George Thorogood – George Thorogood and the Destroyers; Move It On Over (1978-79; 2013 reissue)

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George Thorogood’s rough-hewn sound has become so ubiquitous — from classic-rock stations to an endless parade of movie soundtracks — that it’s difficult to remember just how nervy these two albums once sounded.

Arriving in a period of excess on both sides of popular music, be that disco or punk, Thorogood’s self-titled debut for Rounder and its 1979 follow up effort — seeing a belated reissue on July 30, 2013 — seemed to storm in from an entirely different place. These Delaware bloozers’ frame of reference was neither the Brothers Gibb or the Snot-Nosed Rotten. It was Elmore James, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, but with a serrated, road-house edge.

Thorogood covers Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” on the former, with James’ “The Sky is Crying” and Berry’s “It Wasn’t Me” finding a home on the latter. In between, there are souped-up takes on Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love,” Earl Hooker’s “You Got To Lose”, and Brownie McGhee’s “So Much Trouble,” among others.

In fact, there were only three originals on And the Destroyers, and none on Move It On Over, but that took little away from the gut-punch impact both projects had. There just wasn’t much that had the same visceral feel in the turn-of-the-1980s era’s landscape of over-decorated, all-attitude music. This stuff went down with all the stinging clarity of a shot of cheap whiskey — though its popularity, in retrospect, probably has more to do with what else was on the radio at the time.

The Destroyers would go on to score five gold albums between 1980-88, while pile driving this basic success story into dust. Thorogood’s 1982 by-the-numbers smash “Bad to the Bone,” which only mimicked the snarling power of these sides rather than building upon them, could be found in movies (“Terminator 2” and “Problem Child, among them”), TV shows like “Married … With Children” (where it was recurring theme) and countless commercials.

But Thorogood never improved upon the muscular bar-band boogie that powers these two long-out-of-print albums — even if he went on to become a lot more successful.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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