The lost member? The forgotten member? The expendable member?
Whatever you call Andy Taylor you can kind of see why he separated with Duran Duran not once, but twice. Clearly, a hard rocker at heart, I’m guessing based on his 1987 solo album Thunder, he got bored to tears with the prolific use of keyboards and synthesizers along with the occasional guitar for Duran Duran’s music, so he went his own way.
Andy Taylor wants to rock out and play the guitar! That’s exactly what the former Duran Duran guitarist accomplishes on Thunder, the first of two solo albums. Thunder peaked at 46 in the United States and an even worse 61 in his home country. Taylor provides vocals for all the songs on Thunder and don’t tell Simon Le Bon, but he’s got a great voice. Taylor also brought former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones onboard to help out on Thunder as the former punk rocker contributed additional guitars and co-writing duties.
I don’t know how long Thunder has sat on my record shelf but I never listened to it. I picked up Thunder at a record store in Portland (probably in the last five years) only because of my wife’s love for Duran Duran. Basically, if a record had the slightest connection to Duran Duran I bought it, even if it was Andy Taylor, as I’ve come to learn, was the least favorite of the Fab 5 among the so-called Duranies. Girls like the glam, guys like the music evidently because after listening to Thunder just once, I’m trying to understand how he ever got lost.
Andy Taylor? Yep, let’s break Thunder down track by track:
Andy Taylor – Thunder Album Review
1. I Might Lie – An 80s hard rock song and a total delight. Starts out like Motley Crue but settles back into a fun pop groove with great guitars.
2. Don’t Let Me Die Young – How come I never heard this song before? Two for two.
3. Life Goes On – A straight up ballad and something Bryan Adams would love to have in his arsenal.
4. Thunder – We are now 4/4. A little bit of Jones’ influence at the onset but overall the title track fits right in with classic 80s rock thanks to solid guitar playing without the edge of Ratt or even that decade’s version of Bon Jovi. OK, now I’m starting to understand why it was so hard for Taylor to make in-roads as a solo guitarist. He’s got a lot of competition.
5. Night Train – A steady beat, catchy chorus and easy-going guitar.
6. Tremblin’ – Wouldn’t you know, Mickey Curry, long time drummer for Bryan Adams, gets the spotlight a bit on drums. Another solid song that should have hit the airwaves.
7. Bringin’ Me Down – How come I never heard this song before? Batting 1.000.
8. Broken Window – The only song on the album Taylor can call his own doesn’t stray at all from the rest of the pack. The simple drum machine beat probably doesn’t do “Broken Window” any favors for the discriminating musician but Taylor uses it to his advantage.
9. French Guitar – A heavier, more methodical song, “French Guitar” probably comes as close to a Duran Duran song as you’ll get but it would probably be outside their wheelhouse. Here’s the thing, if Duran Duran released this, radio would ignore it and the fans would adore it. One problem though. It’s an instrumental. And, it’s really good.
In summary, none of the songs on Thunder sound remotely close to Duran Duran except of course, as noted, “French Guitar.”
Thunder bleeds the 80s rock format that kept the guitar front and center minus the heavy grit from the more popular hard rock bands of the decade. A lot of these songs could easily usher in movie credits or fill in the time/space gap as the lead protagonist figures out his crush.
Does Thunder by Andy Taylor translate nearly 35 years later?
Here’s the thing – even if you never spun Thunder you probably already heard it and perhaps that’s why it didn’t make much in-roads in 1987 as the music world was ready for the likes of Guns ‘N Roses and away from the sounds of The Outfield. But if some young hipsters recorded an album like Thunder today I have little trouble believing it would chart higher and grab more attention than the original 1987 release.
I don’t work in the industry and I’ve only heard stories, but it seems Thunder offers all the proof you need as to why so many artists find it hard to make it big. Duran Duran had more or less fizzled out from their heyday but in respects to an Andy Taylor album, none of these songs sound remotely familiar as I am sure Thunder received very little, if any airplay. You can’t play the solo rock album from the former guitarist of Duran Duran on KROQ and the music doesn’t really fit on KLOS and besides, who listening to Southern Calfornia’s (now) classic rock station back then even knew who Andy Taylor was?
Now you know why the rumbling of Thunder was somewhere off in the distance.
Andy Taylor Thunder Track List:
- I Might Lie
- Don’t Let Me Die Young
- Life Goes On
- Night Train
- Bringin’ Me Down
- Broken Window
- French Guitar