After an eight-year recording hiatus, The Fabulous Thunderbirds are back in action with the album Struck Down comprised of 9 original tracks by Kim Wilson, the band’s leader since 1974, i.e. 50 years already, and by Canadian bluesman and guitarist Steve Strongman of Hamilton. The other members of the current band, in addition to Wilson, on vocals and harmonica, are Johnny Moeller, on guitar, Bob Welsh, on keyboards and guitar, Ruby Albin, on drums and Steve Kirsty, on the bass. It is interesting to note that during their lengthy career, the Fabulous Thunderbirds were nominated six times for the Grammy Awards and more than twenty times for the Blues Music Awards. Their return with Struck Down features guest appearances by several distinguished guests including Steve Strongman, on guitar on the title track “Struck Down By The Blues”, Terrance Simien, on accordion and washboard on the catchy piece, with a Cajun flavour, “Don’t Make No Sense!” Billy Gibbons is on guitar and raspy-voiced backing vocals on the energetic “Payback Time”. Keb Mo, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal trade verses with Kim Wilson on “Nothing In Rambling”, this roots blues piece by Memphis Minnie. What a good idea to share this old school blues between fellow blueswomen and men, and to revive, in doing so, this collegiality inherent to the blues; Kim Wilson is particularly brilliant and energetic on harmonica, Keb Mo, elegant on slide guitar, and Mick Fleetwood takes care of the drums/percussion with ease. The up-tempo piece “Won’t Give Up” rekindles the flames and the band is back on fire. “The Hard Way”, a reflective ballad, philosophizes on the fact that when things are too easy, we can lose our way and that the difficult path turns out to be preferable and more profitable, in the end. “I’m giving up on easy, Giving up on smooth, This way of living Is really messing with my groove, Only one thing to say Doing it the hard way…” Elvin Bishop is another guest of choice on the mid-tempo shuffle “Watcha Do To Me” on which he sings with his guitar alternating with the harmonica. Good Chicago Blues!  “I’ve Got Eyes” is another piece that keeps us moving, courtesy of the Fabulous Thunderbirds plus Strongman who plays guitar on eight tracks in addition to co-producing with Kim Wilson and Glen Parrish. Strongman’s significant contribution to this project is undeniable. “That’s Cold” is unbridled rock that tells the story of the guy whose wife left and who, despite feeling a certain cooling, didn’t see it coming. It happened surreptitiously like a cold that freezes you and seizes you, suddenly, without you being able to do anything about it!  The disc ends with “Sideline”, a ballad with choirs, in the purest style. The chorus sums up the importance of actively engaging in the present moment, “There’s no winning, No losing, No ties, You were either playing, Or you’re on the sideline”… This record is a well-executed, well-orchestrated success. First of all, the lyrics are consistent and deliver relatable stories and messages. The overall approach is varied, well balanced and it provides refreshing moments! The guests are hand-picked and well integrated into the project. The arrangements are impeccable, the musicians are excellent and they deliver solid performances! Finally, to complete the loop, the production is consistent and careful, judiciously down to the smallest details. When listening, we vibrate with quality music which exudes unity and cohesion in all departments and which required the contribution of around thirty people from the design and production. The easy route was not favoured for this opus, they took “The Hard Way”, that of good preparation, cooperation at all stages, and in the end a job well done! Those who love the Fabulous Thunderbirds will not be disappointed and there is no doubt that fans of contemporary blues and blues rock will appreciate this talented crew at work, as well as the quality and sincerity of the performances offered by the artists!  Follow the QR code on the album to see the lyrics. Good listening!  (Pierre Jobin)