fountainhead: June 2006 Archives

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By MARK VOGER
Asbury Park (N.J.) Press
06/03/2006

It

Another triumph for a true-blue survivor on tour for life

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Wednesday May 31st 2006

He might not be in today's hit parade, but George Thorogood is a bona fide rock veteran. He remains the only rock musician to have played all 50 states of America within 50 days, a feat that is almost logistically impossible.

This touring thoroughbred has been on the road since the release of his first album 'Better than the Rest' back in 1974. Thorogood and his cohorts, the Destroyers, clearly have a fervent Irish fan base who lap up every second of his raw and rugged take on bluesy rock 'n' roll.

He looks weathered but remarkably fit and healthy for a man of his years, belting out sweaty blues standards for a full two hours and 10 minutes.

Thorogood's most famous song was made famous by John Lee Hooker, the legendary 'One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer', which is probably the most famous blues song ever written about booze. Add that to the usual 'my baby left me this morning' theme and you've virtually got an entire genre. Obviously, this was on the setlist alongside a slew of celebrated classics.

The last time George brought his six-string to these shores was for an all-seated show in this same venue.

This appearance worked much better, allowing a boisterous crowd to join in with his riff-laden jam and holler while boogying in the aisles. The funniest part of the show was when he said he wanted to play a song for the "more sophisticated rock fan" and proceeded to play another golden oldie, 'Cut Your Hair and Get a Real Job'.

Judging by the reaction, there appeared to be a lot of rebellious teens trapped inside older bodies. Contemporary rock appears to value freshly-cut hype over true-blue survivors.

Whenever the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs aren't able to get people to cross the street to see them live, George Thorogood will probably still be packing them in on his never-ending tour.

EAMON SWEENEY

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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Friday, June 02, 2006
Gary Graff
Special to The Plain Dealer

George Thorogood is the first to admit that his music is "not the most complicated stuff you'll ever hear." But there's a bit more breadth to his new album, "The Hard Stuff" (Eagle), and he wants people to notice that.

"I just want to show that the band has more depth than we get credit for," Thorogood says. " One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer' is practically one chord; so is Bad to the Bone.' They just happen to be our most popular songs, but we do a lot more than that."

"The Hard Stuff" has plenty of the gritty blues-rock that is Thorogood's stock-in-trade, but he and his band, the Destroyers, also delve into Cajun country on their arrangement of Fats Domino's "Hello Josephine," take things to the garage on "Give Me Back My Wig" and "Any Town USA" and bring a rural-roots flavor to "Dynaflow Blues" and Jimmy Reed's "Little Rain." They lend a subtle Latin flavor to Bob Dylan's "Drifter's Escape," while "Cool It!" is a swinging instrumental showcase for Thorogood's six-string and Buddy Leach's saxophone.

"It comes down to this: A good tune is a good tune is a good tune," Thorogood says. "I was talking to a vice president of EMI Records 20 years ago; we were struggling with one album to find the material. He told me a story about being at a party one time, and he went up to Quincy Jones -- the world's most famous producer next to George Martin, right? And he said, Quincy, what makes a hit tune?'

"And Quincy Jones said, Three things -- the tune, the tune and the tune. That's what does it.' I always keep that in mind."

George with Peter Gammons

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Baseball scribe Peter Gammons will release his first album, "Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old," July 4 via Rounder Records. In addition to a host of originals, the set finds Gammon singing and playing guitar on covers of Warren Zevon's "Model Citizen" and the Clash's "Death or Glory."

Gammons is joined on the project by George Thorogood and such Boston music scene notables as Juliana Hatfield and former Letters To Cleo vocalist Kay Hanley, as well as Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and major-leaguers like Bronson Arroyo, Trot Nixon, Tim Wakefield and Jonathan Papelbon.

Proceeds from the album will benefit the Foundation To Be Named Later, which raises funds for disadvantaged youngsters.