Hound Dog Taylor

Live at Florence's

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This is the first Hound Dog Taylor material to be released without the approval of Alligator or the Taylor estate and the first whose origins are totally suspect; in short, one step away from being a bootleg, making its non-appearance on compact disc no small mystery. The fidelity is strictly cheap tape recorder on a table by the bandstand quality; one can hear people walking in front of the single microphone, the signal is full of extra distortion and occasional dropouts, and the editing on this album is nothing short of truly annoying. But if -- as the old adage goes -- the play is the thing, then this is the Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers album to avidly track down, as the band is absolutely in their home turf element, rocking the house down to the bricks and then some. There are only two vocals among the ten selections here and that actually aids the listenability of the record, as Hound Dog's vocals on "Rock Me" and Elmore James' "I Held My Baby Last Night" are completely reduced to audio mush between the low grade microphone he's singing into and the lo-fi recording itself. But the instrumentals cover a wide area, indeed. Some, like "Comin' Round The Mountain," "Let's Get Funky," and "Goodnight Boogie" are simply superior in their original Alligator versions. But storming takes on "You Can't Sit Down," the mistitled (to grab publishing credit) "Stompin'" -- actually "Howlin' For My Darling" -- and "Juke Joint Boogie" tip the scales into making this a tough-to-find piece that's well worth any effort it takes to acquire a copy. Not the place to start, and certainly for completists only, but some of the best and nastiest Hound Dog you'll ever hear.