BOWES & MORLEY – Mo’s Barbecue


Frontiers Records
Release Date: March 8, 2004

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

Some guys just know how to write lyrics. For some bands, lyrics are just something that get in the way, and their inability to do as much as even “make sense” often times ruins any chance they have for being considered anything other than “noisemakers.” And then, there are bands like Thunder, but more specifically, Danny Bowes and Luke Morley, from Thunder. This songwriting duo pens the best lyrics in hard rock today. Check out their song “’Til It Shines” sometime. Poignant, smart, relevant and interesting, that’s the best way to describe the lyrical content of that gem. Or, check out the song “Loser” from their recent release Shooting at the Sun (this reviewer’s number two album of 2003) and you’ll see that they have a sense of humor to boot. Couple this ability with Bowes almost nonpareil vocals and Morley’s blues-tinged guitar excellence, and well, magic is made …

Mo’s Barbecue is the duo’s second release, and if you are looking for Thunder’s hard rock anthems to show, good luck with that. Doesn’t happen. But you will get a slower, more mature piece that will prove that they don’t have to color inside the lines to make great music.

Since lyrics are in the spotlight, the best song lyrically is “Since I Left Her.” The song is about a guy leaving his girl, and basically, is happy as hell about it. Sort of. The song is a mid-paced almost-ballad, more of a bluesy, upbeat dirge, if that’s possible. Poesy is strewn throughout this song almost from the start, especially with the chorus of, “it’s rained every day, since I left her, and I’m feeling fine.” Not what’d you expect from a “love” song. Then, the stronger lines keep coming, like “and if no one calls or comes around, it’s cuz my friends think I’m painting the town.” But the talent pops up with the line, “yes I’m sleeping well, and no I haven’t noticed, the great big empty space.” Obviously, since he defines the space as “great big,” well, he notices it. So the guy in the song is lying to himself, making the song even more melancholy. Finally at the end, you get hit with the admission that he’s missing her like mad, when the line, “And I don’t deny that I called her up, it’s my telephone, not me, that’s cracking up. Cuz it’s rained every day, since I left her … but I’m feeling fine.” This is the kind of song you hear once, and hit repeat 40 times.

The first song, “Desire,” blasts you with a groove, complete with horns, sax, piano and whatever else they can throw in there. It’s the kind of song that should be playing during the upcoming Mardi Gras, for sure. If you haven’t been introduced to Bowes’ voice before, well, you’ll be loving it when he sings, “and everyone knows why they go to hell!” A perfect intro to the CD, but sadly, this is about as rockin’ as it gets at this barbecue.

“Why Did You Do It” has a sort of classic ’70s groove to it, flat out bluesy riffs, and Bowes singing lower than he usually does, which shows how diverse his talent really is. Overall, it’s funky as all get out, if that description works for you.

Another funky song is “Waiting for the Sky to Fall,” a more straight-ahead song, almost in the tone Thunder usually plays. The guitar here is the highlight, and a pleasure to listen to. You’ll also get piano and some cool “whoa oh oh oh” backing vocals.

Their second ballad on this disk is “Illogical,” a song less deep than “Since I Left Her,” but still has some great lines. “I’m a heartbreak survivor, so I give nothing away, so if you ask how I’m feeling, I probably won’t say …” This is more of an honest song, but they do this sort of thing well.

Probably the best line on the whole CD comes in the tune “That’s Not Love.” Again, lyrically, you’ll pay attention, with lines like “I know you could be lying, laughing, on the other side of your face.” But nothing really compares with the hesitant candor in the line, “I’m not saying that’s it over, just see my point of view. Cuz I know there’ll be someone, somewhere, and how do I know it’s you?” How would a person even respond to an utterance like that? The best part is, as soon as he sings, “how do I know it’s you,” the background singers croon “that’s not love.” (Actually, upon review, this song was originally recorded as a demo by their early incarnation Terraplane in 1986, but the lyrics are still in these guys bailiwick …)

Bowes & Morley just know how to write good songs. For the Thunder fans, it won’t get you up and jumping to the same level their hard rock persona does, but you’ll hear enough to want to hear more. And for those who just want to experience a great bluesy modern rock CD, here you are. If you don’t like this CD, well, then you just don’t like music.

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