Led Zeppelin‘s solid gold legacy. playing shows with American rock’s behemoths, and landing a tidy little deal with Geffen.
Now, two-and-a-halfyears later Laughing 0n Judgment Day is the weighty, 70-minute long. Top Ten second album. Thunder are on the cusp of visiting the world again. to
consolidate their slot in the future annals of rock. And here to tell us all about this hairytale story is Gary ‘Harry‘ James. their mad and bald drummer. He‘s having his cranium massaged by their press officer. ‘Cranium. not ego!‘ he chortles. l chuckle.
Says Harry. ‘With the first album. the band formed in January 1989. Snake and Benny joined in July. we recorded the album in August. and it came out the following March. 1990.
‘What happened was that a demo tape of the first session we did got a little bit out oforder. and reached all the record companies. They went “Wow, what is this. who is this. we wanna sign ‘em.“ So they came down to the studio. saw us play and said. “This is brilliant. we want it." And we said. “No. you can‘t have it. we want EMI.“ And. luckily. EMI wanted us. Not many bands are in the fortunate position of being able to pick and choose.‘
Was the fervour stoked by the fact that nobody in a long time had heard ofa metal band from Britain who were giving it such big licks. big passion?
‘Yeah. that‘s right, exactly. exactly. There were Led Zeppelin and Bad Company references bandied about. They thought maybe there was one member ofone of those bands in Thunder. But it was just us.‘
Harry proceeds to diss his experiences in Terraplane. the previous home of himself. vocalist Danny Bowes. and guitarist Luke Morley (the latter also fulfils a role similar to Extreme‘s Nuno Bettencourt. as chiefsongwriter and producer for the band).
‘That‘s why Thunder is a bit more aggressive. a bit more angry. We've seen all the bullshit. It didn't give us a bad attitude. it just gave us a new attitude.‘
A new attitude pepping up a traditional. tried and tested sound. Thunder‘s rock breaks no moulds, takes few chances. Its strengths lie in its ballsy might. the gravelly soul of Bowes‘s vocals (recalling those of
raunchy Lothario David Coverdale).
and the way they can fleetineg chuck in surprises like a towering horn section on ‘Everybody Wants Her‘ or the bare blues bones of ‘A Better Man‘. Thunder‘s rock has
confidence and crossover appeal.
those big licks tempered by big pop potential. ‘People ask me what Thunder do.‘
says our shaven-headed guide. ‘and I
say. “Well. it‘s classic rock. but you also sing along to it ifyou want to. you can be sick to it. you can have a dance to it.“ And you can let your hair down. which is a favourite of mine . . .‘
Thunder play the Playhouse Theatre. Edinburgh on Fri2.
j V CLASSICAL
; OFF-COLOUR ! CAST
Like, as they say. true love, the course of opera does not always run smoothly. II Trovatore. with its notoriously confused plot is a good example. Much takes place before the curtain rises. and, although it is explained soon after. it‘s pretty difﬁcult to grasp exactly what is happening. (It would be impossible to relate the tale here, so reading up beforehand will help. although. ifyou just want to be swept away by the music, Verdi's sense of dramatic power will not be lost.)
But in Scottish Opera‘s new production. it is not only the finished product which has its share of turmoil; the company has not had an easy ride in its preparations either. There is a major cast change in the tenor role of Manrico and rehearsal time has been fraught with illness. Singing Leonora is the 34-year-old Australian Lisa Gasteen, Cardiff Singer of the World in 1991 , who herself was ill. ‘1 was really sick the first week of rehearsals— voiceless with flu,‘ she says. However. even though the opera does not end happily, the production bodes differently. ‘I think it‘s going to be good,‘ she continues. ‘The set is very simple, quite static and uncomplicated, and the production tries hard not to get sucked into the sentimentality ofthe piece.’ The replacement Manrico, Birmingham-
born Kenneth Collins. is
good news too. ‘I did Trovatore in Sydney with Ken. so it's a small world.‘
' Gasteen’s appearance with Scottish Opera is one of only two roles she has accepted from numerous
3 offers after the Cardiff
competition. With her feet ﬁrmly on the ground. she
has weathered the
frustrations and annoyance of having to
turn down mature
dramatic soprano roles —
such as Brunnhilde or
Lady Macbeth - at major
houses. Maybe one day.
but for now she promises
to be a stunning Leonora.
II Trovatore opens at the
Theatre Royal. Glasgow
on Tue 29.
The List 25 September — 8 October 1992 27