The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

2120 South Michigan Ave.



By Shane Pinnegar

George Thorogood and The Destroyers may be the world’s most successful bar room blues band, but they have also been extraordinarily successful at turning people on the music that came before them.


Across their large catalog of albums Thorogood has lovingly turned his big ole slide guitar and rough n’ ready tones to classics and hidden gems alike, from the likes of Chuck Berry, Howlin Wolf, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters and many other blues and rock n’ roll founding fathers.


This time round he has focussed solely on the Chess Records back catalog. Chess Studio was located at 2120 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, and in one of the two originals herein Thorogood sings of ‘Going Back’ to the Windy City, where it all began.


The songs which were written and recorded in Chess Studios form the apotheosis of the early pre-rock n’ roll blues scene and only Sun Studios out of Memphis could match Chess for early American blues based rock n’ roll.


There’s a scalding take on ‘Hi Heeled Sneakers’ (made famous by Tommy Tucker) which features blues guitar legend Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon’s ‘Seventh Son’ is given a barroom makeover, and Dixon is the subject of the only other original tune here ‘Willie Dixon’s Gone’.


There’s a couple of fillers – Bo Diddley’s eponymous number doesn’t capture the driving intensity of the original, and Dixon’s ‘Help Me’ is slightly plodding – but all up it’s great to hear these classics get the Thorogood treatment. The Destroyers are as tight as any band ever have been throughout proceedings and even the fillers here hold up under repeated listens.


To cap it all off Charlie Musselwhite steps in to blow his harmonica to great effect on ‘My Babe’ and The Rolling Stones’ own tribute to Chess – the instrumental ‘2120 South Michigan Ave’, helping to turn the latter into something with as much roll as rock, including a funky sounding Hammond organ reminiscent of Booker T & The MGs.


Rock n’ Blooze performed by a master!