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George Thorogood and the Destroyers

The Hard Stuff

Review by Gary Hill

I've always had a soft spot in my rock and roll heart for George Thorogood. I saw him live once years ago and used to buy quite a few of his albums. Make no mistake, the guy has the chops. He's a killer guitarist and effective singer. He also has an uncanny ability to create new compositions with a very traditional texture. The downside, though is that often times his music was extremely one dimensional. His roots were heavily in the blues and early rock and roll genres, and those styles can be a bit limiting. Well, I won't tell you that there aren't songs like that here. What I will say is that this release finds Mr. Thorogood stretching out a bit from that basis. You'll hear some 60's style rock here, old school swing era jazz and some 1970's heavy blues rock. This is quite possibly the most diverse disc Thorogood has ever produced. That means that it probably will have more staying power than some of his other albums. The man has always rocked, he just didn't usually do it with as many variations and you'll find here.

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Track by Track Review
Hard Stuff
Thorogood and the boys waste no time getting into it. A killer hard rocking guitar riff starts this one off, and the band launch into their jam. This one still has the trademark Thorogood old school rock and roll texture, but infused with a bit of sound more in line with 1970's classic rock. Think Thorogood playing with Blackfoot and you are probably in the right vicinity. As always, Thorogood's guitar solo is incredibly tasteful and meaty here. Make no mistakes the guy can rock. His vocal delivery, while still having his trademark sound, seems to stretch a bit from the classic years. I can't think of a better rocker to lead off this disc. It's quite obvious from hearing this one that the man can deliver the goods, probably even better than in his hey day.
Hello Josephine
 If the first track shows a harder rocking side to the man, this one turns him in the opposite direction. Thorogood's sound has always had strong roots in the '50's sounds of Bo Diddley and his contemporaries, but on this one he seems to be combining that texture with sounds more along the lines of the swing era. While the guitar solo and other elements still show off that rock and roll texture, there is enough of a jazzy take on the bluesy themes to make you stand up and take notice. Once again, it's good to see him taking chances and expanding his musical horizons.

  With a traditional blues texture, this one has more of the sound that we've come to expect from Thorogood. It's a solid rocker with that down home feel, and another nice addition to change things up. While all of the man's guitar work on the disc is strong, the soloing here is especially tasty.

I Got My Eyes On You
  Now this is the most trademark track on show thus far. It comes from the Bo Diddley grind school of music, and feels a bit like "Move It On Over." Mr. Thorogood's slide guitar here is a nice touch. If this one doesn't get you going, you better check your pulse and call the ambulance. It's a scorcher.

I Didn't Know
 As the intro runs through, Thorogood introduces this one as "a song with a message." It's a standard rocking mid tempo cut. From what I can tell the message is that the more you learn, the less you know. It's another fun one, and I really like the extended stop and starts.
Any Town USA
The opening riff on this one is really strong. While overall this one is pretty standard Thorogood fare, there are elements that remind me of 1960's hard rocking outfits like The Dave Clark Five. His leads here are purely on fire.

Little Rain Falling
This comes from the ballad type school that Mr. G.T. has perfected over the years. The mode is that of just a distorted but quiet guitar accompanying the vocals at first, with the band joining in later with more sedate musical approaches. This one is another change of pace, and that, in addition to a couple smoking sax solos, makes it a great inclusion here. While it's not normally my favorite type of cut, this one might be my favorite on the album.

Cool It!
  Now this groove is all rock and roll swing and a purely vintage production. In fact, it along with "Hello Josephine" are far more traditional old school music than I have ever heard him do before. Think the Stray Cats with a horn section and your moving in the right direction. There's even a killer walking bass solo. You can really picture the bobby soxers twirling around the dance floor to this instrumental!

Love Doctor
Not to be confused with the Kiss song that has a similar name, this is a pretty standard 50's 12-bar rock and roll shuffle. Still, Thorogood's killer guitar accents at the end of the vocal lines and just the overall class of the piece elevate well beyond the mediocre. While he's certainly done this one (in spirit if not in form) before, I'm not sure that he's ever done it better. It's another with an exceptional guitar solo.

Dynaflow Blues
Here we have something that feels a lot like a Robert Johnson back porch blues. It feels quite authentic and presents another side to the artist known as "George Thorogood." I also feel a little Led Zeppelin acoustic blues in here.

Rock Party
This is just what you would expect, a good time rock and roll party song with that Thorogood flair. It's a solid track, just not really a standout.
Drifter's Escape
This one is probably the biggest change of pace yet from Thorogood. It's an acoustic guitar based ballad that feels more like Jimmy Buffett than G.T. While it's another nice change up, it doesn't work that well for me.

Give Me Back My Wig
From the opening riff you can tell that this rocker is going to be a fun ride, and it delivers on that promise. It's nothing earth shattering, but rather just a solid up tempo rock and roller. The guitar solos do scream, though.
Takin' Care of Business
Nope, this isn't the Bachman Turner Overdrive cut. It's actually another that feels a bit like "Move It On Over." As such it feels a bit repetitive, but hey, it's all in good fun. Besides we do get some more of Thorogood's slide work.

Huckle Up Baby
This one almost has a ZZ Top - the old school stuff - feel at times. It's another that's solid, but not exceptionally special. Still, it does make for a high energy conclusion to quite a good disc. It does also include some nice instrumental work and smoking guitar sounds. The "bye, bye, everybody" at the end is a nice touch, too.
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