Album review: GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DESTROYERS– Live At Montreux 2013

Eagle Rock[Release date 18.11.13]

Having paid his dues through relentless road work – including a 50 states in 50 nights tour – and his self titled debut album in 1976 – George Throrogood made his major label breakthrough on Capital in 1981.  For the next 4 years leading into his appearance at Live Aid with Albert Collins, he cut a swathe through oversized egos and lofty pretension of the rock industry with a back to basics approach that was a breath of fresh air. Over a quarter of a century later, he’s still locked into his minimalist approach which serves him well, even if as on this album it’s a shade predictable.

Thorogood cut his teeth on blues standards by Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley, and much like the J. Geils Band before him, he’s recycled the blues boogie and r&b triumvirate, cranked up the volume and hit the road with a handful of copper on wire slide slashes and plenty of distortion on his tone.

GT can probably attribute his career longevity to the connection between his success on the fledgling MTV to the retrospective nature of Classic Rock radio in the States. And somewhere in the middle is George who on the evidence of this record continues to do what he always did, barely wavering from his bar room boogie style.

All well and good and in the early days it worked brilliantly as his mix of powerhouse rocking blew away the cobwebs of a tired industry. Years later his ‘Bad To The Bone’ style sounds a little jaded on ‘Live At Montreux 2013’ , until he pulls things out of the fire at the end. Yes his band nails down the grooves and he apparently throws down a marker with the opening ‘Rock Party’. But the croaky voice sounds very one dimensional and it isn’t until Jim Suhler adds the first of several solos of the night on ‘Help Me’ – George preferring to take a back seat – that things start to spark, as evidenced by the audience reaction.

Of course after all this time George is well positioned to carry the torch as an interpreter of the blues. Certainly he’s the man to propagate the more celebratory, good-time aspects of the genre and he does so from ‘Rock Party’ onwards, as Buddy Leach adds some potent sax on Diddley ‘Who Do You Love?’ Its one of a number of songs that George has made his own down the years, while the bad ass boogie of Hooker’s ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ is well suited to his down to the wire style.

He racks up the tension with a deliberately stuttered throaty rap onwards, until he explodes on to the track with some hypnotic boogie guitar. He goes all country on the Johnny Cash dedication ‘Cocaine Blues’, gets down low and dirty on his signature riff of ‘Bad To The Bone’ and slides all over a raspy cover of Hank Williams ‘Move It On Over’ .

He’s relentless to the end, holding back his slide solo to the climax of Elmore’s ‘Madison Blues’, another song that he made his own.

If you’ve not somehow managed to tune into George Thorogood before, this is a basic reprise of what he’s all about, all high octane blues and boogie covers delivered with a throaty rasp and topped by slide guitar. However, if you are already a fan this is strictly old wine in new bottles and not essential. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra


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