HOUND DOG TAYLOR
Take Five, Hawaiian Boogie, See Me In The Evening, You Can't Sit Down, Sitting At Home Alone, One More Time, Roll Your Moneymaker, Buster's Boogie, Sadie, Talk To My Baby, Goodnight Boogie.
If you want smooth guitar lines, sinuous melodic runs and dreamy sensuous licks overlaid by sweet crooning vocals then don't go anywhere near a Hound Dog Taylor album because what you get is the glorious raw sound of a Chicago blues band tearing into their music, howlin' and growlin' and ripping off one glorious rasping lick after another over a slammed out a back beat that could shake the glass out of your windows! Sheer heaven!
In the seventies Hound Dog Taylor and The Houserockers were at the top of their game, wowing the crowds at Chicago's black blues clubs and driving white audiences into a frenzy on their regular tours across America.
The recipe was simple - Ted Harvey at the back propelling the backbeat on his minimalist Slingerland drumkit, Brewer Phillips in front to the left, using the top strings of his ancient Telecaster at full volume to pour out ever-changing bass lines and then, at centre stage perched on a folding chair, the formidable Hound Dog Taylor cranking out monstrous boogie speedballs, searing slide runs and piercingly distorted licks on an old Japanese guitar that had no right to produce such an exuberantly abrasive racket. Slicing through the wall of sound, Hound Dog's vocals were high and energised and sung with all the force of his hero from a decade earlier - Elmore James.
Although ‘Natural Boogie' is a studio album, Alligator has captured the sound of a highly electric live performance that shows that Hound Dog and the band were not inhibited one bit by the studio environment. Nothing could scare them - they just set up their equipment and let rip starting with a blistering reconstruction of their old 1960 single Take Five, then a blasted out version of Elmore's Hawaiian Boogie, their bopping re-hash of the hit You Can't Sit Down, a scorching run through of an Elmore James killer track Talk To My Baby, the smoulderingly intense Sadie and the anguished deep blues epic Sitting At Home Alone which features some terrifying guitar work. This one is a glorious thundering racket of energised and raw rhythmic attack pierced with astounding slide runs, throbbing chords and insistent distorted licks. It comes over as some of the most genuine blues music ever made and is still as irresistible as when it was made thirty eight years ago.
Some folks prefer the first Hound Dog Taylor album (ALCD4701) but I think this one has the edge thanks to the tougher sound and the choice of material but they're both right up there with the very best blues albums ever to come out of Chicago. I guarantee that once you've heard Hound Dog, you'll want more. What the hell - get both! What better way to celebrate Alligator's fortieth anniversary?
Review Date: August 2011