George Thorogood and the Destroyers
There are so few rockers that hail from Delaware, and that makes both Tom Verlaine (Television) and George Thorogood special.I haven’t heard anything from Verlaine in years but the fine folks at Rounder have re-released George’s first two albums,so let’s check out these blues. Delaware’s not the blues hot-spot that Texas or Mississippi is, but Thorogood put the place on the map with this self-titled disc. He’s got a rough and ready voice, a rocking guitar style, and a rock solid backup on drums (Jeff Simon) and bass (Billy Blough).
“You Got to Lose” gets your attention as soon as you drop that virtual needle. It’s a straight-ahead 12-bar blues about being broke and half way in love — she may be the girl for him but his chances of finding, nevermind holding a job remain slim. On to “Madison Blues” where a long instrumental lead in establishes Thorogood’s guitar prowess; there’s his whiskey and cigs voice sailing over the prefab misery of something going wrong again and life ain’t getting better.
Now we’ve arrived at the kingpost of post-civil rights bluesmanship, the fabled “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” The theme is still no job and a fading woman, but this song is built like a bunker and over eight minutes long. In the first part of the song, George bemoans owing rent and his rocky relationship with his landlady; here the song takes its time setting up the premise and gently delivers the punch line. There’s no hurry, the singer has nowhere to go and nothing to do and neither should you. In the back half of this epic he ends up in a bar, drinking till last call, and then off to homelessness and oblivion. Think of this song when you see some guy with a cardboard sign on the off ramp. After “One Bourbon… ” there’s tracks 11 left and Thorogood retreats to some traditional number including a syrup-slow “Kind Hearted Woman,” the rock-a-billy romp of “Ride on Josephine,” and the harmonica-based “John Hardy.” All are worthwhile, and while Thorogood has done great things, he’s never topped this effort. It’s the king pin in his catalog, and I rank this a Must-Have for the serious Modern Blues fan.