On 28 February 1990 I came back from an open day at Leeds University with a vague idea I quite wanted to go there in October to study and, much more importantly, the shaped picture disc of Thunder Dirty Love*. Let me just pause for a second and reflect just how damn great a thing of awe, joy and beauty the shaped picture disc is – I honestly believe it to be the invention, that above all others, shows how much we have evolved from the primitive hirsute man-apes we once were as a species** and why our civilisation is supreme compared with under-achievers like the ancient Egyptians – pyramids are all great and stuff, but show me the shaped picture discs Horus! Eh?
I had already seen Thunder opening for Aerosmith the previous Autumn and had been won over, although I had been a bit miffed that Aerosmith hadn’t brought a big-name US band over as support act. Dirty Love was the first single they had released since and here I was clutching it tight to me on my journey home with my girlfriend, who wouldn’t hold that exalted title for much longer^. So it goes.
The title track is a great, rather simplistic blues rock stomp in a classic stylee, which robbed a great guitar intro from T-Rex. ‘Dirty Love’ is one of those funny songs that is instantly so familiar that you’d swear you had heard it before, it’s all rather well put together but still with enough rough bits around the edges to make it more than a cookie cutter track. Thunder were always a very likable, very classy bunch. I was a bit disappointed to find however that rather than a celebration of Dirty Love (Latin: Coitus Rarius In-Matrimonius), it’s a kiss-off to one of them dirty, two-timing mean ho-bags so beloved of male songwriters. When Danny Bowes sang ‘I don’t need your dirty love’, I’m afraid I just couldn’t relate to the sentiment – what was the man saying?! From my own experience surely he should have been singing, ‘I don’t respect myself for craving your dirty love, every hour of every day, with every molecule in my body but I’ll have a slice anyway, if that’s okay with you’ – maybe the lyric just didn’t quite scan that way around.
I’m always a sucker for a band who chuck in a load of ‘Na na na na na na na’ s in a song and I also really rather like the lines,
I see you walking by, you’ve got that faraway look in your eye
It was only yesterday, like a cheap suit you were all over me
B-side was the very B-sidey ‘Fired Up’, you can just tell it was a track that hadn’t made the grade for their debut LP Backstreet Symphony. They used to include it in their live sets and it is a bit of a rockier turn with a good heavy guitar solo, it’s performed and sung very well it just lacks a bit of songwriting sparkle.
And that would be that if I was a normal person of sound mind. I’m not, 6 months later I bought the 12″ clear vinyl ‘Banner Pack’ version of Dirty Love. I had never owned a banner pack before, what was it? well, folks it’s basically a long thin poster with the band’ logo on it plus several shots of the band, an endearingly non-photogenic lot who really shouldn’t have been allowed to pick their own clothes, staring moodily into woodland/mountain passes etc. It remains the only banner pack I own, I suspect there may have been a UN Banner Pack Non-Proliferation Treaty passed in late 1990, to keep all joy and excitement in the world at sustainable levels.
The Dirty Love 12″ contains a 6:07 version of ‘Dirty Love’, which packs in a whole load more T-Rex steals, some improvised ‘oh no’s and ‘Ooh, yeah’s and is genuinely a better, more fun version of the song. The bit I like best is when it fades out at the end and then fades up again after a few seconds with Danny Bowes raving about how he is a true Cockney, born within the sound of Bow Bells in London, before ending with a heartfelt ‘Bollocks!’, effectively ending the song with a flourish akin to the sublime dismount from an Eastern Bloc gymnast, it’s definitely worth a 10 from me. There’s also a live version of ‘She’s So Fine’ which is, umm, so fine but doesn’t raise the pulse rate hugely, despite Thunder always being a cracking band to go and see.
Fire up the video below for some great 1990 rock-style fun. Things were simpler back then and you get a real sense of the fun and charm this lot had, but Danny … that vest!
PS: I picked this one after rapping with Mr Mike Ladano yesterday over just how many gimmicks bands would cram onto releases in order to entice sheep like me into parting with their cash. bet you haven’t got a banner pack!
**and who are often still to be found throughout West Wales, having formed their own rudimentary society.
^she, very understandably, dumped me – possibly preferring to find herself someone a bit more three-dimensional and attentive to go out with, rather than an overgrown child on the cusp of developing full-blown terminal Vinylitis.