Billed as “the delicate sound of Thunder” in press blurb, ‘Please Remain Seated’ is not your usual “Best Of” compilation. Nor is it the British rock stalwarts simply stripping down some of their best-loved compositions into the usual de-rocked, de-frocked acoustic versions that so many acts seem to indulge in. Oh no. This collection of reworked tunes has a significant twist. The instrumentations might’ve been stripped of any rock/metal heaviness, but we’re not talking musical minimalism in any small way here. Rather, Thunder have reimagined a series of compositions within the context of different styles of music. Quite the array of genres, in fact. The results make for not only an interesting experiment, but a fairly diverse and varied listening experience.
As an experimental outing of compositional reimagining, it admirably succeeds in its goal, although some tracks work better than others. This isn’t a perfect album. But nor is it meant to be. In liner notes, they explain that they’ve not attempted “to edit the chaos” of the sessions and “that’s why you can hear laughing, coughing, stuff getting dropped, and all manner of weird stuff in between the tunes (and, in some cases, within the tunes, as well).” It all makes for a fun ride. And it’s not as rough and ready as they make it sound. It’s all pretty polished, it must be said. Another admirable achievement, considering they all performed live in the studio with, presumably, all instruments and voices tracked simultaneously. And it’s not just about Thunder, as they invited a number of guests into the fold to lend their talents to these reimaginings. So, like I previously said, this is far from being all about stripped down minimalism.
So, what of the styles on offer? We’re treated to blues; soul; jazz; country; lounge; folk; etc. The lounge jazz version of ‘Girl’s Going Out of Her Head’ is a particular highlight in proceedings. To be honest, it’s all generally rather impressive stuff, and they’ve made each song’s transformation into a different genre sound so seamless. A testament to their songcraft in the first place, whereby any well composed tune should be malleable and open to be re-stylised. But their abilities to transform them shouldn’t be taken for granted. The songs sound at home within the context of these new styles, but I’m sure there was a hell of a lot of hard work in getting them to sound as they do. They describe this as a “strange journey into our own music”, and I guess that sums it all up perfectly.
While, in general, I believe the rock and metal scenes to be ever so accepting in embracing and indulging in other genres of music, I guess this album will provide a true test of such for Thunder enthusiasts everywhere. I’d like to think everyone will welcome this with open arms and appreciate its ingenuity. As the band themselves have politely requested via the album’s title, please remain seated and enjoy the ride. And, for those of you who do enjoy the experience, then you’ll definitely want to grab this deluxe edition when it’s out, as there’s a second disc loaded with more of the same.
PLEASE REMAIN SEATED (DELUXE EDITION)
Review by Mark Holmes
18th January 2019
CD1: 1) Bigger Than Both of Us; 2) Future Train; 3) Girl's Going Out of Her Head; 4) I'm Dreaming Again; 5) Fly on the Wall; 6) Just Another Suicide; 7) Empty City; 8) Miracle Man; 9) Blown Away; 10) Loser; 11) She's So Fine; 12) Low Life in High Places
CD2: 1) Stand Up; 2) River of Pain; 3) Like a Satellite; 4) Robert Johnson's Tombstone; 5) Higher Ground; 6) Everybody Wants Her; 7) Long Way From Home
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"As an experimental outing of compositional reimagining, it admirably succeeds in its goal..."