When Capitol/EMI Records asked George Thorogood and his band, the Destroyers, to record an album of songs from the venerable Chess Records catalog, it was like asking a fish to be in water. But that also presented its own kind of challenge in choosing tunes for the set.
“We’d already done over 20-some songs from Chess,” explains Thorogood, 61, who’s best known for his iconic 1982 hit “Bad to the Bone.” “They said, ‘That’s why we want you to do this,’ and I was like, ‘Well, yeah, but there’s hardly any left that haven’t been done.’ And they said, ‘Don’t worry about that. Just don’t do ones you’ve already done.’
“And when we started going through that list, it wound up being a tough job just to get down to the 13 songs we did on the album.”
“2010 South Michigan Avenue,” named after the Chess label’s address in Chicago, features guest appearances by Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy on Tommy Tucker’s “High Heel Sneakers,” while harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite covers the late Little Water’s parts on “My Babe” and the title track, which was originally done by the Rolling Stones as their own tribute to Chess. Thorogood, meanwhile, wrote two originals with producer Tom Hambridge — “Going Back” and “Willie Dixon’s Gone.”
“It’s always a fight to get an original out of me unless it’s something I’m really crazy about,” Thorogood notes. “I used to write songs or have originals just to fill out the album, but now I really want them to be a statement for us, like ‘I Drink Alone’ was, or ‘Tail Dragger.’
“But on this one I really wanted to show that (Chess) influence on what I do ... although when I put together original things, it sounds like Creedence (Clearwater Revival) jamming with the Rolling Stones. That’s just how it turns out. That’s me.”
George Thorogood & the Destroyers and Kenny Wayne Shepherd perform at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills. Tickets are $25 and $25 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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