Half A Boy / Half A Man
CMC International Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/16/1999
Don't look now, Mother, but I think our little George has become a man.
After years of putting out blues-rock that espoused good times and good liquor, the public seemed to get tired of George Thorogood and the Destroyers. Even I - a self-proclaimed lover of the blues - fell away from following the one-time roadie for Hound Dog Taylor. I mean, there's only so many times you can tell a joke about whiskey before that joke just isn't funny anymore.
But Thorogood and crew obviously took a long look at things, and have stormed back to life with Half A Boy / Half A Man, a no-nonsense blues album that sounds like it was as fun to make as it is to listen to. Without a doubt, Thorogood has released the best album of his career.
The first thing that strikes me is Thorogood's choice of cover tunes - including the all-out party tune "Double Shot" (though I could have swore someone did it before the Swingin' Medallions - any help out there?).If there was ever a song that showed the life force returning to Thorogood and his music, this is the track. He doesn't even have to be the center of attention on this one; that honor falls to keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Hank Carter. It's a killer cover, and a tune I can't stop listening to.
The pure joy of Half A Boy / Half A Man continues with the title track, originally penned by Nick Lowe. Again, it's an interesting choice, but Thorogood and the Destroyers pull it off incredibly well, making it a tune you'll want to get up and dance to.
This isn't to say that the Destroyers always look for the party on this album. In fact, the blues that Thorogood and company play is some of the rawest I've heard in some time. Tracks like "99 Days To Jail," "I Don't Trust Nobody" and "Nothing Now" all seem to indicate a new sense of focus for Thorogood and crew - not that they didn't have focus on previous albums.
Thorogood even has the courage to take a trip into country with the track "Not Tonight (I Have A Heartache)", one of only two songs Thorogood wrote on the album. Undoubtedly this one is going to end up on Pete Levin's page of funny country song titles, but it's not that bad of a tune.
Thorogood's days of superstardom with tracks like "Bad To The Bone" might be gone - and in a way, this could be a blessing for him. Without the glare of the spotlight, Thorogood has been able to sit back and prepare an album that features some of his best playing in years. And something tells me if radio gave tracks like "Double Shot" or "Half A Boy, Half A Man" a chance, the phones would be lighting up like Christmas trees.
Half A Boy / Half A Man is an album that reaffirms Thorogood and the Destroyers' ability to work the blues into a frenzy that you hope will never stop. It's an album that must be experienced - but good luck getting it out of your CD player.