Vertigo Records Album Review: S/T by HOUND DOG TAYLOR AND THE HOUSEROCKERS

SPONSORED BY VERTIGO RECORDS – 193 RIDEAU ST. OTTAWA, CANADA

vertigologo2011I get there are many folks who find joy and dancing happiness in blues music, but that’s not the blues I want.  There are bars packed full of people up dancing to the swing sounds of journeyman players blasting through the hits, all with their big bellies and buttoned-up shirts and fancy fucking hats, but that ain’t the blues to me.  Blues needs to be sweaty, ugly, and down right filthy – and usually very fucking loaded on whiskey.  I want the guitar sound to be an extension of the pain that marginalized musician feels after waking up hammered from the night before, only to have to sit in the car for 5 hours to get to the next night of debauchery.  He knows there’s gonna be company at the next town, and maybe even a warm bed to stay in.  He knows the whiskey will be cheap, the band room covered in graffiti, and the club will probably smell like shit, but it’s his love and his passion for what he does that keeps him on this path that will probably kill him one day.  Either that, or he simply knows how to do nothing else.  Regardless, blues needs to be steeped in authentic pain and misery for me to really dig it. That shit can’t be faked; it’s not fooling me if it is.

tumblr_mwlqgjrBZ41t12p91o1_1280Hound Dog Taylor was not the first blues musician I enjoyed.  In fact, I had been working with blues musicians, good and bad, for some time before I found Taylor, but it was only when I heard his gritty authenticity that I fell in love with the blues.  That guy took a piece of shit, $100 guitar, beat the living shit out of it with a slide, and filled the room with the most beautiful dirt I’d ever heard on a guitar.  No bullshit with that guy – none.   In songs like She’s Gone, you can tell how much it’s fucked him up, and when he belts that slide across those strings, that guitar cries for you – you can feel the pain, taste it.  Dirt in the blues has become quite popular with the younger folks of late.  Groups like The Black Keys and their first couple of records, all them Fat Possum fellas like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, they all lacquered their blues with filth, but it’s Hound Dog Taylor and his Alligator Records releases that reign supreme on my turntable, with this record holding a special place, as it was the first I’d heard of his collection. That guy just didn’t give a fuck.  So powerful and filthy, and the electricity from that piercing slide sound still stands the hair up on my arms, like I’m standing in the eye of a seriously violent storm; a storm I want to live in and never leave.  The use of a second, barritone guitar instead of a bass gives it a rawness you don’t get from most electric blues acts.  It’s like getting a bit of that raw sittin’-on-the-porch blues, but from an electric trio.  Even when you think he’s going to give you some sunshine with track titles like Wild About You Baby, you never get reprieve from his angst.  He really digs the lady, but of course, she’s fucked him over.  Again, I can’t help but come back to the production (or lack of) of the guitar sound.  It might just be the dirtiest guitar sound I’ve ever heard on a record, and for that reason, this is simply the best blues album I own, and probably will ever own.  Please, even if you think blues music is shit, if you respect heavy guitar sound, grit and angst in music, and intense emotion in song, then this record is a must listen.  Trust me, it may change everything for you. – FATS

SHE’S GONE by HOUND DOG TAYLOR AND THE HOUSEROCKERS from the S/T album HOUND DOG TAYLOR AND THE HOUSEROCKERS