Thorogood’s Career Jammer
George Thorogood & the Destroyers – The Dirty Dozen
July 28, 2009
Victim of Loudness War? No
George Thorogood and the Destroyers have always been about having fun with their music. Their sound is reminiscent of any bar band worth its salt and their best songs have always had plenty of hooks and sing-along moments to keep energy levels at their peak. This, partnered with Thorogood’s superb slide guitar playing, is no doubt what made them such an instant hit when they first appeared in 1977 and enabled them to maintain steady in-concert popularity through the present day.
The trouble with the group’s latest release, The Dirty Dozen, is that throughout the course of its twelve tracks, there never seems to be any reason for having released it. Granted, six of the tracks included here were previously released over the last three decades, but the other six tracks are newly recorded and presented for the first time on The Dirty Dozen. But all twelve of the tracks really serve no purpose as they add absolutely nothing to the band’s already vast catalog. These are twelve new blues covers, none of which match the quality or performance level of Thorogood and Co.’s previous successes.
That’s not to say that the band doesn’t competently perform the songs included on The Dirty Dozen. On the contrary, each song is technically proficient and up to Thorogood’s usual standard. The problem there, however, is that the songs come off sounding sterile, particularly for a collection with the word “dirty” stamped on its cover. The production of these recordings is far too clean to be deemed dirty, sounding safe rather than chock full of grit as the title would imply.
Take the album’s title track, a cover of Willie Dixon’s “Tail Dragger.” When Dixon recorded it, the guitars were as gritty as Dixon’s voice and the whole thing sounded beyond cool. Thorogood’s take, however, is spotless and removes any of the heart and soul the original track established for itself. This is the case with much of The Dirty Dozen, a sad statement considering Thorogood is the guy that brought listeners one of the baddest modern interpretations of original blues, his version of John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” It’s hard to believe that guy is the same guy represented here, even though the voice and guitar tone match.
The Dirty Dozen does have a few shining moments, however brief they might be. Thorogood’s guitar work on T. Bone Burnett’s “Highway 49” is truly inspired and the band really seems to be in high spirits on Wendell Holmes’ “Run Myself Out of Town.” But unfortunately for Thorogood, the album isn’t called The Dirty Couple and these two gems get crushed under the weight of the rest of the album’s failure. If only the other tracks on the album met the quality of these two, The Dirty Dozen might be more of a universal success.
It’s a shame that George Thorogood has released something this lackluster so late in his career. At a time when he could simply rely on touring and introduce these songs into the live setting where they would no doubt come off better, he has opted to tarnish his studio catalog with weak takes on otherwise classic material. The Dirty Dozen not only misses the mark on all counts, it succeeds in taking the wind out of the sails of the George Thorogood everyone has come to appreciate: the guy that’s bad to the bone, leanin’ up against a post and always drinkin’ alone.
– Ian Rice
To purchase George Thorogood & the Destroyers’ The Dirty Dozen, please click here.
And as with all negative reviews here at The Record Review, here’s a clip from when the artist shined:
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