Thunderstick - Echoes from the analogue asylum 3/5

Reviewed: 12-1-12





Tracklist:

1. Heartbeat (In the night)
2. Rich girls (Don’t cry)
3. In the name of the father/Echoes from the asylum
4. Long way to go
5. Contact angel
6. Afraid of the dark
7. Another turnaround
8. Feel like rock ‘n’ roll?
9. Alecia
10. Runaround
11. Buried alive
12. Heartbeat (In the night) (instrumental version)
13. Afraid of the dark (instrumental version)
14. You get me in pieces (Love letter to Jack)
15. Feel like rock 'n' roll? (alternative mix)
16. Long way to go (reprise)


I’ve got a soft spot for ‘complete collection’ anthologies of this sort. It was standard model for a number of NWOBHM and U.S. power metal bands to release one or 2 demos or EPs and a single full-length before disappearing off the face of the earth, so rather than spending a fortune on vinyl or settling for 17th generation MP3s, what could be handier than having the whole lot on a single CD?

Heaven and Hell Records have released a handful of these now, but after the likes of mythical USPM acts like Ritual and Blacksmith, they’ve thrown a bit of a curveball with obscure Londoners Thunderstick getting the full treatment.

Mention the name Thunderstick, and most of the people who don’t give you a shrug of the shoulders will say “that guy in the gimp mask who was in Iron Maiden for 5 minutes”. Fewer will remember him as the drummer who played inside a steel cage for a while in Samson, and fewer still his eponymous female fronted NWOBHM act.

This handy ‘Echoes from the analogue asylum’ bundles both their ‘Feel like rock ‘n’ roll’ EP and the ‘Beauty and the beasts’ full-length (the title showing that the female singer was very much a selling point rather than a matter of course) along with a handful of unreleased material to offer a complete picture of the band, showing one of the daffier NWOBHM outfits that have been largely forgotten for straying a little too far off the beaten path.

The thing about Thunderstick is that, despite their certified NWOBHM membership, only a couple of their songs could charitably be described as metal, with the majority showing a more of a commercial pop rock bent with the odd bit of sound-effect laden experimentation along the way.

A couple of songs like “Heartbeat (In the night)” have that trademark NWOBHM gallop, and there are a few that approach ‘British steel’-type commercial metal, but for the most part it’s very lightweight rock stuff, all pumping bass lines and snappy drums with a large focus on the vocals of Jodee Valentine and Anna Borg. The singers (one for each official release) were obviously picked up with a certain sound in mind, as each has a similarly spiky Joan Jett-style yelp that give the songs a certain poppy zest and it’s not even immediately obvious when the transition from one to the other occurs.

So while the modern metal fan (just as I would imagine their counterparts in the early 80s) probably wouldn’t find a great deal to please them, the good thing about having both official releases lined up together is that it’s a bit easier to gloss over the more forgettable and overtly commercial material when all Thunderstick’s better stuff is grouped so closely together.

The bonus material is largely comprised of alternate takes and instrumental versions of a couple of the slightly heavier songs (highlighting how the band could have easily taken a different direction with another style of vocalist), but does also provide the rather nifty dark pop song “You get me in pieces” which is far stronger than some of the main body of the CD.

You could hardly call this compilation a buried treasure due to the band’s schizophrenic nature, but for genre completists and those who like a little historical curiosity piece from time to time, it’s doubtlessly a well put-together package, and it’s nice to be assured that one of the more unusual NWOBHM bands won’t simply be consigned to a footnote in the history books.



CREAG




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