George Thorogood / George Thorogood & the Destroyers

dd 2120 South Michigan Ave.

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George Thorogood & the Destroyers have never made their debt to Chess Records a secret, so an album-length tribute to the home of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley is a logical move for the rough and tumble blues-rockers. This is so firmly within Thorogood's wheelhouse that 2120 South Michigan Ave -- its name saluting the Chicago address of Chess Studios and the Rolling Stones instrumental saluting the hallowed location, the Stones' song turning a young Thorogood on to the wonders of Chicago blues -- feels like it could have been recorded at any stage in his career. Only the odd instance of Auto-Tune -- and it is truly odd on an otherwise rocking version of “High Heel Sneakers” graced by a cameo by Buddy Guy -- marks this album as a 2011 release, and that’s a good thing: the Destroyers are always best when they stick to the basics which these ten Chess covers, two newly written tributes, and Stones' cover are. Thorogood’s specialty has never been subtlety, so barreling through these tunes at a breakneck pace is par for the course, but what makes the record work is the group’s palpable love for the material, and producer Tom Hambridge’s willingness to leave some grit in the grooves, an inclination that largely mitigates his temptation to occasionally dabble with an Auto-Tune that is entirely unnecessary for music this simple and raw.

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