GA-20 – GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It… You Might Like It! – Album Review

GA-20 – GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It…You Might Like It!

Colemine Records in partnership with Alligator Records

10 songs – 39 minutes

The reputations of some blues acts seem to be burnished by the passing of the years. Others, for a variety of reasons, may be respected or acknowledged but they do not inspire the awestruck terms of reference that are bestowed upon the likes of Muddy, Little Walter or Howlin’ Wolf.

One such act is the six-fingered slide guitarist Hound Dog Taylor and his band, the Houserockers. How good were they in their prime? Well, good enough for a young shipping clerk at Delmark Records, Bruce Iglauer, to set up his own record company specifically to record them back in 1971, and we all know what has happened to Alligator Records over the last 50 years.

The high energy GA-20 have been making some serious waves since they formed in Boston in 2018. Their 2019 debut album, Lonely Soul, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Blue Charts and highlighted their love of heavy traditional blues, R&B and rock’n’roll from the late 1950s and early 1960s. They are also the perfect band to produce a tribute album to Hound Dog Taylor, one of their prime inspirations. Like Taylor, GA-20 eschew the use of a bassist, instead creating a glorious racket through guitarist Matt Stubbs, guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty and drummer Tim Carman. Unapologetically raw and raucous, their music is muscular, infectious and dynamic and successfully treads that fine line between traditional and modern.

Taylor famously declared that “When I die they’ll say, ‘he couldn’t play shit, but he sure made it sound good!’” He was wrong about his technical musical abilities, of course. Very few people can play rough-edged, unvarnished Chicago blues like he could. Thankfully, this sort of unpolished, good-time music is absolutely in GA-20’s bailiwick. Recorded live in the studio in under two days, using vintage equipment to re-create Taylor’s sound, Try It…You Might Like It is a glorious, enchanting celebration of the spirit and vibe of Hound Dog Taylor.

All 10 songs are Hound Dog classics, kicking off with “She’s Gone” and moving through the likes of “Let’s Get Funky”, “Give Me Back My Wig” (with superb off-the-wall slide guitar from Faherty), “It Hurts Me Too”, “Sadie” and “Hawaiian Boogie.”  There is a visceral energy to the performances, even on the slower tracks such as “Sitting At Home Alone.”

Stubbs produced the album, with engineering by Matthew Girard and he has captured a wonderfully timeless quality to the songs.

Try It…You Might Like It is a superb release, an outstanding throwback to the harsh but irresistible intimacy of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers.  This is pretty much an essential purchase for any fan of classic Chicago blues.

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