Terraplane: Black And White (reissue)
Close your eyes real tight and try to remember a day before British rockers Thunder existed.....difficult isn't it? However this welcome reissue of the debut album by a certain Terraplane proves that indeed there was a time before that loud clap of Thunder existed. Although in a way they did even then. To explain, Terraplane consisted of guitarist Luke Morley, singer Danny Bowes and drummer Gary James (all three of which would go on to form Thunder) and bassist Nick Linden (second guitarist Rudi Riviere would feature on one track here, before joining the band full time) and while there are obvious differences between Black And White and the Thunder debut Backstreet Symphony, so there are also many similarities. Starting out with a 7" single "I Survive", backed by "Gimme Me The Money" on City Records (both recordings feature here as bonus tracks) in 1983, the band soon came to the notice of Epic Records who signed them up, got them together with producer Liam Henshall and allowed them to scoot around ten (yes, ten) different studios across the UK to get the perfect sound. To be fair to all concerned (and Andy Pearce who re-mastered this HNE Recordings/Cherry Red reissue expertly) the end product does rather sparkle.
The album itself, Black And White, saw the light of day in '85, receiving critical acclaim with a "five K" review in the Rock bible of the day, Kerrang! (which along with a host of nostalgia inducing magazine clips features in the booklet), and it's easy to hear why with a sound that lands somewhere between the Bluesy Rock Thunder would go on to make their own and a slightly slicker, FM (the band) like sheen. A beefed up, yet at the same time smoother "I Survive" is a prime example of the sound Terraplane employed to such great effect, while "Right Between The Eyes" lands somewhere between the Free like Rock Luke Morley has always held dear and a heavier Rhythm and Blues feel, with Linden's bass thumping for all its worth. The album's title track and "I Can't Live Without Your Love" however reveal their age a little more, the keyboard bleeps and bloops of the latter and synth sprinkles of the former also hinting at the more commercial edge that Epic Records desired and producer Hanshall's past reveal (he sat behind the desk for the chart hit "Love And Pride" by new wavers King), although Morley's gritty guitars always keep things on the right track. Closing number, the string laden and choral backed "Couldn't Handle The Tears", finds a young Morley as a surprisingly accomplished composer of Rock and so much more, while session singer Ruby Turner (who would go on to have a successful solo career) duets with Bowes quite superbly. Oh and Squeeze piano plinker Jools Holland even makes an appearance on "I'm The One"!
Listen to anything that Danny Bowes has put his voice to and you'll find a singer capable of a passionate, soulful delivery and one who never disappoints, and he's no different here. Although on occasion a slight hint of Slade's Noddy Holder reveals an early influence not so readily heard on his later work.
Black And White really is a forgotten and surprisingly accomplished effort from a band who should have been too wet behind the ears to be making something so worthy and it is an album that followers of either Bluesy Rock, or Melodic Hard Rock really should have in their collection. Put simply, when you factor in seven classy bonus tracks which range from studio cuts to demos and a live take, as well as liner notes from Malcolm Dome featuring interviews with Morley, Bowes and Henshall, then really, this is a reissue you shouldn't pass up.
Terraplane would go on to release one more album, the less rockin', more soulful Moving Target in 1987, before splitting and then morphing into the evergreen, on and off, but still going strong Thunder, but that's another story....in the meantime, savour the ever so colourful Black And White.
1. Don't Walk Away
2. When You're Hot
3. I Can't Live Without Your Love
4. Talking To Myself
5. You Can't Hurt Me Anymore
6. I Survive
7. Right Between The Eyes
8. Black And White
9. I'm The One
10. Get Your Face Out Of My Dream
11. Couldn't Handle The Tears
12. Beginning Of The End
13. Let The Wheels Go Round
14. Get Your Face Out Of My Dream (Demo Version - Previously Unreleased)
15. All Night And Day (Live)
16. Tough Kind Of Life
17. I Survive (City Records version)
18. Gimme The Money (City Records version)
Added: June 29th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Black And White at Cherry Red
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