Album review: THUNDERSTICK – Something Wicked This Way Came, Live In France

THUNDERSTICK – Something Wicked This Way Came, Live In France

Indie [Release date 20.03.20]

Thunderstick the man is a drummer who, having already played with Iron Maiden in their early daze, made his name replacing Clive Burr in Samson. As the masked and caged mad man, and a bloody good drummer to boot, he recorded the albums Survivors, Head On and Shock Tactics before forming his own band, also called Thunderstick. A 12” EP and an album followed, the latter featuring vocalist Jodee Valentine, have both been issued on CD bolstered by other rarities and are well worth searching out.

The band reformed a few years ago, and released the excellent Something Wicked This Way Comes, featuring vocalist Lucie V and that was a wonderful listen; solid driving rhythms, powerful metal with NWoBHM influences and great vocals. The line-up changed again and alongside Thunderstand and longtime bassist Rex Thunderbolt, the band featured guitarists Lee Quenby and Mike Gibbons, and up front vocalist Raven Blackwing. And just how overdue is this live set? At least 35 years…

The album is brash, bold, and at times quite mad, and at others it’s about classic metal and rock’n’roll. The siren intro builds into Samson’s Riding With The Angels (well, the Russ Ballard song Samson had a hit with), and other classic Samson material like Earth Mother and Vice Versa get an airing, along side tracks from the more recent Thunderstick album. Raven talks to the crowd and introduces songs, each one getting a roar. The Samson tracks are quite heavy here, now featuring 2 guitars. And what takes me back is the early Thunderstick material, Buried Alive Is a great song.

A great experience, my criticism is that it’s not longer. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

Joe speaks to Thunderstick for an update on what’s planned next and more about the live album…

Hi Thunders how are you?

Good thank you. Busy and not busy; I’ve been upgrading the studio and running Logic Pro, so lots of things to get to grips with. We’re into the new album, but that’s ground to a halt, as bassist Rex is diabetic so no-one can be near him.

The new live album’s had a great reception hasn’t it?

Yes, we’re quite chuffed. It’s been a long distance job mixing it, and made some great friends. It was recorded at a festival in France and dealing with the mixer in a different studio, it was the entire set we had. It’s no Kiss Alive but that’s how the performance was, tidied a couple of bits but there’s no overdubs or anything like that. I’m very proud of it.

Finishing with The Time Warp was a nice touch.

Yeah, when put this line-up was a real live band and that song was like a party piece. And we’ve worked bloody hard too.

How did you find current vocalist Raven? She’s fitted in really well.

She really does have a great voice. She hadn’t done much hard rock before so I had to cajole her to perform so well. She was in a covers band but I tempted her to do rock and she’s very professional.

Viixen didn’t hand around for long did she?

Jesus there were some issues there. She and guitarist Baz came as a unit, looking for a band. I thought OK, we’ll give it a go, it was positive, we rehearsed, but they were using the name Thunderstick for promotion for their own cover band.

Lucy V came and went saying “Job Done” didn’t she?

That is pretty much how it happened. A friend of mine had a studio, he did backing tracks for things like kids TV shows, and he found this singer. We didn’t have money to do the album but he told her there was money for festivals etc. I was on a waiting list for a knee op so when I was sorted we did the album but without the live work, it was job done.

Bassist Rex Thinderbolt has been with you for a number of years now.

Rex is a great bloke, solid, we met a British Lions gig, you know, Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris’s solo band. He got introduced to me at the bar. I had at first wanted to use John McCoy for the gig but logistically it was difficult – I think he was working with Sean Tyler in the Tyler Gang at the time, they recorded a live album. But Rex came down and it’s really worked out well.

There’s a good mix of old and new material on the album.

The Samson material only feels right as a good place to start. We’ve dropped Vice Verca from the set – we’ve done what we can with it, but we’ve kept Riding With The Angels and Earth Mother.

I love those two early Samson albums, I think Shock Tactics is underrated.

I prefer Head On, there were no barriers, I was more flamboyant, we were able to have a good time. By the time we did Shock Tactics, we had big problems, management issues, trying to pull tracks apart. It didn’t help with the label going bust at it coming out on the parent label with no promotion. Apparently Tony Platt was aware back then that Iron Maiden were looking to headhunt Bruce, we weren’t, not until later.

I think it’s abhorrent what Bruce said about those albums, in his book, said there 100s of edits, that I couldn’t keep time. When you read that, he thought I couldn’t play drums, yet I’ve made my own albums, done my own production as well as play drums, I’m as much an all round musician as well as a drummer. Why does he bother, he’s always put Samson the band down.

My last studio album Something Wicked This Way Comes was getting 4star and 5star reviews, I’ll take that.

What next for Thunderstick?

New album. I think the rest of this year is a right off – there is a festival in October but we’ll have to see, not heard yet. But it’s all about the album, which we’ve started. We just need to get it done.

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 22 May.

Next session: Sunday 26 June.

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