Thunder - 'Rough & Ready' (STC) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Matt Phelps   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 05:30

thunderdiscuseThundercats rejoice! The magnificent five, aka Thunder, are back again. Well not properly or indeed for very long but with a recently announced "one off" festival appearance lined up for the summer and this new 4 disc gatefold digipack to add to our collections things are looking brighter for me and the Thunder loonies (fans to the layperson) than they have done for the last couple of years.


'Rough & Ready' is split between two shows. The "Rough" is covered over the first 2 discs. Recorded straight from the sound board it is essentially a bootleg, hence the name. There have been no "studio fixes" so what happened on the night is what you get. Taken from Club Citta, Kawasaki, Japan on July 3rd 2005 it captures Thunder on the last night of the Japanese tour delivering a faultless set of Western rock to Eastern die hards.


Kicking off with 'Loser' the party is soon started and classics like 'Higher Ground', 'She's So Fine' and 'Low Life In High Places' are knocked out as equally as the newer tracks like 'Amy's On The Run' and 'I'm Dreaming Again'. Thunder never were and never will be, whatever form they're in, a band to rest back on yesteryear's successes. New songs were written to be played and the musicianship and talent shown here just proves why Thunder were one of the most revered bands of their generation.


Obviously with this show being recorded straight from the mixing desk it leaves the boisterous crowd rather disappointingly quiet in the background but like I said this is in all but name a bootleg and should be enjoyed as such. That said Harry James's drums are still as thunderous as ever and create a solid backbone of rhythmic excellence alongside bassist Chris Childs. Together they provide the base for Luke Morley and Ben Matthews to sign out with an astonishing twin lead climax on 'Fade Into The Sun'. 'You Can't Keep A Good Man Down', 'Dirty Love' and more to the point Danny Bowes will always be as instantly infectious as they always have been and even the slightly muffled crowd volume doesn't hide the obvious enjoyment that everyone at Club Citta had almost six years ago.


Discs 3 and 4 are a more glossy affair sound wise. Still free of any studio meddling after the event the tracks here enjoyed a proper multi track recording at Shepherds Bush Empire, March 10th 2005. Quite why Thunder see fit to release this double whammy of live shows culled from so long ago now and when the shows in question have no real importance to the history of the band is a question I'm not all too concerned with. If it says Thunder on the tin then I embrace it, no questions asked.


Again 'Loser' tees off but this Shepherds Bush set does differ slightly from the Japanese show. We get the sublime 'Love Walked In' and the riotously catchy groove of 'Backstreet Symphony' thrown out to the ravenous loonies. A choir in fine voice fills the Empire to its rafters. Does it feel like live? Hell yeah it does. The crowd is far clearer on 'Ready' than on 'Rough' and the volume of applause clearly indicates the level of enthusiasm and participation that Ringmaster Bowes and his merry men manage to incite in their loyal subjects. Close your eyes and sit back and you could almost be there, sweating, cheering, rocking and clapping. Bouncing up and down around the living room while listening is not optional.


As big a Thunder fan as I am and as happy as I am to have 'Rough & Ready' in my geeky collection I'd say that it is essentially just for Thunder completists such as myself. A unique snapshot of the band at a certain touring point in their history. If your were at any of the shows on the tour then it's a great piece of nostalgia to sit in your Thunder display cabinet alongside your signed tickets, CDs and after show passes (just me?) but if you're a relatively new fan who missed out on catching Thunder live in their prime and you're looking to explore the bands legacy then the double disc 'Thunder Live' from 1998 still remains, for me at least, the ultimate live Thunder experience.


'Rough & Ready' is only available exclusively from Thunder themselves, get it here -