|Released 1978 by Rounder Records|
|Produced jointly by GT, Ken Irwin and John Nagy|
|Recorded at Dimension Sound, Boston, MA|
|Mixed at The Mixing Lab, Newton, MA|
Complete Liner Notes
Rockin' Rhythm 'n Blues
No one was more surprised than we with the phenomenal success of George Thorogood and the Destroyers, following quickly on the heels of the release of their first album. We had been hearing about George Thorogood for a very long time before we actually met him or heard him play, all from the persistent John Forward who insisted in no uncertain terms that this guy Thorogood could play it all, anything you want to hear - blues (acoustic or electric), energetic rock 'n' roll, powerhouse slide guitar, country & western, folk, and all with consummate skill and professionalism. It was a little too much to be believed.
While George's first tapes didn't bowl us over quite as much as his live sets had captured John Forward, we were still clearly impressed with the unquestionable merit of the music itself. But what to do with it? Clearly, the early Rolling Stones didn't belong on Rounder Records, largely a traditionally-based folk, bluegrass, and blues label. And George Thorogood is probably closer in style and approach to the early Stones than he is to most of our catalog.
All such considerations were rendered largely academic, however, by our meeting George Thorogood, Jeff Simon, and Billy Blough - the Destroyers. No doubt, if we had met the Destroyers earlier, their album would have been issued a great deal sooner. We had enjoyed their music on tape for some time, but meeting the Destroyers was the clincher. They're the guys who sell this music night after night on stage and, offstage, they're as unaffected and winning as they are up there under the lights.
The most surprising fact of all, in what has led to a closer Destroyers-Rounder association, is that George Thorogood's own attitude to, and relationship with, his own music and its place in the music business is so remarkably similar to our own attitudes. We have a large amount of "folk music", in the strict sense of the term, in our catalog: indigenous music created and played for people at the local level. This fact initailly interested George in us; he likes many of the traditional performers on our label.
George and his friends, like ourselves, are also great supporters of the many local institutions that contribute to a community or neighborhood consciousness (which has given us many excellent folk musicians, who usually went unrecognized among mass audiences and the mass media). the neighborhood bar, the local ball team, nearby movie halls and drive-ins, are a strong part of the everyday life of the Destroyers. Finding joy in the commonplace, identifying himself with the "regular guys" of this country, both contribute to the charm of George Thorogood, the man, and have made it such a pleasure for us at Rounder to grow with George Thorogood and the Destroyers and to grow closer to them.
George was the first person we heard refer to much of his repertoir as traditional rock'n roll. And that's just what it is, minus any of the pedantic or lifeless connotations of the copier or imitator and plus maybe even more of the verve and spirit than some of the originals, like Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley or John Lee Hooker.
George Thorogood has far from a one-track mind in relation to his music, though. It's usually the essence of a given song and the image it projects that determines whether it'll work Destroyers-style, more than its source in blues or rock 'n' roll history. Sterling examples are Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" or Johnny Cash's version of "Cocaine Blues", two showcase numbers for the Destroyers that originate in the country and western field.
Which brings usto why and how George takes to, or doesn't take to, a particular tune. First and foremost, George Thorogood is an entertainer onstage and, if the audience's reactions are to be believed, he is more than a passably good actor. He must be able to become, for stage purposes, the "man in black" of "Cocaine Blues", the down-and-out, street-wise drinker of "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer", or the elusive good-timing rocker and rounder of "It Wasn't Me." George Thorogood is not primarily a songwriter, unlike many major rock stars of recent years, but he is one of a rare and illustrious breed: the entertainer. Selling a song through his own acting, guitar-playing, and singing abilities is George Thorogood's strength and it is to his credit that he had the good sense to follow this lead.
For us at Rounder, working with George Thorogood is a rare and unexpected delight because of his business preferences, as well as his musical and entertainment preferences. Or perhaps because of the way he extends his non-business preferences into his business life. Like us, George likes to go about his business with a minumum of fuss, fanfare, and formality.
Certainly, we've all enjoyed the excitement and new opportunities that have widened our horizons as a result of the acclaim accorded the first George Thorogood album, but we've also tried to remain as free as possible of the so-called "necessary" trappings of success on the music industry's own terms. We all still like "old" music best, with a few exceptions, and prefer obscurer, quality labels like Arhoolie or Excello more than the bustling, blustering conglomerates. The Destroyers still don't travel with a road manager or sound crew and Rounder is still independently distributed. The Destroyers' perennially favorite places to play are the small clubs they first played, even if their recent popularity may necessitate phantom or pseudonymous short-notice appearances so as to get small enough crowds to fit into the club. With Rounder's and the Destroyers' continued success, we all hope to see the network of independently controlled and operated distribution strengthened financially and more sought after by stores that care about music. All of our "eccentricities" have earned Rounder and the Destroyers the proud reputation of being "fiercely independent" and George Thorogood that of "reluctant star."
When George even picks up on a hint that his freedom to spend time doing what he likes best is being threatened, he immediately becomes the stubborn and defiant character that has puzzled many a novice reporter or the businessman who values success at any cost. George Thorogood does not value success at any cost. Playing music gives George great pleasure and it gives his audiences great pleasure. However, he emphatically does not enjoy the excessive adulation, false pressures, and artificial pleasures that have accompanied many rock musicians on their journey to success. Sometimes it's no easy matter just to keep one's vision clear and one's head clean.
It's a matter of priorities. What is more important in life in the final analysis? Enjoying music you like, having fun with people you care about, playing ball, going to the movies, watching the wrestling on T.V., or getting ulcers, frustration, and hypertension from working too hard under too much pressure? The answer lies in George Thorogood and the Destroyers' totally unpretentious, thoroughly energizing, and immensely satisfying shows. Attitude makes all the difference. And attitude, as well as music, makes working with George Thorogood and the Destroyers a continuously rewarding and renewing experience...just like seeing his shows. After all, as George says, "If it isn't fun, it ain't worth doing."
Fall 1978, The Rounder Folks