George Thorogood & The Destroyers – Live At Rockpalast – Dortmund 1980
Disc 1 – 7 tracks 41 minutes
Disc 2 – 8 tracks 44 minutes
If you want to feel like you went on a rock and roll merry-go-round at 100 mph, then pop in Live At Rockpalast – Dortmund 1980 by George Thorogood & The Destroyers. It’s a live double disc recorded on Nov. 26, 1980 at Westfalenhalle in Germany, and is part of the Rockpalast series. It also includes a DVD of the concert. Thorogood’s blues-rock guitar shoots off like a rocket and he gives this European audience a heavy dose of Chuck Berry, Elmore James and Bo Diddley. This album is before “Bad To The Bone,” so you won’t hear that famous crossover hit, but you still get favorites like “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” “Who Do You Love,” and “I’m Wanted.” Joining Thorogood are his longtime band members, and current Destroyers, Bill Blough (bass) and Jeff Simon (drums) along with his former sax man Hank “Hurricane” Carter. The band gets a rollicking sound and they are a steady launch pad for Thorogood to blast off with his furious guitar work.
The 29-year-old Thorogood is at the top of his game on this live gem. He hits the gas and never lets up. His guitar is like another member of the band, it’s loud, in your face, and undeniable. He takes his cues from his blues and rock and roll forebears and slaps on a custom flame paint job to those classic sounds. Live At Rockpalast is also a great reminder that the Black Keys and the White Stripes had a fellow riff master decades prior when George Thorogood & The Destroyers busted out of Delaware. “Hurricane” Carter honks out some dripping fat saxophone and accompanies Thorogood’s voice and guitar very nicely.
Live At Rockpalast goes from zero to 60 in no time with the opening track, “House Of Blue Lights,” the Chuck Berry classic. “I’m Wanted” has some nice breaks and is as steady as they come. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” is as lively and interesting as the studio version. It’s a ten-minute romp of hard luck and booze, and Thorogood plays it flawlessly. The second disc features some great slide work and features a nice routine of Elmore James including “Goodbye Baby (Can’t Say Goodbye)” and “New Hawaiian Boogie.” Another song Thorogood is well known for covering is “Who Do You Love,” and he plays this Bo Diddley standard with all the attitude of a rattlesnake on a bad day.
Thorogood stays faithful to his blues and rock blueprint, and doesn’t stray much from that trusted formula. Live At Rockpalast has a nice mix of early rock and roll, blues and a little rockabilly, but if you’re more of a casual listener, be prepared to get a steady attack of his unmistakable riffs. The vocal mix is a little anemic on the “House Of Blue Lights,” but the quality of the recording does get better toward the end of the album.
The DVD is another great artifact of this 37-year-old show. The CDs take you there, but the DVD puts you right in the seats. You see the toothy Thorogood strut all of the stage while his steady sidemen stand like traffic lights stuck on green. Lazy smoke roams above the audience while they dig on this American dynamo. One interesting part is when Thorogood implores the audience to increase their participation and dance a lot more. He then kicks off “Cocaine Blues,” maybe not the best dance song, and those young Europeans, bless their hearts, move around like bouncing marbles in a spray can. They may not have rhythm, and their fashion sense is thankfully obsolete, but they had tons of fun and we get to enjoy it right along with them.
This is a great example of what Thorogood was like before he burst on the scene, and before the MTV extended airplay of “Bad To The Bone.” He may not have fit in with the blues purist, but his music is fun nonetheless. He owes a great deal to the past greats like Chuck Berry and Elmore James, and this album is a nice valentine to rock and roll’s heyday. Go down this 90-minute journey with George Thorogood & The Destroyers and you won’t regret it