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Anthem by Erik Buell and the Thunderbolts

By Bill Hayes

Rockin’ Renaissance man

Rat Pak Records


“I throw my hands up;
Not another test
It’s never been about
being second best.
So I ride,
and the thrill ain’t gone.
And I try to carry on,
I try to carry on…” —Mike Stone

The lyrics of Mike Stone powering the tune Runnin’ Blind sets the tone for Anthem, the new CD by Erik Buell and the Thunderbolts. It’s a tone of power and moving ahead against some of the hurdles that life heaves into our path.

In the cut Landslide, Stone tells us that “I think it’s time I wake up to another plan. Not a typical day for a typical man…”

It’s no secret that after 16 years of production, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company announced their discontinuation of the Buell line, sending Erik full-bore into the further development of Erik Buell Racing. It’s also no secret that Erik Buell is definitely not a “typical man.” He is a renaissance man—the kind of guy who not only has talent in many fields but the kind of guy who never gives up and who wrings those talents out to the last drop. That’s what the world means to a renaissance man.

World renowned biker musician Charlie Brechtel agrees with Buell’s renaissance man persona: “I knew that Erik was like Leonardo da Vinci with motorcycle engines but I hadn’t known that he was that creative in music, too, until I visited him a couple years ago to do a story on him for Biker’s Inner Circle. I noticed some guitars in his office and I asked him, ‘Hey, do you play those things?’ ‘Oh, yeah!’ he said, so we picked them up and began jamming together. At the time I was working on my new CD, so I wound up writing The Buell Boogie Blues and had Erik play on the track. It made it a great song! Erik is truly one of a kind—he’s one of those guys!”

Anthem is a mixture of many hard rock–based influences. From echoes of Bachman Turner Overdrive (Anthem X) to ZZ Top (definitely some Billy Gibbons–like down and dirty vocals on Wrong Way Home) to a bit of Dickey Betts–style ax-work on Runnin’ Blind. But through all of the influences, the band retains that overtone of power and moving ahead. Even a cut like One More Night—a hard rock treatment of the Kris Kristofferson For the Good Times kind of theme—turns a failed romance into a powerful moving ahead experience.

With Buell and Mike Stone on guitars and vocals, and strong back-up by Ed Laben, Greg Pekley and Dave Stone, Erik Buell and the Thunderbolts have made Anthem one of those straight-ahead, no-gimmick rock CDs that you wish there were more of. It’s kind of like a new Buell 1190RR Superbike screaming down the track—it just can’t be stopped.

The final track on Anthem is Firestorm—with lyrics by Erik: “If I can’t make a difference, why the hell was I born? It’s a firestorm…”

In music, as well as in the world of motorcycling, Erik Buell has definitely made a difference.

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