George Thorogood is the unmistakable voice behind storytelling rock hits like Who Do You Love?, I Drink Alone, One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, Move It On Over, Get A Haircut, and the anthemic Bad To The Bone. So how does the famous rocker fair on a solo acoustic album featuring traditional and classic blues songs?
On the album Party Of One, Thorogood tackles songs by such artists as Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and John Lee Hooker. It’s an intimate and emotional moment captured for all to hear. Thorogood drops the backing band and jams on acoustic and electric guitars telling some famous tales like I’m A Steady Rollin’ Man and Wang Dang Doodle, but the highlights shine through in lesser known tracks like Gary Nicholson’s Soft Spot and Johnny Cash’s Bad News.
Thorogood is so good at Cash, I’d love to hear an entire album of Johnny’s tunes. He captures the energy and vibe of the song and performs it with more flair than the original. It actually benefits a lot more from the solo guitar than it does as a full ensemble like Cash recorded.
Thorogood tries hard to keep the record honest. He strips all of them to the barebones and they quickly become short stories of life, love and the blues. Elmore James’ The Sky Is Crying is a great example of this technique. The song has been covered by many, James himself had a shallow sounding band backing the singer in his recording, while Stevie Ray Vaughn kicked the backing music up a notch and surrounded it with stunning guitar work. Thorogood drops the entire background and the track sounds more like a Robert Johnson jam than an Elmore James tune. And that’s what I dig about this album – it’s Thorogood and a guitar. It can’t be any more honest than that and the more grounded the recording is, the better the overall vibe is.
Party Of One will never be a hit album. Most deep routed albums like this never top the charts, but it’s a collection of tunes that proves Thorogood is bad right down to the raw and bare bone. Blues fans will dig the classics and modern fans will appreciate the stripped down versions of the John Lee Hooker tracks, while long-time fans will absolutely love the raw emotion in the acoustic version of Thorogood’s hit One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer transferred from the original master recording of his 1999 performance on the Rockline radio show (the song is even dedicated to the memory of the show’s host Bob Coburn).
There’s a reason Thorogood has sold more than 15 million albums and Party Of One gives listeners a little peek into the man behind the best-selling rock masterworks.