Sweet Thunder – 1978 – Sweet Thunder
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Formed in 1975 in Philadelphia, by Booker Newberry III (keyboards, lead vocals). The other members were Charles Allen Buie ((lead guitar, keyboards, lead vocals), Rudell Alexander (bass, vocals), John Aaron (drums, vocals), David Thomas (16) (keyboards, vocals).
Newberry began his professional singing career in the group Mystic Nights around 1971. Moving to Philadelphia he became the lead singer of Sweet Thunder.
Signing with the Philly-based record label WMOT Records, the group’s single, “Baby I Need Your Love Today” b/w “I Don’t Care What You Say,” stirred interest and was picked up for distribution by Berkeley, California based Fantasy Records.
The group recorded three albums, Above The Clouds (1976), Sweet Thunder (1978), and Horizons (1979), the latter of which saw the single “I Leave You Stronger“, go to #63Billboard R&B chart in late 1979. Newberry joined another WMOT Records group, Impact, who was best known for the dance hits “Give a Broken Heart a Break” and “Rainy Days Stormy Nights“.
Newberry signed with Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records in 1983, and his solo single “Love Town” originally released on the Boardwalk label, was a Top 10 UK hit. The Love Town album was issued the same year. He has also recorded for Malaco Records and Omni Records – (the LP Take a Piece of Me).
A1 Baby I Need Your Love Today 8:52
A2 I Don’t Care What You Say 6:04
A3 Hot Line 5:37
B1 Everybody’s Singin’ Love Songs 4:59
B2 Keep On Growin’ 4:36
B3 Joyful Noise 4:25
B4 Sweet Thunder 5:12
Review from All Things Deep
While Sweet Thunder never had the chart success of their contemporaries Slave, Lakeside or Sun, they nonetheless are a testament to the strength of the Ohio scene during the 1970s. Comprised of John Aaron (drums), Booker Newberry (keyboards), Charles Buie (guitar) and Rudell Alexander (bass), the Youngstown, Ohio based group earned a record contract by sending out demo tapes to various labels; the band did not even have a name until WMOT signed them in 1976.
With excellent vocal harmonies as their trademark, the obscure Above The Clouds hit shelves in 1976 and sank without a trace. Their breakthrough came when their self-titled disc was issued in 1978. Equally effective at uptempo tunes and slow jams, the ballad “Baby I Need Your Love Today” hit the top 20 as a single that year. The song still receives occasional airplay on quiet storm radio.
Despite an auspicious beginning, Sweet Thunder broke up by 1980. Questionable record label policies may have hastened their demise; although they were signed to Philadelphia-based WMOT, their records were distributed by west coast jazz label Fantasy. Needless to say, soul music was not Fantasy’s strength, and none of their LPs received much promotional support from the label.
Booker Newberry was the only member to continue as a recording artist. He is best known for “Love Town” (Boardwalk, 1983) and “Take A Piece of Me” (Omni, 1986).
Sweet Thunder’s Deepest Grooves
Above The Clouds (Fantasy/WMOT, 1976)
Sweet Thunder (Fantasy/WMOT, 1978)
An underground classic highlighted by the stompers “Everybody’s Singing Love Songs” and “Make A Joyful Noise.” Also home to their biggest hit, “Baby I Need Your Love Today.” Pay special attention to “I Don’t Care What You Say”, which transforms from a ballad into propulsive dancefloor material, a la “Love Hangover.” And you can’t go without the soulful cult classic “Hot Line”, which was also done by the equally obscure Shotgun.
Horizons (Fantasy/WMOT, 1979)
The hardest-hitting Sweet Thunder album, with elements of P-Funk, Isley Brothers and Maze audibly noticeable alongside the classic Sweet Thunder sound. Most notable cuts include “It’s You That I Need”, “Rock“, and “Tender Days“.
Everybody’s Singing Love Songs (Hot, 1995)
Lazy reissue of the second album under a different title. Includes no bonus tracks.