George Thorogood and the Destroyers | Live in Boston 1982 | (Rounder)
Four out of Five Stars
Videos by American Songwriter
Two years ago, at a press conference prior to his appearance at the Montreal Jazz Festival, George Thorogood made a startling confession. “I’m basically just a one riff guy,” he mentioned, and indeed, that statement is hard to dispute. Over the course of a career that’s now in its fifth decade, Thorogood has plied all the tricks of the trade when it comes to boogie, blues and rock and roll, never veering very far from the main motif and never attempting to push any parameters. Emulating such prime influences as Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Bo Diddley, he’s ensured that their primal rhythms and unfettered approach resonates through each of his efforts. Granted, it doesn’t allow for much variation from track to track, but that also makes the archival release of this double disc concert performance the only Thorogood album anyone will ever need.
Why is that? For one thing, it contains every essential cut Thorogood and company have ever recorded, a list that starts and ends with his signature songs, “Who Do You Love?,” “Bad to the Bone” and “Move It On Over.” All the other offerings find a similar sound by holding to that seminal style. For another, the band’s concert takes on these songs don’t significantly vary from the original studio versions, no surprise considering that the music was always intended translate to live performance. Any difference between the two is moot at best.
Consequently the new album is consumed with the brash, irreverent attitude that Thorogood and company are famous for. Naturally then, Thorogood’s introductions fill the gaps between songs with an appropriate amount of verbal verbosity. While certain offerings are obviously an excuse for Thorogood to show off his gruff vocal delivery and slide guitar style, all essential elements within in his musical mantra, his bluesy bluster still stands out, especially via an extended take on “The Sky Is Crying,” one of the more driving and determined songs in the set overall. It’s an excellent example of the band’s dedication to form, and an offering even a purist can appreciate.
Nevertheless, one can’t help but consider Thorogood more or less a caricature of his true self, an entertainer first and foremost that continues to play off the persona he established early on. “We’re gonna play all your favorites,” he promises the audience at one point. “Those are the only songs we know.” Indeed, that familiar opening riff that leads into “Bad to the Bone” is, in itself, a thorough lesson in the Thorogood approach when it comes to making the music his audience enthusiastically embraces. And when the band launch into a cover of the Human Beinz classic “Nobody But Me” or Chuck Berry’s relentless standard “No Particular Place To Go,” the bond remains unbroken.
We talked to George about the album that was released via Craft Recordings. Check out that interview.