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GEORGE THOROGOOD AND THE DESTROYERS Bad To The Bone:25th Anniversary Edition Capitol/EMI (2007)

George Thorogood

The impact that George Thorogood & the Destroyers album 'Bad To The Bone' had back on the rock scene back in 1982 can't be underestimated. In an era in which style triumphed over content, and keyboards were a front line instrument, the notion of a back to the basics blues album, albeit tinged with a little rock & roll, seemed almost laughable. And it was in that context that George Thorogood took it all back to the source and stripped his r&b right down to the bone with a raspy voice, some fierce Elmore James influenced slide guitar and an unlikely return of the honking sax, so beloved in the 40's and 50's. Three years after this album was released, George teamed up with the late Albert Collins on 'Live Aid' in front of a world wide audience, and it seemed the rocking blues had returned big time.

In fact 'Bad To The Bone' came out about five years before the second blues boom hit the UK in 1990, but it worked admirably as an exemplar of what could be achieved by ditching the big production values and video culture (though he was championed by MTV at the time) and going back to what counts most the most, the music. That said, George Throrogood's minimalism while being his strength was also his weakness.

So while he was always happiest on up tempo rockers like 'Back to Wentzville', his limitations were often disguised by scintillating guitar lines and rasping sax as on the crossover rock and roll appeal of 'Nobody But Me'. The slower ballads such as 'It's A Sin' only really work as a link piece between the previous rocker and a cover of 'New Boogie Chillun' which was perfectly suited to George's use of tension building dynamics. But even here the title track is carried by some characteristic slide runs.

Momentarily putting aside the album's impact generating sparse style, you sometimes wince at the poor vocal phrasing as on Albert King's 'As The Years Go Passing By' which also finishes with a horrible fade out. Then as if to redress the balance, he whips up a storm with Chuck Berry's 'No Particular Place To Go'- the bonus track of which is much stronger with a far more powerful production, and better vocals. The same can be said of the bonus title track with its big drum sound, and George's slightly mellowed vocal style.

In sum, Thorogood's frisson just about carries the day, with 17 tracks both old and newly re-recorded contributing to an essential retro party album delivered by an uncompromising artists who justifiably earned himself a little bit of history 25 years ago!


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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