Blues Bytes


January 2011

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George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Bad To The Bone
EMI America

George Thorogood

In the early 1980s, the music world was dominated by MTV, slick synthesizers, bright-colored suits, hair teased to within an inch of its life, and matching makeup for males and females. Into this, shall we say, interesting environment strode a former baseball player-turned rocker……George Thorogood. Thorogood had already fronted his band, the Destroyers, for nearly a decade when MTV began playing the video of the title cut from their 1982 album, Bad To The Bone.

Compared to the rest of MTV’s steady rotation, Thorogood’s offering, which mixed live performance footage with scenes of Thorogood playing pool with rock ‘n’ roll legend Bo Diddley, stuck out like a Hawaiian shirt at a formal dinner. Thank goodness. The frequent play on the music channel exposed him to millions of youngsters who otherwise would have never heard his snarling vocals and his fiery slide guitar, and therefore might not have been introduced to his music, which owed a huge debt to blues artists like John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Elmore James and Bo Diddley.

Thorogood and the Destroyers had already released three discs on the Rounder label, and had built a following on FM radio and as a live act (even touring with the Rolling Stones) before signing with EMI America and releasing Bad To The Bone in 1982. The very best thing about signing with the major label was that Thorogood didn’t alter his musical approach one little bit, continuing to play his torrid brand of blues-based rock. Indeed, his enthusiasm was evident from the very beginning of the disc to the end.

The original Bad To The Bone release featured ten songs… diverse a set of songs as you’ll hear on a disc, ranging from manic versions of the Isley Brothers’ “Nobody But Me” and Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place To Go.” Thorogood also could slow things down effectively, too, with Nick Gravenites’ “Blue Highway,” Jimmy Reed’s “It’s A Sin,” and impressive interpretations of Bob Dylan’s “Wanted Man,” and the blues standard, “As The Years Go Passing By.”

Thorogood contributed several tracks to the new album, including the breakneck opener, “Back To Wentzville,” a song Chuck Berry should have recorded back in the day, and “Miss Luann,” an equally raucous rocker. But it’s the title track that brought the most attention and continues to be Thorogood’s biggest hit. It has appeared on countless movies, television shows, commercials, and sporting events. With “Bad To The Bone,” Thorogood took the best of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters and combined it into arguably one of the biggest rock songs of all time.

Thorogood and the Destroyers continued to release some outstanding recordings (including Maverick and Born To Be Bad), but nothing else quite measured up to Bad To The Bone, even the commemorative 25th Anniversary edition released in 2007. In addition to remastering the original LP, the new disc included a B-side instrumental (to the “Nobody But Me” single), “That Philly Thing.” While it was great to get that song on CD, the band also re-recorded six of the original tracks on Bad To The Bone, including the title track. All the new recordings did was prove that the original album was in a class by itself.

--- Graham Clarke


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