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Thunder - 'All You Can Eat' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 24, 2016    
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The documentary makes this an essential purchase for any fan of this British institution.

The release of 'Wonder Days' in January 2015 saw Thunder release their best album in many a year, seeing them back in the "Top 10 Album Chart" and making the step-up to Arena headliners. A year later, 'All You Can Eat' is a three-disc package that celebrates and tells the story of that album in typically classic Thunder style.

Disc one is entitled "Hors D'oeuvres – The RAK Session" and documents when earMUSIC booked the band into the RAK Studios in London for a two-day recording and rehearsal session in November 2014, mere days before their Live appearance at the Brooklyn Bowl/02 Arena. As guitarist Ben Matthews was still recuperating from his health problems, Luke Morley's The Union partner Peter Shoulder was drafted in as back-up. They set up in the studio and ran through fourteen songs, without breaks, recording them 100% live without any overdubbing. This disc features all fourteen tracks and, as you would expect from Thunder, is of phenomenal quality. Yes, the overall sound is raw due to the lack of layering, but Danny Bowes in particular sounds absolutely amazing. What I really like is that some of the between-song banter has been included – after an energetic rendition of 'The Thing I Want' Bowes is heard to utter "that felt good"!

The songs consist of eight of the '...Days' tracks – basically everything except the two ballads and 'The Prophet' – hearing them in this stripped-back and raw form is amazing. The remaining six numbers are all covers; now everybody knows just how good Thunder are at doing covers, but this selection is something else. We get Frankie Miller's 'Be Good To Yourself', Thin Lizzy's 'The Rocker', Stevie Wonder's 'Superstitious', a cracking take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Up Around The Bend' (which is worth the price of admission alone), The Beatles 'I'm Down' and Free's 'The Stealer'.

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The second disc, "The Main Course – Live At The Brooklyn Bowl', is the entire show that followed the RAK session, a free show for fans organised in conjunction with Classic Rock magazine. Naturally some of those '...Days' songs are given their first live airing, and though unfamiliar to the audience, they slot neatly into the set alongside the regular classics 'Backstreet Symphony', 'The Devil Made Me Do It', 'Low Life In High Places', the ubiquitous 'Dirty Love' and the seldom-heard 'Just Another Suicide'. Some of the covers from the RAK session ('...Yourself', '...Rocker' and '...Bend') are also present. Do we need another Thunder Live recording? Of course we do... it's amazing!

The final disc, 'Dessert – The Wonder Days Film' is for me the highlight of the set, a DVD documentary that tells the story of the reformation in 2011 and how it led to the recording of '...Days' and the ensuing tour. Extensive band interviews with all band members (individually and as a group) are interspersed with studio footage and performance clips from the RAK session, the Brooklyn Bowl session, their appearance at Loud Park in Tokyo and some awesome shots from the Arena tour that promoted '...Days'. The story is told in typical Thunder style, humorous and informative, and though the poignant subject of Matthews' illness is fairly prevalent throughout, it's handled tactfully and respectfully, with Matthews himself lightening the subject with some self-deprecating humour. The camaraderie in the group interviews in particular demonstrate just what a tight-knit community Thunder are, the "outtakes" at the end are absolutely hilarious.

Though a lot of the songs are repeated across the musical discs, the documentary makes this an essential purchase for any fan of this British institution. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder how we ever managed when they weren't around.

Ant Heeks

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