“Party of one” is the first ever solo album from George Thorogood which is surprising for a man who released his first album way back in 1977 and has been releasing albums regularly ever since. Best known for the classic hit song “Bad to the bone”, for this album he’s decided to record a selection of cover versions instead of his own material. He’s releasing this album through Rounder records – his first record label, in conjunction with Spinefarm records in the UK.
There’s a definite Blues bias in the artists covered which includes Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Willie Dixon. It’s not all blues though – he also covers Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and The Rolling Stones.
Although he originally started as a solo artist, all his albums have been made with a band, so after several decades of playing with a band, it’s a big change for him to record solo. The results though are excellent. There’s a stripped down sound to the songs as you’d expect – mainly just guitar and vocals but also some harmonica.
He could have made things easy by picking songs that are well known, but the average person probably won’t know many (if any) of the songs he’s chosen for the album. While that means it lacks the familiarity better known songs would have given, the flipside is that because people don’t know the songs then he’s free to perform them how he wants even if that differs from the originals.
The songs are all fairly short meaning the 14 tracks last around 43 minutes in total – an average of 3 minutes or so per song. That short length for the songs works very well as the songs are stripped down to the essentials – no unncessary solos to pad things out or lose the pace. It means the songs all have plenty of impact, and also means he’s able to pack a load more songs into the album than he could if they were 5 or 6 minutes long.
Some songs are performed on acoustic guitar, others on electric guitar, and when you look at the pace of the songs they range from slow to much faster paced songs. Throw in things like the harmonica and it means you get plenty of variation between songs to keep interest levels high – something that many performers with just guitar and vocals don’t manage.
His guitar playing is excellent and I love the vocals too. It just shows that even after 16 albums, over 8000 live shows and lots of hits, George Thorogood is still capable of surprising us by doing something different. A fantastic album that I’d recommend to anyone who loves the Blues.
1. I’m a steady rollin’ man
2. Soft spot
3. Tallahassee women
4. Wang dang doodle
5. Boogie chillen
6. No expectations
7. Bad news
8. Down the highway
9. Got to move
10. Born with the blues
11. The sky is crying
12. The hookers (if you miss ‘im..I got ‘Im’)
13. Pictures from life’s other side
14. One bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer