Mickey Thomas

Marauder

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During the 15-year period of his commercial ascendency, 1976-1991, from the breakthrough hit "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" with the Elvin Bishop Group to the last chart entries of Starship, Mickey Thomas was a band singer whose soaring tenor powered through rock and blues arrangements. In the ensuing 20 years, he fronted groups using the Starship moniker on the oldies circuit and engaged in occasional recording projects, notably 2010's blues outing, The Bluesmasters Featuring Mickey Thomas. The solo album Marauder is another such effort, this time presenting a Mickey Thomas covers collection. It's a reasonable idea, given that he's always been more of a singer than anything else, and it allows him to pay tribute to his influences and acknowledge some peers. There are so many selections from the Fab Four that it wouldn't be surprising to discover that the original idea was to make a "Mickey Thomas Sings the Beatles" album. He is particularly reverent when it comes to Paul McCartney, with songs like "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Oh! Darling" revealing his debt, but the inclusion of John Lennon's "Rain" (with a bit of "Tomorrow Never Knows") and "Across the Universe" (with a bit of "Hello Goodbye"), plus George Harrison's "Wah Wah" round out the significance of the Beatles, group and solo, in Thomas' development. Beyond the Beatles, however, he mostly sticks to the British Empire, whether looking back to the Rolling Stones (a country-blues treatment of "Gimme Shelter" that leads things off) or registering his affection for contemporaries like Peter Gabriel (a faithful version of "Sledgehammer") or Oasis ("Champagne Supernova"). Although his taste is impeccable, he may not be well advised to take on the music of grittier singers like Joe Cocker ("Delta Lady") or Bob Seger ("Hollywood Nights"), since, even as he's aged, Thomas hasn't acquired much gravel in his pure tones and seems lightweight in comparison. On the other hand, he approaches AC/DC's "Moneytalks" with a seeming intention to playfully impersonate Brian Johnson, and he mostly succeeds. As he makes his living on the road, Thomas may now be justified in tossing some of these songs into his set. Yes, it was Paul Carrack who made a hit out of "Tempted" for Squeeze, but Mickey Thomas does a creditable job with it, and a hit is still a hit.

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