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Triumph: Thunder Seven (remaster)

There are ten thunders in The Wake:
The seventh thunder is Tribal Man Again.

So proclaims Triumph's seventh studio album. The numeral VII generally represents perfection; is that what this hard rockin' Canadian trio achieved? Let's say the guys got pretty darned close—this new Millennium remaster from Metalworks Studios & drummer-producer and one-time Triumph vocalist Gil Moore swear by it! Thunder Seven was Triumph's first with MCA following a particularly nasty debacle with RCA where royalties and other elements of the music business are concerned; it's also a bit of a concept album—this is best explained in the 1985 tourbook, from which the text is reproduced at the top of this page.

T7, as we shall refer to it, blasts off with the powerhouse toe-tapper "Spellbound," sung by Moore. A rowdy one with lots of attitude, it possesses a certain something the band was never able to reproduce live (the mangled version on A Night Of Triumph Live is disheartening). Guitarist Rik Emmett's granite-dense chords clang away brutally, and his solo (as did all of his) reminded that Eddie Van Halen wasn't the only guy to incite air guitar rituals. "Rock Out, Roll On" turns the mic over to Emmett; it's a lower key (figuratively and literally) number that has a spectral air about it, and not necessarily because of the first line. "Cool Down" turned out to be very memorable with its retro vibe and Plant-esque vocal; one won't find Emmett's acoustic guitar work less than savory. "Follow Your Heart" is another Moore song, friendly finger-snapping fare trimmed to shape for FM airplay. It's well-constructed but turns out to be the album's low point.

The second half of T7 comes across as more visibly "conceptual," for good reason. "Time Goes By" effects a mood no other tune on the album can replicate. Lyrically and instrumentally, the song isn't a complex one, but is one of Triumph's most enduring and a common favorite among fans—not to mention it sports the best intro on the platter. In a semi-perfect world, "Time Goes By" would have ruled the airwaves along with "I'll Wait," "Perfect Strangers," and "Distant Early Warning" that same year of 1984. Emmett's lead vocal is outstanding, and the harmonies by he and Moore, super. Moore even seems to hold back just a little, playing more "in the pocket," so to say, though he hits his crash cymbal a bit often during the subtler verses. Emmett's guitar solo seems less inventive compared to the rest, and yet it fits snugly into the sonorous scheme like a Lego piece; parts of the solo may have been recorded (or notes layered) with the Roland guitar synth Emmett began using during the T7 sessions—and what a beautiful tone! Lest bassman Mike Levine be left out, his presence is integral to the song's slightly cerebral gleam.

Emmett's solo instrumental is "Midsummer's Daydream"—on certain days, it seems perfectly placed after "Time Goes By," on other days perhaps it should have followed "Cool Down." The a cappella "Time Canon" was another first for Triumph, and better heard than discussed. It's pulled off without a hitch (though the shorter version was chosen) thanks to the reservoir of vocal power afforded this trio. "Time Canon" transitions into the doleful "Killing Time," sung by both Emmett and Moore (which they should have done more often)—another that should have enjoyed a radio presence. Everyone will identify with its pensive text. The Emmett-penned "Stranger In A Strange Land" is a real curve ball, a sleeper track for the true fan. Moore's drumming is tethered (which fits the song), Levine's bass tone gains considerable mass, and the lyrics, ripe with allegory, are anything but what one would expect from a Triumph song (too bad no live versions seem to exist). Yet another plus for Side B, as it used to be called. T7's closer is the best instrumental the guys ever recorded, Emmett's prized acoustic interludes notwithstanding. A bluesy thematic piece that comes across as a "dirge-ballad," "Little Boy Blues" was actually inspired by the idea of prospective fatherhood. Seldom has Emmett wrung more expression from a pentatonic scale and a few vibrating strings. A powerful track that more people ought to know of!

There are ten thunders in The Wake


1. Spellbound
2. Rock Out, Roll On
3. Cool Down
4. Follow Your Heart
5. Time Goes By
6. Midsummer's Daydream (Instrumental)
7. Time Canon
8. Killing Time
9. Stranger In A Strange Land
10. Little Boy Blues (Instrumental)

Total time – 41:26

Added: September 22nd 2005
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
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Language: english

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Triumph: Thunder Seven (remaster)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-09-22 06:30:37
My Score:

As I listened to the remastered CD for Triumph's Thunder Seven I was instantly reminded of the tour they did to support it. In 1984 I had attended a performance of this show and the Thunder Seven tour was a great memory for me to recall. Not only was it to be a tremendous night of music which featured Mountain and Loudness on the bill, but it would also be the first time that I ever saw this Canadian Import. It was truly a great evening of music from some of Rocks finest artisans. When Thunder Seven was released Triumph was on top of their game and the consistent radio play of songs like "Spellbound" and "Follow Your Heart" gave strength to this even more. Rock radio was in full command of things at this time and as a result people who had never heard of these Progressive Rock Kings were hearing them on the air in regular rotations. Nowadays classic Rock is limited to one or two stations and you will be lucky to ever hear Triumph. Today you seldom see Rock bands making an impact as great as Triumph did in their day. This day and age is more about quick numbers and easy output, true talent often takes some searching. With this release we find some of the best guitar work and singing by Rik Emmet. Gil Moore proves that drummers can deliver not only powerful playing but also be great singers. Mike Levine as always provides his most solid bass work and backing vocals.

This CD is perhaps my favorite in the Triumph catalog and I think that TML Entertainment has done a great job on the remastering of them. Songs like the ones I mention above as well as "Time Goes By" and "Rock Out, Roll On" come to life ever more with the re-issue. Similar to the other editions in the set this piece includes all of the album art and song lyrics. No bonus tracks are included which is a little on the disappointing side. This is the perfect CD to get if you are curious about Triumph and wish to own one of their best releases. It will also allow you to replace that tired and long worn out Vinyl. I know I did.

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