Thunder - 'Wonder Days'

   (2CD Limited Deluxe Edition)

 


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THE BAND:
Danny Bowes - lead vocals
Luke Morley - guitar, vocals
Gary 'Harry' James - drums, percussion
Ben Matthews - guitar, keyboards
Chris Childs - bass guitar

 



TRACKLISTING:
DISC I: 'Wonder Days'
1.) "Wonder Days" - This intro opens with that classic Thunder guitar sound that Thunder fans have been so familiar with over the years.  Gary's snare drum pattern underneath the rhythm guitar consisted of two single, two double, and two tripple snare cracks.  Separating these snare cracks was an opening and closing hi-hat pattern.  There was a musical rest connecting the musical intro with the musical verse.  Over the top of this musical rest there was a lead vocal line.  After the opening lyric line the band kicks-in a second rhythm guitar arrangement.  The rhythm guitar arrangements were placed in between the lyric lines.  The way they wrote the rhythm guitar arrangement had the last note of the arrangement carry underneath the lyrics.  After the first measure of the verse there was a rhythm guitar change.  This rhythm guitar change consisted of a mean sounding riff.  After the second measure of the verse the band switched back to the main rhythm guitar arrangement that opened the verse.  The chorus had a huge Thunder hook attached to it.  After the chorus the way the song was produced consisted of one rhythm coming out of one speaker and the second rhythm coming out of the other speaker.  Even before I learned to play drums or went to engineering school I have always been fascinated with some of the techniques musicians or sound engineers come up with.  This speaker split is a great example of some of the things that blows my mind and makes me a music fan!  The lead guitar solo was amazing!!  After the lead guitar solo there was a drastic musical change.  This musical change consisted of a minor lead guitar solo over the top of a piano arrangement.  This musical section was very reminiscent to a musical arrangement Edward Van Halen has written (off the top of my head I can't think of which Van Halen song).  After this Van Halen arrangement there was an arrangement change that was heavily influenced by The Beatles.  After the small Beatles arrangement the song breaks back into the musical chorus.
2.) "The Thing I Want" - This intro opens with a rhythm guitar arrangement. Underneath the rhythm guitar arrangement Harry is keeping time with his hi-hat.  After the first measure Gary begins playing a snare drum/tom-tom pattern.  There was a vocal accent over the top of this measure.  With the addition of this vocal accent the intro take on an early Rolling Stones sound.  Over the top of the drum line Gary overdubbed a small rattlesnake percussion instrument.  For the musical verse there was a very simple Thunder rhythm guitar arrangement.  There was a vocal acccent over the top of the rhythm guitar of the opening verse.  There was a rhythm guitar change underneath the lyric lines of the musical verse.  The sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth lyric lines of the verse consisted of a backing harmony.  After the last lyric line of the musical verse there was an arrangement change.  The choruses had a classic Thunder hook attached to them.  After the second chorus there was a breakdown section.  There was a small musical rest that connect the breakdown with the lead guitar solo.  Underneath the chorus of the coda there was a minor lead guitar solo. section.        
3.) "The Rain" - This song opens with an acoustic guitar arrangement.  The band used the same acoustic guitar arrangement for the musical verse has the one for the intro section.  After the first measure of the verse over the top of the acoustic guitar arrangement a mandolin arrangement begins.  The acoustic guitar and mandolin are playing the same rhythm arrangement.  There was a rhythm arrangement change for the musical chorus.  Connecting the first chorus with the second verse there was a mandolin arrangement change.  This mandolin arrangement reminded me a lot of the mandolin arrangements Bruce Hornsby has written.  After the second chorus the drum and bass line kick-in.  It is also at this point that a keyboard arrangement begins.  There was a small minor mandolin solo after the second chorus leading into the third verse.  Over the top of the coda there was a very simple electric guitar arrangement.  This was a very simple well-structured ballad.

4.) "Black Water" - There was a minor lead guitar solo over the top of the intro section.  After the minor lead guitar solo there was a rhythm guitar arrangement change.  At this point, both the rhythm guitar and lead guitar begin playing the same rhythm for the musical verse.  Of all the drummers in the field of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal I have always thought that there was only two that had the most crisp sound.  Those two drummers are Audie Desbrow (Great White) and Gary 'Harry' James (Thunder).  This drum line shows why I think this.  The sound he gets from his hi-hat and cymbals have one of the most amazing sounds I think I have ever heard.  Underneath the rhythm guitar arrangement of the musical verse Ben plays a keyboard arrangement.  It sounded like Ben's keyboard arrangement was the same arrangement as the two rhythm guitars.  There was a rhythm arrangement change connecting the musical verse with the musical chorus.  Danny double-tracked the first lyric line of the chorus.  There was a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse.  There was a backing harmony underneath the last two lyric lines of the second verse.  After the second chorus there was a couple lead vocal accents over the top of a rhythm guitar change that led to a second minor lead guitar solo.  After the second minor solo there was a one measure musical arrangement change.
5.) "The Prophet" - This intro opens with a musical arrangement that was very reminiscent to a song that was released in the seventies.  However, at the time of writing this review I cannot think of what that song is.  There was a lead guitar pick slide over the top of the last riff of the intro section.  The band used the same rhythm guitar arrangement for the musical verse as the one for the intro.  There was an arrangement change for the musical chorus.  The musical chorus consisted of two separate rhythm guitar arrangements.  After the first chorus there was a lead guitar solo section.  The lead guitar solo was either overdubbed to give a twin lead guitar effect or it was a twin lead guitar solo.  The musical arrangement before the coda consisted of two different rhythm guitar arrangements.
6.) "Resurrection Day" - This intro consisted of a clean electric guitar rhythm.  As the intro progressed there was several cymbal crashes along with a different rhythm guitar arrangement.  Over the top of the intro arrangement of Danny sings a vocal accent.  There was a rhythm guitar change for the musical verse.  Underneath the main rhythm guitar arrangement of the verse there was an acoustic guitar arrangement.  There was an arrangement change for the chorus.  The lyrical and musical chorus had a huge Thunder hook attached to it.  The acoustic guitar arrangement underneath the electric guitar filled-in the musical arrangement and gave it a very full sound.  There was a tom-tom fill after the second chorus that led to a one-measure arrangement change.  After the third chorus there was an arrangement change for one measure.  This arrangement change led to the final chorus.
7.) "Chasing Shadows" - This track consisted with a fairly simple Thunder style intro arrangement.  After the first measure a second rhythm guitar kicks-in.  This second rhythm guitar was the same rhythm guitar arrangement as the one that opened the musical intro.  There was a rhythm arrangement change for the musical verse.  The musical verse consisted of two separate rhythm guitar arrangements.  The musical chorus consisted of the same musical arrangement as the musical intro.  After the chorus there was an arrangement change.  This arrangement change led to a breakdown section.  After the breakdown section there was a lead guitar solo.  This lead guitar solo lead to a second breakdown section.  This second breakdown section was over the top of the coda and had an amazing sound!
8.) "Broken" - On every studio CD Thunder has release there is at least one amazing ballad.  This song is that amazing ballad for 'Wonder Days'!
9.) "When The Music Played" - There was a minor lead guitar solo over the top of this intro arrangement.  After the solo Gary begins playing a cowbell rhythm.  Over the top of the cowbell rhythm there was a rhythm guitar change.  There was a couple lead guitar licks over the top of the rhythm guitar arrangement of the opening musical verse there was a few lead guitar licks.  Underneath the lyric lines Gary added a hi-hat to his cowbell pattern.  Underneath the vocals of the second lyric line there was a very subtle lead guitar vibrato lick.  Underneath the opening lyric lines of the second verse the band kicks-in the song.  For this section there are two different rhythm guitar arrangements one a top of the other.  There was an arrangement change for the musical chorus.  There was a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse.  There was a second minor lead guitar solo underneath the lyric lines of the second verse.  After the second chorus there was a major lead guitar solo section.  After the solo there was a drastic musical change.  This musical change was so drastic that it sounded like a completely different song.  After the first verse of this musical section there was a second major lead guitar solo.  After the solo the band completely changed the arrangement again.  This song really shows just how great songwriters Danny and Luke are.  There was a minor lead guitar solo over the top of the coda.
10.) "Serpentine" - There was not a musical intro for this track.  The musical verse consisted of a Delta Blues style acoustic guitar arrangement. Underneath the acoustic guitar rhythm Gary is playing a hi-hat pattern.  In between the third and fourth lyric lines there is a couple lead guitar licks.  These licks were done with a slide guitar effect.  There not only is the same effect between the seventh and eighth lyric lines however also a couple backing vocals.  The band used the same acoustic guitar rhythm for the musical chorus.  Over the top of the acoustic guitar for the chorus there was an electric blues riff.  After the first chorus the band kicks the song-in.  The second choruses consisted of two separate rhythm guitar arrangements.  After the second chorus there was a lead guitar solo.  This lead guitar solo section was a twin lead guitar solo.  For the third verse Danny's vocals had a vocal effect attached to them.  This song was amazing as hell!!!!!      
11.) "I Love The Weekend" - This was a classic fifties early sixties influenced Rock 'n' Roll song!
DISC II: Live At The Waken Festival 2011:
1.) "Dirty Love"
2.) "River Of Pain"
3.) "Higher Ground"
4.) "Low Life In High Places"
5.) "Backstreet Symphony"
6.) "The Devil Made Me Do It"
7.) "You Can't Keep A Good Man Down"
8.) "Love Walked In"
9.) "I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll"




     Retiring from the music business must be equally as difficult as it is for athletes to retire.  Especially since officially Thunder retired in 1999 after the release of 'Giving The Game Away' and since retiring the guys are stronger now than they have ever been releasing five CD's since calling it quits.
     'Wonder Days' is the tenth studio album released from the band since forming in 1989.  The deluxe edition of 'Wonder Days' contains two discs.  Disc I contains the eleven-track studio release titled 'Wonder Days' and disc II features nine songs the band performed in 2011 at The Waken Festival.
     The eleven songs on 'Wonder Days' contains the same big classic rock sound that fans of the band have come to enjoy!  'Wonder Days' is everything you ever loved about Thunder and more. Despite the absence of guitarist Ben Matthews (who is thankfully now recovering after treatment for tonsil cancer), this is the sound of a band confident in their abilities; they are firing on all cylinders and writing some of the best songs of their career!
      If the songs on 'Wonder Days' is any indication of Thunder's future then you can just about guarantee that they are going to be around for many years to come!  Thunder has never released a bad album in the past and I do not expect that to change anytime soon!!!!
     As for Disc II Thunder has an amazing live sound.  Coming from someone who does not like live CDs Thunder sounds just as good live as they do in the studio.  I do not know for the life of me why the name Thunder is not a household name.  I can just about guarantee 'Wonder Days' will be on the Blast Magazine top releases of the years.  This is one release every hard rock fan should own!!!