Party Of One
My abiding memory of this is entertaining artist is being backstage at the Shepherds Bush Empire trying to interview the opening act Big Head Todd & The Monsters, with a gruff voice coming through the cracked door intoning “ We owe it all to George Thorogood! He is The Man !”…striding over to the entrance I found George crouched on the floor trying to get his contribution onto my tape ! We happily traded some peace and quiet for a Savoy Brown album that I had been asked to pass on to Thorogood. I got the exact smile that Thorogood shows on the cover of this release, an album which finds the singer and robust guitar player digging his roots.
With veteran studio maestro Jim Gaines producing and with Thorogood playing all the instruments, you have a feeling that George will pull this off.
I’m A Steady Rollin’Man finds that whining electric slide guitar bringing in George’s seasoned but lively vocal on the ancient Robert Johnson tune. It is focused and gritty. It fades on downwards swoops. A clean acoustic country setting suits Soft Spot, a rather tender folk tale. George sings in a gentle intimate voice and it’s a lovely recording, echoes of Hank Williams and John Prine.
Tallahassee Women is from the pen of John Hammond Jnr and an ominous build is perfect. This is strong stuff but no yelling. The richness of Thorogood’s voice comes over well. The electric slide patters along with purpose. Wang Dang Doodle is a song one of my bands has been reviving in the studio lately, a great Wolf party story indeed. It’s taken at a rattling syncopated pace here with some puffing harp overdubs. Then we are in John Lee Hooker territory as Thorogood gives the steam train treatment to Boogie Chillun. It’s nimble and characteristically authentic, acoustic and driven.
No Expectations is the old Stones number, always one of Jagger’s better slow performances. George uses the slide to bring out the ache of the composition and it’s one of the best performances on this set, certainly for feel. Johnny Cash’s Bad News is a sprightly acoustic version, with Thorogood’s vocal working well. A good choice for this collection. Down The Highway is a lesser known Dylan song. Played in a clipped style, the singer makes this sound tougher than tough acoustic outing. There had to be an Elmore James track or two ! Got To Move has the fruity electric guitar at maximum snarl and a steady beat.
Born With The Blues is a Brownie McGhee that I think I saw Brownie perform at the Toby Jug, with Sonny Terry on the harp. A choppy acoustic puts the bounce into the delivery here and the vocal is comfortable but heartfelt. This might have inspired Just Your Fool. The Sky Is Crying is a tune that has been done to death over recent times. Authentic it sounds here, but over-familiar.
The Hookers – in stomping story mode here – again celebrates JLH and his sparse stomping manner. Pictures From Life’s Other Side goes right back to Hank Williams and its rolling cadences are in good hands here,George sure can put this material over. Final track is a snappy take on Hooker’s One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer.
A fine set of performances by an artist who is the real deal, with the Cash song being the cherry on the cake.
Feature Image Credit: David Dobson
George Thorogood’s new album ‘Party Of One’ is released on Friday 4th August by Spinefarm Records
For more information visit his official website here: https://www.georgethorogood.com/