George Thorogood – ‘Party Of One’ (Rounder/Spinefarm) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Thursday, 03 August 2017 04:30

George Thorogood artworkNow, there are many who could be forgiven for thinking that George Thorogood has been a solo artist for many years, with The Destroyers just being his backing band… but, that has never been the case, as GT&TD is very much a solid entity, and have been since day one: Thorogood and drummer Jim Simon have been as inseparable as conjoined twins since the group’s high school origins, while bassist Billy Blough has been holding down the bottom end of their sound for 41 years…


Now, in the 40th anniversary year of the gold-selling ‘George Thorogood And The Destroyers’ debut, the man himself has finally stepped into the true solo spotlight – in every sense of the word, as the title alone, ‘Party Of One’, exemplifies. For this is just George, his guitar – and occasionally a harp – stripped back and raw, as he turns the hands of time back to the blues that first inspired him and offers up a collection of 14 naked interpretations of a variety of songs from a diverse range of artists, from Robert Johnson through to John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon to Hank Williams, The Rolling Stones to Elmore James.


The album is not only a completing of the circle in musical terms, but also in professional ones as well, as it is released via Rounder Records – the label that released the first three Destroyers albums. It also sees him re-united with producer Jim Gaines, with whom Thorogood partnered throughout the Noughties on a trio of albums that defied the indie-pop/dance dominance of the US charts to give the artist three of his most commercially successfully albums in almost two decades.


The result is an album which epitomizes the spirit of the blues, played from the heart and the soul. Some of the tracks will be familiar – Robert Johnson’s ‘I’m A Steady Rollin’ Man’, with its beautiful dobro underpinning the simply picked main mien, Dixon’s ‘Wang Dang Doodle’, Hooker’s ‘Boogie Chillen’ and James’ Got To Move’ – but others not so: Johnny Cash’s ironic ‘Bad News’, with its clever demonstration of the common roots of blues and country, won’t be found on the majority of the Man In Black’s compilations, while ‘No Expectation’ probably hasn’t featured on many Stones playlists since the late ‘60s.


Most familiar to Destroyers fans, of course, will be Thorogood’s interpretation of ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’: the version included here isn’t actually part of the studio sessions, but is a live recording from back in 1999… but it fits beautifully into the overall feel of the album and shows how easily a classic song can be re-imagined yet still retain its basic essence…


All in all, ‘Party Of One’ helps to demonstrate Thorogood’s deep knowledge, and appreciation, of the blues and its many different forms. In these of over-production and all sorts of fancy sound enhancements, it’s great to hear an artist going to back to performing music the way it should be – naked (well, apart from a few overdubs) and honest. An essential purpose for all blues fans.


‘Party Of One’ is released tomorrow (Friday 4 August).


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