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Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers
on 23 December 2014
An important record in some ways, although not always for musical reasons. Bruce Iglauer heard Hound Dog some time in 1969 but couldn't persuade his boss at Delmark records to record him, so spent a small inheritance in setting up Alligator records just to record him. Alligator is now one of the largest, longest lived, and most successful of specialist blues labels in existence. In another way Hound Dog was also one of the last flowerings of the last flowering of the Chicago blues, because not much of quality followed him.
The band is a trio, with Hound Dog on lead guitar and vocals, Brewer Phillips on second and sometimes lead guitar, and Ted Harvey on drums. It's all high volume stuff with Hound Dog playing fuzzy, distorted guitar, Phillips contributing some raw guitar and Harvey laying down a driving, heavy, rock influenced beat. So, there's plenty of excitement with Hound Dog playing some fine aggressive guitar on 'Taylor's Rock','Give Me Back My Wig', and '55th Street Boogie', and Phillips emerging to lead the band on 'Phillip's Theme', producing a very good solo.
Hound Dog sounds to have been influenced mainly by Elmore James. He plays a couple of Elmore's numbers on the disc and that's where the doubts creep in. Elmore produced raw, edge of the seat excitement, but could couple it with heart breaking emotion because he was one of the greatest blues guitarists, whist Hound Dog simply cranks up the revs and thrashes along. Elmore could holler and cry the blues as a great singer whereas Hound Dog possesses a relatively small voice which sounds oddly lost in the noise the band produces.
This doesn't measure up to the music being produced in Chicago in the previous 20 years, but the band produce an exciting sound and the disc is enjoyable.
On my copy the band sounds well recording and bass and drums are not lost in the mix, contrary to some of the reviews.