The Dirty Dozen

George Thorogood & The Destroyers

Buying a George Thorogood & The Destroyers is almost like buying an AC/DC album. In both cases, you pretty much know what you’re in for. No surprises, nothing experimental — just pure and populist rock and roll. AC/DC pumps out their brand and Thorogood pumps out his. Except, of course, Thorogood doesn’t write that many songs (although he penned “Bad To The Bone,” his biggest hit). Mostly what he plays are variations of the same three chords. But then Thorogood & The Destroyers dig their mitts in, and whatever they’re playing becomes putty in their collective hands. Thirty years going, and it’s still the same on The Dirty Dozen, George Thorogood & The Destroyers’ first new album for Capitol Records in over a decade.

The Dirty Dozen isn’t exactly jam-packed with new and shiny tracks. The first six, comprising “Side One,” are recent studio recordings; the second six, however, comprising “Side Two: Fan Favorites,” are songs that have either been long out-of-print, or have never been released at all. When you talking about a band like George Thorogood & The Destroyers, it isn’t that simple to detect a disconnect from what they recorded this year and what they recorded 10 years ago. It’s probably going to all sound the same. Somehow, even with the break in momentum of the first six songs, that same familiar ring shines through and the songs maintain the pace.

It’s the newly recorded tunes that carry The Dirty Dozen. Willie Dixon’s “Tail Dragger” blows the doors wide open for everything else that follows. Thorogood & The Destroyers — drummer Jeff Simon, bassist Billy Blough, guitarist Jim Suhler and saxophonist Buddy Leach — shred through each cadence of the spunky blues number “Drop Down Mama” before breaking loose on “Run Myself Out Of Town” and “Born Lover.” Leach rips the reeds on the hip-shaking “Twenty Dollar Gig” before the band reassembles and gallops into town, singing “Let Me Pass.” Thorogood’s natural tendency to throw himself into each gut-wrenching note hasn’t lost its edge or its appeal.

On Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Howlin’ For My Baby,” previously unreleased in the U.S., the band doesn’t take long to sink its fangs into a flat-out boogie that burns rubber for over five minutes. Wolf’s “Highway 49” showcases Thorogood’s spidery slide work, a trademark untarnished by time or circumstance. Whether steadily mapping a sturdy country standard like “Six Days On The Road” or making everyone realize just how flexible a Chuck Berry riff is on “Hello Little Girl,” George Thorogood & The Destroyers can't fail in their earnest ability to lock in and lay it down. Old school rock and roll, without the pretense and posturing, even three decades later, is still alive and well as long as this band is around.

~ Shawn Perry

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