Monday, July 18, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: GEORGE THOROGOOD - 2120 SOUTH MICHIGAN AVE.
If you're going to do a blues tribute, and not do one about either Robert Johnson or Stevie Ray Vaughn, the usual suspects, Chess Records would and should be the place to honour. How entire generations have no idea who Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf are is beyond me, and why we have to constantly remind people about the legacy of Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, yet Eric Clapton remains "god" is even more a mystery. Even to Clapton. So, hats off to Thorogood.
Now, George may have hit on part of the problem himself. In one of two tribute numbers he co-wrote for this set, during his name check of blues greats, he jokingly throws in "Jake and Elwood". Crap, we're still getting our blues history from Dan Aykroyd, from the deltas of the Ottawa River? Thorogood also sings about how South Michigan Ave. had Cadillacs lined up on the block. Umm, they certainly didn't belong to the musicians. Except for perhaps the notorious Berry, none got the money or status they deserved.
We can't blame Thorogood for that, and he does his best to drum up new interest in the likes of Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Willie Dixon. When he lets his raunchy, revved-up guitar do the talking, that's the best, and Thorogood really does have his own sound. But somehow he sounds too cartoon-like on this disc. He's always had a bit of an act going, larger than life, a cheerleader and an eager kid. Although he's covered Chess numbers often in his career, faced with a whole album's worth, the total toughness of these original artists makes him seem pale by comparison, if you get my drift.