George Thorogood: Dirty Talk
Originally published in Guitar World, Holiday 2009
Blues-rocker George Thorogood talks about his influences, hits and
slide style, and delivers the lowdown on his bandʼs latest album, The Dirty Dozen.
"Like any other band, we’re just trying to get new and exciting material in the show so we can keep going as long as we can,” says guitarist, singer and Blues Hall of Fame inductee George Thorogood. He’s referring to the songs on his band’s latest offering, The Dirty Dozen (Capitol/EMI). The album features the blues-rocker’s trademark poignantly gruff, muscular vocals and guitar playing on six new studio recordings and rereleases of six fan favorites, including three rare tracks that were previously out of print in the U.S. The record also marks his return to Capitol/EMI, where he found his greatest success in 1982 with the album Bad to the Bone.
In addition to being offered on CD and as a digital download, The Dirty Dozen is available on vinyl exclusively from georgethorogood.com and at the band’s live shows. Thorogood says, “I’m a big fan of vinyl, and it was important to me personally to make this album available in that format to those who want it. When we were sequencing the track list, I thought it would be fun to group the songs like you would for an LP, with the new recordings on side one and the rereleased tracks on side two.”
Renowned as “the world’s greatest bar band,” George Thorogood and the Destroyers have enjoyed great commercial success for more than 30 years. Since releasing its self-titled debut album in 1977, the band has become a powerful force on the blues-rock scene, having toured and performed with many of the blues world’s most legendary artists, including Hound Dog Taylor, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Albert Collins and Buddy Guy. Thorogood and his group have earned legions of fans across the globe and continue to be a big draw on the blues-rock touring circuit thanks in great part to their many enduring FM rock radio hits from the late Seventies and early Eighties. Those include souped-up covers of Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” and Hank Williams Sr.’s “Move It on Over,” as well as Thorogood’s own composition “I Drink Alone” and his signature song, “Bad to the Bone.”
Most of the tunes Thorogood covers on The Dirty Dozen were originally penned by a who’s-who of American blues legends, including Diddley, Muddy Waters, “Sleepy” John Estes, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon. Thorogood says, “The tune that everybody seems to be making a big fuss over is ‘Tail Dragger,’ which was written by Willie Dixon and covered previously by Howlin’ Wolf.” Also featured on the album are Wolf’s “Howlin’ for My Baby” and “Highway 49,” which feature Thorogood’s signature scorching slide playing in open G tuning (low to high, D G D G B D). The guitarist adds, “There’s also a kind of rock and roll version of ‘Six Days on the Road’ [an early Sixties radio hit that has since become a popular trucker theme song], which has been covered by everybody. I just figured I’d throw my hat into the ring, as it were, and add some slide guitar to it.”
GUITAR WORLD You seem pretty pumped about the new record.
GEORGE THOROGOOD It feels like a homecoming for me to be back with Capitol/EMI. This album is a real rocker, full of songs we’ve always loved playing live, including some that our fans have told us they like a lot but haven’t been available for a while. We’re definitely going to be playing some of these songs on tour. I’m ready to mix it up and crank it up.