Giving the Game Away

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Thunder's fifth album, Giving the Game Away, was an unexpectedly mellow affair, trading in most of the hard rock bombast that characterized the British band's prior releases for slower tempos, unusual restraint, and lots of acoustic guitars. At their most "aggressive" (though "urgent" is a more ideal descriptive), the band delivers what amounts to radio-friendly, middle of the road rock, which isn't to say there's not much to like about examples such as "Time to Get Enough," the mildly muscular "Rolling the Dice," and opener "Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)" (even if it basically updates Bryan Adam's "Run to You"). But the bulk of Giving the Game Away is committed to laid-back guitar strummin' punctured by Luke Morley's incisive lead-stabs (see "All I Ever Wanted," "Til it Shines," etc.), and interspersed with sparsely arranged, heart-aching ballads ("You'll Still Need a Friend," "Numb," etc.). The only novelties include a stroll through "Strawberry Fields" on the psych-tinged title track, and an eyebrow-raising, shockingly faithful cover of Wild Cherry's disco-funk classic, "Play that Funky Music White Boy," which can only be viewed as a good laugh (or a good cry, depending on the listener). Even amid this wholesale change of musical tact, however, one can still hear Thunder's natural songwriting instincts and versatile musicianship shining through. But sadly, not too many listeners bothered to do so, and after witnessing by far the worst sales results of their career, Thunder quietly split the following year for what would end up being a two-year hiatus.