The Union - 'Self Titled' (Payola Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Johnny H   
Thursday, 02 September 2010 06:00

The_UnionWhen the British rock institution known as Thunder bowed out of action at 2009's Sonisphere Festival, you'll forgive me if I admit to not exactly shedding a tear at their dissolution. To me Thunder were always a bit like Status Quo.... I knew the songs, had seen them live a couple of times, but they bored the living daylights out of me. Why?  Well, personally I found their blues-soaked rock a little one dimensional and too stodgy, but with a legion of fans heart broken at their untimely demise, what does my opinion really count for eh?


Fast forward twelve short months from that swansong gig, and whilst Thunder's lead singer Danny Bowes might have decided to move on to a more "behind the scenes" type role within the industry, their erstwhile lead guitarist Luke Morley is now the driving force of a new musical union (ouch) that I implore you all to hear.


Formed as a duo with ex Winterville singer Peter Shoulder, The Union are for me everything that Thunder weren't, and the twelve tracks that make up this sublime debut are a breath of fresh air blowing through the UK rock scene.  Self produced and engineered by Nick Brine, 'The Union' contains twelve tracks honed from the very foundation stone of what you and I might refer to as "Classic British Rock", but to simply call this album "Rock" is actually doing it a massive disservice.  I'll grant you that tracks like 'Watch The River Flow' and 'Step Up To The Plate' will have those of you prone to still wearing a patch laden Wrangler jacket spunking in your pants, but it is on tracks like 'Saviour' and 'Come Rain, Come Shine' where the writers step away from their respective back catalogues and enter pastures new. 


There are hints of The Faces, Mott The Hoople, (classic era) Whitesnake, and a whole host of other bands that I could lazily roll off to try and describe what Morley and Shoulder are doing with The Union, but I'll just say that within their debut album the guys somehow manage to effortlessly bring together elements of Rock, Soul, Folk, Blues and Jazz (!!!) into a cohesive force that drags you deeper in with each repeated listen.


A couple of tracks like the high kicking 'Easy Street' and Dixieland-spirited 'Black Monday' might take you a few more listens than usual to get your heads around (it did for me), but just like the classic albums of the Seventies the rewards for sticking with them will pay you me.


The musicianship throughout this album is totally faultless, with Morley tending to take a bit of a backseat for the sake of the song, letting the space breathe and giving the whole thing a very organic feel. Shoulder meanwhile is an absolute master in the vocal department, giving a display that a prime time David Coverdale or Doyle Bramhall II would be proud of. Now just remind me how old is he again???  And let's not forget the rhythm section of Chris Childs and Phil Martin who hold all of this glorious mess together rock solid.


So, if you have a brain in your head (I'm guessing you do is you've got this far) and can sit down and actually listen to more than one song by the same band in one sitting, I really cannot recommend this album highly enough.  'The Union' is to put it bluntly...fucking excellent stuff.