'Bad to the Bone': Beyond George Thorogood's Hit Song
Courtesy Ultimate Classic Rock
For most people, the first thing that comes to mind about George Thorogood & the Destroyers is "Bad to the Bone." The song. But not the album of the same name.
Thorogood's iconic hit, part of enough movie and TV soundtracks to buy him much more than one bourbon, scotch or beer, serves as the title track for the band's fifth album and the first for a major label, EMI, after a tenure with the independent Rounder Records. The 10-song set caught Thorogood and his group in high flight, too, hot off dates opening for the Rolling Stones and the Freeze-Frame-hot J. Geils Band. The band had been in front of a lot of eyeballs and eardrums, and the moment to capitalize had arrived.
"It was a big deal — a bigger deal, at least," Thorogood, who rerecorded seven of Bad to the Bone's tracks for a 2007 reissue, told this writer a few years later. "It was a bigger record company and they were ready to put some money behind us and get the records in the stores and push it. ... I don't know if we felt pressure. We just went in and did what we do. It'd be stupid to try to be anything else."
That philosophy served Bad to the Bone well. The album reached No. 43 on the Billboard 200, went gold and spawned Thorogood's first two Top 40 Mainstream Rock chart hits: his version of the Isley Brothers' "Nobody but Me" (later a Top 10 garage-rock hit for the Human Beinz), which climbed to No. 32, and the title track, which reached No. 27.
"Bad to the Bone" has gotten and continues to get its due. But what about the rest of the Bad to the Bone album? It's certainly a record that can be held up as one of the Destroyers' best, and a case can be made that it's the best. To prove it, we steer you to these half-dozen additional tracks that put some extra meat on the Bone beyond its celebrated title song.
"Back to Wentzville"
"Back to Wentzville" is a Chuck Berry-styled rocker with onetime Rolling Stone Ian Stewart pounding piano in the background and Hank Carter unleashing a ferocious saxophone solo. The first of Thorogood's three originals is a bar-band template that gives your speakers, or earbuds, an aerobic workout.
Read More: 'Bad to the Bone': Beyond George Thorogood's Hit Song
TVD Live Shots: George Thorogood & the Destroyers at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 7/29
Courtesy TheVinyl District
George Thorogood is a bit of a mythical figure to me. Growing up in the midwest of the US, I was eight years old when I first saw the video for “Bad to the Bone.” Here’s this regular-looking dude walking into a pool hall with a guitar case that, instead of a Gibson, had a pool cue in it. He would go on to hustle the legendary bluesman Bo Diddley (I had no idea who he was at that time). I thought it was a bit strange for a storyline for a music video, but there was no denying that this guy was a bad motherfucker when it came to playing the blues. Is he a shredder like SRV or Hendrix? No. He’s got style, he’s got finesse, and most importantly, he’s got attitude.
Fast forward 40 years (Jesus, I’m getting old), and I get my first chance to see him live, and he brought the Destroyers. Celebrating 45 years of rock, the show that had been postponed several times finally arrived at London’s famed Shepherd’s Bush Empire. George came out on stage, immediately walked up to the front, and gave all the photographers in the pit a chance at an epic shot—then he went straight for the crowd. I’ve never seen anyone have such a good time playing the blues. He made the sold-out, packed to the gills theatre feel like the roadhouse saloon somewhere outside of Philadelphia. He was cracking jokes, chatting directly with the crowd, telling stories, and making quips; it was as if George knew the crowd intimately.
And I’m here to tell you, George didn’t miss a beat. His personality and that character I saw in the “Bad to the Bone” video is authentic; that’s just how he is. Even the security guy told me he was making jokes and telling stories to the staff during soundcheck. You can clearly see in the photos that George was on fire, and the Destroyers were tight as can be with original band members Billy Blough and Jeff Simon holding down the groove. For me, this puts a show over the top, seeing someone who’s been doing it for this long and still looks like they are having the time of their life.
The setlist may have seemed a bit short, but each song took on a life of its own with the banter and the mesmerizing riffs and solos. All the classics were there, “Who Do You Love,” “I Drink Alone,” “Move it on Over,” and “Get a Haircut.” But the true standouts of the night were a blistering version of “Gear Jammer,” an extended jam of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” which had the audience losing their minds, and of course, “Bad to the Bone.” This one took me back to that eight-year-old kid who wanted to be like George. I can 100% confirm that he’s still as cool as ever, and he can still mesmerize.
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AUGUST 2022 BOOGIE PEOPLE FAN OF THE MONTH
Congratulations to the Boogie People Fan of the Month for August 2022 Ed G! Learn more about Ed below!
Where are you from?: From Westminster, MA but living in Bradenton, FL for 22 years
How many years have you been a fan?: Since watched him open for the Stones on HBO back in 1981
What is your favorite George Thorogood song: Gear Jammer
How many times have you seen George Thorogood live? Not sure how many, been seeing George whenever I can since first time at Worcester Centrum in Mass after bought the new Maverick album, think it was 1985? Fave show might be one from early 90's in Pompano Beach, FL where he had Little Feat on the bill.
What’s one thing that sets you apart from other George Thorogood fans?: Back in 85 & 86 I tended bar at the Rathskellar in Coral Gables FL while going to school there, and every night that I worked I ran up to the DJ booth when we closed to spin the vinyl "Move it on Over" album while we all cleaned up, had a few more beers, sometimes a few more than a few.
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