Mad Max – “Rollin’ Thunder” (1984)

Mad Max!  Nice cover photo. Mustaches, mullets, and mesh… OH MY!

Noteworthy VersionsRollin’ Thunder was originally released in 1984 by Roadrunner Records (Holland).  The LP catalog number was RR 9838.

Roadrunner Records licensed Rollin’ Thunder to Metal Blade Records for the U.S. release.  The LP catalog number was MBR 1030.  The LP also had an Enigma Records catalog number of E 1113.  (At the time Metal Blade Records releases were marketed and distributed by the larger label, Enigma Records.)  The cassette catalog number was EC 1113.

Roadrunner Records also released Rollin’ Thunder in Canada.  The album was distributed by the independent Canadian label, Attic Records (LP: RRR 202, cassette: RRC 202).

In Japan, Rollin’ Thunder was released on vinyl in 1984 by Sounds Marketing System (SMS) Records.  The catalog number was SP25-5135.

Roadrunner Records released Rollin’ Thunder on CD in 1985.  This was a Japan-only release, and part of a series of about 20 Roadrunner CDs released in Japan at the time.  The CD (catalog number RR 34 9838) was packaged in a “slimline” jewel case.  A CD release of an album was an extremely rare occurence in 1985.  Today, this Rollin’ Thunder CD, as well as the other Roadrunner “slimline” CDs, fetch a very high price on the collector’s market.  I’ve included picks of this interesting release in the gallery.

There are a few CD bootlegs of Rollin’ Thunder in existence.  One such bootleg masquerades as a Roadrunner Records release.  The catalog number on the back cover is RR 9838-2 (see gallery).  The actual CD is a replica of the original 1985 Roadrunner “slimline” edition and has the catalog number RR 34 9839, which does not match the catalog number on the cover.  Another less-sophisticated bootleg is also presented in the gallery below.  It does not have a record label or catalog number, and is a fairly obvious bootleg.

A re-mastered edition of Rollin’ Thunder appeared in 2009 in the form of a CD digipak from the Polish label, Metal Mind Productions (MASS CD 1337 DG).  This release is said to be limited to only 2000 “numbered” copies.  The CD was first released in Europe in 2009, and then released in the U.S. in January 2010.  Detailed photos of this CD digipak release are presented in the gallery section below.  

Gallery (click to enlarge):

My Worthless Opinion:  Set aside if you will the unfortunate cover photo (we’ve seem much worse, haven’t we?), and let us focus on the metal at hand.  Rollin’ Thunder was Mad Max’s second album, and the first to feature their new young vocalist Michael Voss.  Besides bringing a fresh and appealing voice to the band, Voss became Mad Max’s principal songwriter.  Indeed, Rollin’ Thunder is a solid melodic metal album highlighted by some truly inspired moments such as the album opener Fly, Fly Away and the exceptional Losing You.  The best tracks are the mid-tempo rockers.  When tackling over-the-top speed on Shout And Cry, Mad Max seems a bit uneasy, and the album’s lone ballad, Thoughts Of A Dying Man, is also a bit of a misfire.  Nevertheless, Rollin’ Thunder is a serviceable slice of mid-eighties Euro-metal.  I often pair this album with another 1984 German album, Capture The Night by Brainfever, both albums sounding gritty but tuneful.  Both albums highlighted by the clean melodic voices of their young frontmen.  Both albums forgotten by all but a few (like you and me).  My score: A-

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