Since Thunder reconvened in 2002, they have steadily been rebuilding their profile with extensive touring of the UK, Europe and Japan, alongside some prestigious festival appearances. 'Robert Johnson's Tombstone', Thunder's third album since their reunion and their eighth in all, sees the guys once again deliver a solid set of rockers and power ballads which (mostly) is exactly what their utterly devoted fans would expect.
This time around however, the band and specifically writer Luke Morley have tried a few new things out; the title track which leads this album off has a distinctly bluesier feel - appropriate, considering the subject of the song is celebrated bluesman Robert Johnson, around whose legend the album artwork is themed, with extrovert drummer Harry James suitably attired in 'devil' horns, suit and face paint.
Following the title track, 'Dirty Dream' keeps things bubbling; a mid-paced rocker typical of the band's style, and the lyrical theme concerns those fantasies people keep secret about those colleagues they see regularly. 'A Million Faces' comes next, a power ballad that treads a familiar 'light and shade' path; In the style of the début album's 'Love Walked In', Luke Morley's acoustic starts things off, before the band kick in all guns blazing for the second chorus. The band pull this trick off time and again thanks to the incredible vocals of singer Danny Bowes; he doesn't just sing these songs, he FEELS them and the effect never fails to startle the listener. 'Don't Wanna Talk About Love'; a rock track built on a Morley riff chunkier than an entire warehouse filled with Yorkie bars, follows before the track chosen as their single: 'The Devil Made Me Do It'. An upbeat track whose lyric is written from the viewpoint of an easily-tempted indvidual who blames 'the devil' for his misdeeds, this song has a particularly witty lyric from Morley. I was especially amused by the 'tissues and tension' line in the first verse!
This song has scraped into the UK charts thanks to a co-ordinated campaign by the band's loyal fans, and they were rewarded with a valuable piece of airplay on Radio One's chart show.
Things take a darker turn lyrically with 'Last Man Standing'; dealing with the 'war on terror' this song is a biting rebuke to Messrs Bush and Blair for the way they have handled the crisis (example line: 'How can you say... Shock And Awe will win the day?') Reminiscent of the more serious tone on much of the band's third album, 'Behind Closed Doors', it is a rare politically-inspired lyric but no less incisive.
'My Darkest Hour' is probably the biggest departure from the typical 'Thunder Sound' on the whole album. This song is a melancholy tune, just acoustic guitar, cello and vocal, once again delivered magnificently by Danny Bowes.
The lads get back to rocking out with 'Andy Warhol Said'; another witty lyric from Luke Morley lamenting the sudden rise of 'celebrities' with no discernable talent. As the song succinctly puts it: 'Everyone gets a shot, if you're any good or not!' 'What a Beautiful Day' is next, an uplifiting pop/rock track sung in the first-person; about a man so cheered up by the sight of an attractive girl, that he forgets the fact that the weather is in fact, awful! Contrasting this is 'It's all About You', a slower piano-led song where the person in the song is contemplating whether to end his relationship, as he has noticed her interest in him diminish markedly. Not a million miles away from 'Numb' from the 'Giving The Game Away' album, though this song is not quite as Beatle-esque.
Rounding the album off, another relationship song; 'Stubborn Kinda Love. A rousing rocker to end the album, this concerns a more love/hate type of relationship.
To conclude: another strong set of songs excellently played and produced, and yet again a stellar vocal performance from Danny Bowes. Although there are a few welcome variations this time around, it is nothing drastic and Thunder's fans will be very happy with this album.