Tag Archive: George Thorogood & the Destroyers


For the week of 5/27/2013…

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers

As I worked outside in 90-degree heat this week, George Thorogood’s version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” revealed itself to be excellent hot-weather music.  Thorogood takes John Lee Hooker’s song and expands it past the eight-minute mark by combining it with a yarn about trying to get away with neither paying his rent nor making any substantive attempt to do so.  It adds a lot more meat to a song that was kind of threadbare in terms of lyrical content, event though very little actually happens in the story.  It’s a neat trick that similarly elevates other songs like “Stagger Lee” (for example, listen to one of Mississippi John Hurt’s versions).

As Mike can attest, Thorogood’s version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” did not disappoint when we saw him live in Montclair over spring break.

Below I write about six of the albums I bought from the bargain bin at the Princeton Record Exchange during spring break.  I also bought a seventh CD, an underwhelming and ultimately uninteresting live album recorded by a country-rock bar band of little note, Kings in Disguise, in the 1990s; released on an obscure local label, it documents a performance of theirs at a Long Valley, NJ, café.  In my opinion, it’s not worth writing about any more than I have already, so instead I’ll just proceed to my roundup of the other six records.

Artist:  The Pixies
Album:  Doolittle (1989)
Notes:  Like so many kids who have gotten into Nirvana over the years, I took a little time in high school to investigate Kurt Cobain’s own favorite bands and albums.  One of the latter, obviously, was the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa; it was too inaccessible for me, at least at the time, and I became disinterested in the influential Boston band.  This is unfortunate because it took me a long time to actually give a chance to the more accessible but utterly terrific Doolittle, their second album and their major-label debut.  After finding a $2 copy of Doolittle in the bargain bin, I think I’m ready to try Surfer Rosa again (and get into their later discography as well).  But first I’m playing the shit out of this record:  If it weren’t for the excellent new music being released this week (Wavves’ Afraid of Heights, Wire’s Change Becomes Us, and especially the StrokesComedown Machine), Doolittle might have been the only thing I’d have listened to.  Front to back, “Debaser” to “Gouge Away,” it kicks ass.  A five-star classic.
Sample song:  “Debaser”

Artist:  Green on Red
Album:  This Time Around (1989)
Notes:  Green on Red were a band in 1980s Los Angeles affiliated with two significant underground scenes during that time, initially the psychedelia-influenced so-called “Paisley Underground” and then the Gun Club- and Cramps-led “cow punk” scene.  By 1989, the band was reduced to a core duo of singer Dan Stuart and guitarist Chuck Prophet.  With their career on the wane, Green on Red recorded a mostly pretty subdued album called This Time Around, which featured a reprise of Stuart’s signature “drunken-loser schtick,” as AllMusic put it.  Listening to it even without having heard much of the band’s previous work, I found that This Time Around does feel kind of formulaic and uninspired.  It definitely isn’t the work of a band in its prime.
Sample song:  “You Couldn’t Get Arrested”

Artist:  George Thorogood & the Destroyers
Album:  Thorogood Live (1986)
Notes:  Mike and I saw George Thorogood & the Destroyers live in Montclair the day before we went to Princeton, and it was a pretty great experience.  Thorogood’s combination of old-school Chuck Berry-style rock ‘n’ roll with over-the-top ’80s cheesiness made for an entertaining spectacle.  “Ladies and gentlemen, the rock ‘n’ roll heavyweight champions of the world!” a prerecorded announcement blared as screens on the back of the stage depicted a mushroom cloud.  “How sweet it is!” Thorogood roared as he strode onto the stage and began playing his first song.  This live album captures the general experience of seeing him live fairly well; it’s a recording of a Cincinnati gig in 1986, when Thorogood was at the height of his powers, and the set-list hasn’t changed all that much in 27 years.  Unfortunately, the differences that do exist actually make Live a flawed album.  In particular, after the great one-two punch of “I Drink Alone” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” that ends the first half of the record, Thorogood performs a ghastly, fairly cringeworthy cover of “Alley Oop.”  It deflates the album’s energy in a big way, and the next track, the fast “Madison Blues,” feels underwhelming as a result.  Live regains its mojo with the arrival of a pretty good rendition of “Bad to the Bone” and an epic cover of “The Sky Is Crying,” and ultimately benefits from a big dose of classic Thorogood ridiculousness:  “I got to know, do you have any ob-scenity laws in this part of town?  That’s good, ’cause I feel like getting dirty tonight.  I’m tired of singing all these pretty songs.  Me and the fellas feel like gettin’ dirty one time!”  And with that he launches into an innuendo-laden cover of Berry’s “Reelin’ and Rockin’.”  Not a bad CD at all to have in my collection.
Sample song:  “I Drink Alone” (yeah, this is the studio version, but whatever)

Artist:  The Datsuns
Album:  The Datsuns (2002)
Notes:  A band from New Zealand riding the Strokes/Hives/White Stripes wave to popularity in the early 2000s, the Datsuns actually played a style of rock distinct from those bands’, taking their cues largely from ’70s hard rock.  The problem is that they’re not very good at it, and that, while they incorporate most or all of the cliches of the genre, the end result is not particularly memorable or fun or listenable.  A lot of reviewers loved it in 2002 (although some ruthlessly trashed it), but just hearing an older style of rock resuscitated shouldn’t be enough to get people excited.  There need to be better songs and less unfocused messes of Brian Johnson-style yowling and dubious soloing.  The Datsuns fare better on tighter songs like “MF from Hell.”
Sample song:  “At Your Touch”

Artist:  British Sea Power
Album:  The Decline of British Sea Power (2003)
Notes:  A much better album from the early-2000s “return to rock” era is the amusingly titled debut by English indie band British Sea Power, The Decline of British Sea Power.  It’s a long album (run-time of about 57 minutes) and in some ways a difficult one, and so far I’ve only listened all the way through once.  Mike observed that their sound reminds him of Modest Mouse’s deep cuts; I don’t listen to Modest Mouse, so I can neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the comparison.  What I can confirm is the quality of this record, which apparently generated enough momentum to propel British Sea Power to make five more well-received albums over a decade (the newest is to be released next week, incidentally).
Sample song:  “Fear of Drowning”

Artist:  Jethro Tull
Album:  Thick as a Brick (1972)
Notes:  Heh, as if you need me to inform you about Thick as a Brick.  Needless to say, it was pretty cool to find a copy for only $2.  Anyway, obviously the whole album consists of one long track, but fuck it, I’ll post it anyway.