George Thorogood & the Destroyers, "The Hard Stuff"

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Music Review by Paul Schultz
Published: June 2, 2006

You always know what you're going to get with a George Thorogood record, and that's a good thing. For over thirty years, he and his band, the Destroyers, have been plying their brand of blues-rock to anyone and everyone that will listen, and they do indeed deliver the hard stuff on their latest release. Early musical influences are represented with a generous seasoning of blues covers and I, for one, thank Thorogood for digging them out of obscurity for a new generation of listeners.

A Thorogood original (written with Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, producer and performer, Tom Hambridge, and Destroyer guitarist Jim Suhler) starts things off in enthusiastic fashion with the hard-hitting title track, opening with a riff similar to Dwight Yoakam's "Fast as You", only with the volume cranked up to 11. Thorogood's signature slide guitar soon makes its presence heard, and features prominently throughout the record, particularly on "Love Doctor", "Taking Care of Business" and culminating frenetically in the finale. His take on Howlin' Wolf's "Moving" displays some tasty guitar work, but this is probably the most glaring example of a song that just can't be believably sung by a white guy. He does better on Fats Domino's "Hello Josephine", accompanied by Buddy Leach's saxophone playing, which is also spotlighted on the Jimmy Reed ballad "Little Rain".

"Now, here's a song with a message" Thorogood announces in the repetitive "I Didn't Know" that cleverly brings the music completely to a halt several times, as if the silence will help him think about why he doesn't know what he doesn't know. Always capable of finding a goofy song and making it work (who else could pull off "Get A Haircut"?), the boys present Hound Dog Taylor's "Give Me Back My Wig" with such speedy precision that you don't bother to ponder the "give me back my wig, honey let your head go bald" lyrics.

At about the midway point, the instrumental "Cool It" epitomizes a group effort with guitar, sax, and bass soloing. The blue-collar rocking highlight is "Any Town USA" which has Thorogood engaging in plenty of name dropping as he rattles off landmarks in cities such as Cleveland (Jacob's Field, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), Chicago (Checkboard Lounge, Wrigley Field) and Detroit, and also mentioning "Big Ten Michigan". The driving "Rock Party" finds Thorogood name dropping his own music catalog: "I feel like shaking up somebody's home/I'm sick and tired of drinkin' alone/I'm gonna show ya that I'm bad to the bone at the rock party tonight". It's not all one speed, however, as Thorogood dials things down for Bob Dylan's "Drifter's Escape" and resonates on a biscuit cone guitar for Johnny Shines' "Dynaflow Blues".

Sounding like a manic "Spirit in the Sky", the album concludes on a blistering high note, with the John Lee Hooker classic boogie "Huckle Up Baby". Thorogood growls his familiar line "you know what I'm talkin' about" before sending this song into the musical stratosphere with an inspired slide guitar performance. For a guy in his mid-fifties, Thorogood can still bring the hard stuff as well as he ever has. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the party album of the summer.

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This page contains a single entry by fountainhead published on June 3, 2006 12:28 AM.

Thorogood's Hard Stuff serves more than bourbon, scotch, beer was the previous entry in this blog.

Another triumph for a true-blue survivor on tour for life is the next entry in this blog.

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