Okay, settle down fans—no, George hasn’t gone crazy but his new album Party of One is a departure for the legendary rock blues guitar hero.
Party of One is a dynamic exploration of roots music easily swinging between genres like rock, blues and Americana. This 2017 release is something special and Thorogood aficionados are in for a treat! So why did I mention opera? First, let’s look at how we got to this watershed album.
The first time I heard Thorogood, it was some time in 1982 and I had just discovered that my parents had been keeping a secret from me. Yes, my dad, a country music lover and my mom, a classical music enthusiast, forgot to tell their young blind son, yours truly, that there were in fact two knobs on the radio, the volume knob and the one that changed the channels. Shortly after this discovery I became a fan of rock music and other genres busily turning the dial to explore. I will never forget the first time I heard that mean guitar and those growling vocals singing “Bad to the Bone”. It was an epiphany for a young music lover and I followed George’s musical offerings forever more.
Thorogood does what all the great artists of any genre and any decade do–he finds songs that connect to him and shares that art with an adoring audience. Using a combination of his own powerful song writing ability, such as in “Bad to The Bone” in combination with choosing other songs from artists as diverse as John Lee Hooker, Hank Williams Sr. and The Rolling Stones, Thorogood serves up a signature sound that is loud and proud. His musical product is visceral with simple melodies and lyrics that everyone can relate to. I mean, who can’t say that at one time or another they didn’t want to be “bad to the bone” or had such a bad day, week or year that they needed “one scotch, one bourbon, and one beer”? It is this last song that Thorogood says was the moment at which he knew he had something special and truly believed that he and the Destroyers were on their way! Says Thorogood, “I know my audience and I don’t try to be anything except what I am. I am proud to be keeping the blues alive”. And it is truly alive when Thorogood steps up to the mic and straps on his trusty guitar. During our conversation, George showed me another side to his bad ass persona; that of a humble man that is grateful for his career and who was very friendly and candid. “I knew I wasn’t going to be Elvis but could be something special. When I was starting in music it seemed that the only legitimate options to be in the music business were to either be the Beatles or Frank Sinatra. I wasn’t either of those and had to find my way to something else. I wasn’t good at holding a regular job–really the only thing I could do was music.” In pressing Thorogood on this last point he revealed that he had the support of his parents, something still unusual for musicians of any era, and they trusted that their son would be as good as his word and make it in the music business. Which he certainly has–with six albums going gold meaning he has sold 500,000 units and two albums going platinum meaning 1,000,000 sold and over 15,000,000 albums consumed worldwide!
But like any truly great artist, it isn’t about the money. “We’re a dive bar band that is still working all these years later. Some nights, I look at the band and we all can’t believe we are so lucky to still be doing what we love. We always bring the house down with ‘Madison Blues’ and that is when it hits me.”
So, what is so unique about the new record Party of One? And how in the world did I get opera into the title of this expose’?
It’s elementary my dear Watson! The new album is George’s music stripped down in a way that is profound and different than anything else he has done in his long and illustrious career.
It isn’t fair to call Party of One solely an acoustic album or to use the overused moniker of unplugged. Rather, it is a personal invitation for you to come over to your good friend George’s house and listen to a master craftsman share with you the music he has been refining and transforming into an opus.
This record is warm, inviting and lots of fun. And while it is heavily reliant on the acoustic guitar and George’s unprocessed raw vocals, it isn’t just an acoustic album. Says George, “This album has been a long time coming and I have wanted to do something like this for a long time. Maybe it should have been my first recording, but this is the one acoustic album–going to be my one shot as an opera singer, then going back to the boogie.” And that, gentle readers, is how I got my title. Thorogood thinks of this record as a one- off and a moment where he plays most of the instruments himself and has his opportunity to share more of himself than usual with his fans. Party of One draws from many of Thorogood’s favorite song writers like The Rolling Stones and Hank Sr. “The first person I ever saw play slide guitar was Brian Jones, so I just had to do a Stones song,” he says.
As my time with George drew to a close, I had to ask him if he was enjoying making music more now than when he first started and what he thought about the ever-changing landscape of the music business. “I love playing music now more than ever because the pressure is off for me to get that first record deal, so I can focus on the music and not shopping my music around.”
Regarding the music business in general, Thorogood laments the advent of shows like “American Idol” and other programs of that type because he feels like it doesn’t really give artists a chance to discover who they are. It is a TV show first and about music second. I asked George for his final thoughts and if he had a message for his legions of fans and he said Party of One is an album for the fans–hope they buy 1,000,000 copies and it changes their life!”
So, there you have it. And all that is left is for you to cruise on over to your favorite music emporium and pick-up this remarkable album from a remarkable artist!