Thunder-Giving The Game Away (Book Review)
Released: 2016, Omnibus Press
I really like Thunder. Like Many North Americans, those first two albums really caught my ear and attention as a great band that was really doing something different in an era of grunge. Even thought they were a 90’s band technically they had the spirit of the 70’s and 80’s as a part of their musical DNA. Now, unlike many (most?) North American fans I still followed them well after they stopped releasing albums in North America. I was quite surprised but totally delighted when author Joel McIver announced he was writing and releasing the official biography of the band. There is perhaps no other band quite so deserving. Many fans still don’t realize how prolific and popular these Hard Rockers are in the UK and abroad and this book may take a big step in rectifying that unfortunate situation.
GIVING THE GAME AWAY (named after the bands 5th album) is a gorgeous coffee-table style, illustrated history and biography of Thunder. It is a beautiful book, full colour on glossy paper, almost 200 pages long and absolutely packed with photos. The cover is one of those really nice paper-stocks with silver embossed lettering and a type of water-mark logo. I don’t even really want to touch the cover because it will leave fingerprints! The book even smells good! This book just looks and feels fantastic and I do like real books even for the tactile aspect, moreso than reading a book on a digital tablet.
What is neat about Thunder is that they are friends…there have been virtually no line-up changes, just two people came and went in the bands 25+ year history and they get included as well. All the members contributed extensive quotes and rare photos for the book giving this a real authenticity, hence the ‘official’ endorsement by the band. It starts at the beginning naturally with lots of stories and photos of the old friends growing up in England in the 60’s and 70’s. The narrative, driven largely by quotes from each band member follows the guys as they grew up, formed the band Terraplane and eventually morphed into Thunder and took the world by storm between 1988 and 1992 or so. Each album gets a write up and a song-by-song commentary, a technique I always enjoy. There are tons of photos and pictures of memorabilia, singles, albums covers, live shots and more making this a visual delight. The interviews and quote are extensive, words from the creators themselves. The only, and I do mean only, complaint I have is that the information covering 2003 (when they sort of reformed) to 2008 is a bit thin. They released four full-length studio albums in rapid succession, and they are all covered but not in as much detail as the first decade. I’m not surprised at the continued popularity of this veteran band even if they are off the North American radar for some reason. Our loss! The true fans will still follow the band regardless of geography.
I’d like to say this book is long overdue, that may not be the case, but the timing is almost perfect as the band continues to enjoy a bit of a resurgence, (recently releasing their first album in a number of years) and they really do deserve their own book. GIVING THE GAME AWAY is a superb biography and I can’t think of a more worthy band to get this deluxe treatment.