George Thorogood boogies down alone on his aptly-named debut solo album Party of One. (Album cover crop)

Street Sounds: Blues revivalism

Veteran blues rocker George Thorogood’s first solo album is just that — him without a band

Veteran blues rocker George Thorogood’s first solo album is just that — him without a band.

Thorogood (otherwise known as the Delaware Destroyer) boogies down alone on the aptly-named Party of One. His patented lively barroom music loses none of its intensity here and the recording offers a clear look at Thorogood’s heritage.

Thorogood should be credited for being a revivalist and a successful one in an era when blues styles were old news: the punk/new wave era of the mid to late ’70s. He had hits, though it has been awhile since. He made a reputation being the ultimate party rocker, armed with a hollow body Gibson, a loud amp and his band, The Destroyers. Perhaps like a low rent Johnny Winter bringing the bare essentials.

For a guy who hasn’t had a hit in 30 years, he sounds sharp. His cover of Robert Johnson’s I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man is an unaccompanied electric romp, all rhythmic grit and tranced-out riffage. As Johnson’s songs are the gold standard of traditional blues performances, Thorogood is dialed right in. He brings vibe, and his affinity for these primal songs is real.

He creates an urgency to John Lee Hooker’s classic Boogie Chillen that the old master would approve of. He gets the country/blues interface. The reworking of Bad News (Johnny Cash) and the Rolling Stones gem, No Expectations are studies in humour and sensitivity, executed with drive and finesse.

It’s these sounds that demonstrate why Thorogood has had a 40 year plus career. He knows his niche as surely as he knows the lyrics to One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer. The guy likes to rock and roll with emphasis on the roll.

He knows to bring old time electric noise to a room and there’s something uncomplicated and fresh in that.

–Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.