George Thorogood And The Destroyers – Live In Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert – Craft Recordings CR00282 4-LP stereo vinyl set, ****1/2:
(George Thorogood – guitar, vocals; Jeff Simon – drums, percussion; Billy Blough – bass; Hank Carter – saxophone)
George Thorogood is an authentic purveyor of blues-based rock. His inimitable style of ‘boogie-blues” is a modern take on this genre. A proud Delaware native, Thorogood became a local sensation with his band, The Delaware Destroyers (eventually shortened to The Destroyers). The group became popular in the 1980’s, most notably for high-energy covers like “Move It One Over” (Hank Williams), “Who Do You Love?” (Bo Diddley) and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” (a blues standard popularized by John Lee Hooker). Unlike many rock musicians who used blues as a starting point, Thorogood became a modern day standard-bearer. The Destroyers achieved mainstream success as an opening act for The Rolling Stones in 1981. The following year, they signed with Rounder Records and released their anthem, “Bad To The Bone” (from the album of the same name). But what has kept George Thorogood relevant for forty years is relentless touring and ferocious performances. In the career-defining 1981, they played 50 dates in 50 different states, creating a unmatched legacy. There are plans for another tour in 2021.
Craft Recordings has released a 4-vinyl set (which includes 12 additional tracks) of an 1980’s performance (originally on Rounder Records). George Thorogood And The Destroyers – Live In Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert is what you would expect of this band, and then some. In front of an enthusiastic “adopted” hometown of Boston (frequently name-checked from the stage), Thorogood performs a blistering, volume-intense collection of blues rock. Side A kicks off with “House Of Blue Lights”, a high-octane straight-up rock and roll number that showcases the raw energy of Thorogood’s electric guitar and a raucous saxophone (Hank Carter). References to “cats”, “cut a rug” and “dig that jive” aptly set a 50’s context. “Kids From Philly” have more “punched up” hooks and grooves” with an emphasis on r & b-infused chord progressions. The first trademark cover is “Who Do You Love?”. Rather than purely imitate Bo Diddley, The Destroyers initiate a breakneck tempo that explodes across the hall. It is dense, unrelenting and Thorogood’s muscular slide guitar brings a rock-audience accessibiiity to Chicago blues. With genre diversity, songs like Willie Dixon’s “I’m Wanted” and Red Arnall’s “Cocaine Blues” combine Jeff Simon’s propulsive drumming with sax/guitar dynamics. The trademark anti-establishment outlaw themes and narratives are highlighted. Thorogood adds humor and sultry atmosphere, but with fiery licks.
George Thorogood is a blues enthusiast and historian. On his extended cover of John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scorch, One Beer”, he distills the essence of talking blues into a rollicking boogie shuffle. His snarling vocals and anecdotal storytelling underscore a bluesman’s greatest ally…the bartender! There are funky breaks and compelling guitar/saxophone interchanges. Each song invokes blues familiarity (like the soulful “As The Years Go Passing By”). Moving briskly, Thorogood channels the unheralded King Of Rock And Roll, Chuck Berry on “It Wasn’t Me”. In a storming, note-bending assault, the timeless spirit can be found in the unique conversational phrasing. It’s as good as rock gets! A dose of heavier rock is found on “Bottom Of The Sea” and “Night Time”. The latter was introduced by The Strangeloves, but The Destroyers are clearly invoking Boston’s own J. Geils Band. Shifting back to John Lee Hooker, Thorogood tears into the ultimate electric blues opus, “New Boogie Chiilun’”. His explosive guitar solo is edgy and the band is extremely cohesive. He changes things up for Jimmy Reed’s Delta-country slow dance, “I’ll Change My Style”. The slide licks here elevate the jam.
Delving further into blues history, two seminal Elmore James tunes are performed. “Madison Blues” is done in an up tempo “jump” shuffle with blaring saxophone accents. “The Sky Is Crying” is translated in a painstakingly deliberate swoon. It contains the best slide licks on the album. But The Destroyers always come roaring back. “I Can’t Stop Lovin’” feels like Chuck Berry meets The Ramones. Cruising into the home stretch (Side F), Thorogood graces the crowd with his definitive opus, “Bad To The Bone”. He performs it with all of the attitude and blues largesse at his disposal. It is sandwiched between compositions by two iconic songwriters, Muddy Waters (“Same Thing”) and Hank Williams (“Move It On Over”). The hipness of Muddy and the honky-tonk recklessness of Williams fit in with the adrenalized instrumentation of this band. Eclectic covers of surf rock (“Wild Weekend”) and rock/soul (“Nobody But Me”) bring the house down. Fittingly, the last three songs (“No Particular Place To Go”, “Ride On Josephine” and “Reelin’ And Rockin’”) are homage to vintage rock and roll.
George Thorogood And The Destroyers – Live In Boston 1982: The Complete Concert may be among the greatest live rock recordings of all time!
Side A: House Of Blue Lights; Kids From Philly; Who Do You Love?
Side B: I’m Wanted; Cocaine Blues; One Way Ticket
Side C: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer; As The Years Go Passing By
Side D: It Wasn’t Me; Bottom Of The Sea; Night Time
Side E: New Boogie Chillun’; I’ll Change My Style; Miss Luann
Side F: Madison Blues; The Sky Is Crying; Can’t Stop Lovin’
Side G: Spoken Introduction: Audience Participation; Same Thing; Bad To The Bone; Move It On Over; Wild Weekend; Nobody But Me
Side H: No Particular Place To Go; Ride On Josephine; Reelin’ And Rockin’
More information at Craft Recordings website: