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Fabulous Flip Sides of Thunder with Luke Morley

Thunder’s guitarist Luke Morley discusses the British quintet’s new BMG album “All the Right Noises” and celebrates the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Top 100 singles chart success of “Dirty Love”
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GOLDMINE: Congratulations on All the Right Noises. It certainly has all the right power and variety, but before we get to that, let’s start with the song we first heard from you on the radio in America, “Dirty Love,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. That A side was catchy and powerful and the flip side, “Girl’s Going Out of Her Head,” has such a fluid guitar solo from you, with a song style reminding me of Sammy Hagar.

LUKE MORLEY: That was back when dinosaurs ran the earth, ha ha. “Dirty Love” was really the first proper Thunder anthem and was a hit in the U.S., so I am very fond of it for that reason alone. It was one of the first songs that I wrote when Thunder started. It’s the song that we can’t not play in our live shows. There would be a massive Thunder riot if we didn’t play it, even in the UK. It is one of those songs that we never rehearse because we play it so many times and always close the set with it. We never know where it will go as it moves in various tangents, and that keeps it fresh and exciting for us, and “Girl’s Going Out of Her Head” is kind of a strange song about a personal relationship of mine.

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Flip side: Girl’s Going Out of Her Head

A side: Dirty Love

Top 100 debut: June 1, 1991

Peak Position: No. 55

Geffen 19026

GM: Another of my favorites from that time is “Love Walked In,” with a soft beginning and a big chorus.

LM: I wrote the song just prior to recording our first album, Backstreet Symphony. The album was produced by Andy Taylor, the guitarist from Duran Duran and Power Station. I played it for him and said that I was unsure about it and he said, “If you don’t put that on the album, you are insane.” I trusted him and I am so glad that I did because that is another one that we just can’t leave out of our live set, and when we hear tales of people walking down the aisle to that song, that is pretty amazing. Even Axl Rose told me that it was a favorite love song of his.

GM: I learned recently that your early 1990s arena tour to support those songs was canceled because the music industry changed to grunge. I witnessed first-hand when disco happened, how big of a change that was in the late 1970s, but I didn’t realize this happened with grunge. The only music change I was aware of was the vinyl to CD format, which I felt forced into.

LM: It was an interesting time. We were in a very unusual position because once the album came out on Geffen, “Dirty Love” did really well. The video was all over MTV, and I think we sold something like a quarter million copies of the album. Everything was looking great. We were booked on a tour with David Lee Roth and Cinderella for three months all over The United States. We were very excited about that massive opportunity, then our American manager called and said, “Unpack boys. The tickets aren’t selling well. It has all gone grunge crazy over here and he explained to us that a lot of the rock radio stations had changed their formats. More traditional rock wasn’t being played so much and listeners wanted Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, and Geffen wouldn’t finance us doing a separate tour on our own. We probably should have come anyway to the pockets of support we had in the Midwest and elsewhere. We stayed in Europe and went to Japan as well.

Thunder vinyl

GM: Post-pandemic you’ll be back on the road and when you do you will be playing songs from All the Right Noises, which our readers will be pleased to know is available on a variety of formats, including a double vinyl album package, opening with the “Whole Lotta Love” guitarwork on “Last One Out Turn Off the Lights.”

LM: It is interesting because I didn’t actually notice the similarity to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” as I thought it was more like The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Fire” because the drum part is quite similar, but when I was in my home studio, that is when my wife pointed out the Led Zeppelin comparison, and I told her, “It’s too late now.” Another person said he was reminded of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” in the introduction. I guess if you stand back and listen to it, it must have every influence I have ever had, so if people compare it to Led Zeppelin, that is a massive honor, provided that people don’t think it is a nick, but is one of those influences lurking in my subconscious.

GM: In the early 1970s, on our Cleveland FM rock station, WMMS, had a Sunday evening show called Import Hour and it included Lucifer’s Friend from Germany, who used a combination of electric guitars and brass which is what I am reminded of with that song and “Going to Sin City.” Their lead singer, John Lawton, went on to Uriah Heep later in the 1970s.

LM: I remember him. That electric guitar and brass combination is something that I am surprised more bands don’t use. I know The Who and Aerosmith have done it here and there. There is something about the richness of a brass section that sits beautifully on top of rock and roll guitars. It can be very powerful and is kind of emotive. “Going to Sin City” was about lead singer Danny Bowes and I going to America in 1988. We had never been before, and it was an education. I think the song also has a touch of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” to it. I am a big fan of horns in rock and roll and I think there should be more of it.

GM: We talked about “Love Walked In” as one of your softer songs from the past. On the new album, “I’ll Be the One” captures that essence with the piano in the beginning of this ballad. Your guitar solo is outstanding.

LM: Thank you so much. I wrote it on guitar and put it aside as it didn’t feel right and then one day I sat at the piano and thought, there it is. Then it took on that Lennon-McCartney theme. The Beatles were on at the house massively when I was a kid, so that is another unavoidable influence.

GM: You talked about going back in time, whether it was your first trip to America or when the first album came out, but with “Young Man,” you don’t want to go back, because things have changed.

LM: Yes. The world now is very different, and I feel for young people. When I was young, you could go out and do stupid things without the glare of camera phones and the internet, with Facebook, Instagram, and God knows what else capturing everything that you do. I feel there is a lot of pressure on young people now and I am glad that I grew up as a teenager in the 1970s. It was fantastic with great music and much more freedom than I think that young people have now. Musically in that song, I hear a bit of the first band that I ever saw live, T. Rex, when I was eleven years old, and it had such a profound effect on me. There are also some girls on background vocals, along with me and our part-time keyboardist Sam Tanner singing to give it a slightly different texture. The studio we worked at is called Rockfield in the heart of the Welsh countryside, on a farm, which is an old residential studio. We brought in people from down the road in Cardiff to add strings. Those four ladies looked a bit school marm-ish and were very proper. I went through the score with them and they were absolutely brilliant. They were a great discovery and I recommend them to everybody who records there.

GM: I hear them also on “St. George’s Day,” which is a bluesy bit of storytelling about immigration.

LM: St. George’s Day has been kind of misappropriated here in England. England’s flag of a red cross on a white background, which is different from the Union Jack for the UK, has been used by extreme right wing thugs and has become almost a negative symbol, which is very sad because I think the country’s flag is one that people should be proud of. The holiday is something that you should be able to celebrate each April, without the fear of it meaning something else. The song is about being an Englishman in the 21st century. We are an island nation and there is a bit of the theory to pull up the drawbridge and keep us separate, but I don’t buy that in this global culture. Britain is built on immigration, for God’s sake. Our doctors and health workers have been doing a wonderful job throughout the world in the last year and I don’t think people should say that immigration is bad, which is what Brexit was all about. This song is my way of saying that we are global, and we can’t think like we used to a hundred years ago. We aren’t an empire anymore. We are just a little island. If people want to come here and work and bring their expertise and skill, then we should welcome them.

GM: Speaking about working with others, you worked with Ricky Warwick on “You Don’t Love Me,” one of my favorite songs from his new album When Life Was Hard and Fast.

LM: I did some shows with Ricky, with his band Black Star Riders in 2018 in South America, when they were between guitar players. Ricky and I go back about thirty years. I also know Scott Gorham from that band and Thin Lizzy, because we play golf together. We played in Chile, Brazil and Argentina and it was very nice because it wasn’t exactly a packed schedule. We did six shows across fourteen days so there was a lot of time for hanging out and catching up. To spend concentrated time with people that you like and play some music in the sun in South America was a really nice time. We talked about me playing on his upcoming album at the time and we accomplished that long distance during the pandemic. I have a studio in my house and sent him my part. Thank you for bringing up this song and all the Goldmine coverage on our new Thunder album. It has been good fun chatting with you.

Back Row: Chris Childs, Harry James, Benny Matthews, Bottom Row: Danny Bowes, Luke Morley

Back Row: Chris Childs, Harry James, Benny Matthews, Bottom Row: Danny Bowes, Luke Morley

Related links:

Goldmine 2021 new album interview with Ricky Warwick