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Thunderhead - Thunderhead

Thunderhead - Thunderhead

Price: $250.00 currently not available     
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Genre: rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Thunderhead
Company: Dellwood
Catalog: GNS 36073
Year: 1977
Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6094
Price: $250.00

When you look into Thunderhead's history, it's easy to understand why a tax scam label like Guinness found them to be an attractive candidate for a release. Their earlier album on ABC was commercially stillborn; ABC management seemingly had no interest in the band, and by the time Guinness Records released 1977's cleverly-titled "Thunderhead" the band had been inactive for a couple of years.

The funny thing about 1977's "Thunderbird" is that in many ways it kicked the crap out of their major label debut. Of the nine tracks featured on the Guinness release, only three tracks ('Busted In Georgia', 'Lay It On the Line', and 'Hit and Run Driver') were found on the earlier ABC release. The other six tracks apparently reflected material drawn from the demos the band had previously recorded with Johnny Winter (and ABC had elected to shelve). While the ABC tracks were good, earlier demos like 'Make Your Own Good News', 'Apathy' and 'Stop the Madness' were even better. That said, the album would have gotten an even higher rating from me were it not for the inclusion of one truly offensive song - 'Space Saver' with a lyric about a psychopath who feels he has the right to chose who gets to live and who dies, Curiously, the abbreviated liner notes credited all of the material to singer Mike Daggar (aka Mike Dagger), even though most of the songs were apparently collaborative efforts.

- One of the three carryovers from the ABC album and one of the standout performances, complete with police sirens, 'Busted In Georgia' offered up a rollicking, dangers-of-the-road tale of mayhem. rating: **** stars
- 'Roll Up the Hill' offered up a mindless slice of bar band boogie. To be honest the best part of this one was Pat Rush's sterling slide guitar work. rating: ** stars
- A mid-tempo rocker, 'Lay It On the Line' featured Dagger and Dobbs sharing lead vocals. Featuring one of the album's strongest melodies and some of the album's prettiest lead guitar, this one would have made a great choice for a single. Marshall Tucker would have appreciated Dagger's flute solo ... rating: **** stars
- Admittedly these guys weren't about to win a Pulitzer for their lyrics, but compared to your standard Southern rock outfit, I have to admit they turned in some interesting lyrics and combined with a great melody, Bobby Torello's frenetic drums, some killer guitar, and great harmony vocals, this was one of their best performances. rating: **** stars
- So how many mid-1970s bands even knew what apathy was, let alone would have used it as the title to a song ? A killer Allman Brothers-styled instrumental, 'Apathy' aptly showcased the band's twin lead guitar line-up with
Ronnie Dobbs and Pat Rush turning in what was easily one of the album's best performances. rating: **** stars
- 'Stop the Madness' was a nice rocker with tasteful progressive touches and a slice of social commentary that was surprisingly subtle and effective. One of my favorite performances and some forty years after it was written, still on target. rating: ***** stars
- Another track lifted from the ABC album, 'Hit and Run Driver' had a somewhat raw and under-produced sound - it almost sounded like it had been recorded live in the studio. Be sure to check out Torello's killer drumming ! rating: *** stars
- I'm not a particularly politically or socially activist person by nature, but I've got to admit that 'Space Saver' sported some of the most disturbing lyrics I've ever heard ... Daggar (aka Dagger) and company managed to make Scandinavian death metal sound positively uplifting next to these visions of how life and death should be determined ("I will not rest until I finally cast all the worthless people from this world for good ...). Definitely ideas you would not have wanted to promulgate among a crowd of young men who were suceptable to poor lifestyle choices. Also, as much as I like Torello's drumming, the extended drum solo was unnecessary. rating: no stars
- 'Home' was another strange track seemingly describing a rock concert that degenerates into a Kent State-styled confrontation. The song was also strange for the bizarre 'old man' vocal Dagger utlized on the track. rating: *** stars

As I mentioned earlier, song for song this is actually better than the ABC release, but what in the world were they thinking when the wrote and recorded 'Space Saver'?

"Thunderhead" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Busted In Georgia (Mike Daggar) -
2.) Roll Up the Hill (Mike Daggar) - 
3.) Lay It On the Line (Mike Daggar) -
4.) Make Your Own Good News (Mike Daggar) - 
5.) Apathy (instrumental) (Mike Daggar) - 

(side 2)
1.) Stop the Madness (Mike Daggar) - 
2.) Hit and Run Driver (Mike Daggar ) -
3.) Space Saver (Mike Daggar) - 
4.) Home (Mike Daggar) - 

The band apparently knew nothing about the Guinness release (it isn't even mentioned on their website).
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