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George Thorogood, ‘Going Back’ – Song Review

Paul Kane, Getty Images
Paul Kane, Getty Images

George Thorogood is stepping way back to salute his influences from the legendary Chess Records roster with ‘Going Back,’ the lead single from a brand new album, ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’ set for release on July 12.

‘Going Back’ works well as an overview of what we can expect, a project outline of sorts that finds Thorogood name-checking many of his heroes with rapid fire precision as the final seconds of the song run out.

“Howlin’ Wolf / Sonny Boy Williamson / Muddy ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ Waters / Little Walter / Chuck Berry / ’Big Bad’ Bo Diddley / Rolling Stones / Jake and Elwood.’ It was via the Rolling Stones that Thorogood discovered the Chess Records family of artists, when he heard the Stones instrumental ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’ on their album ‘12 x 5.’  The name struck a chord with Thorogood, who investigated by sending a letter to that address, which he had discovered was the home of Chess Records. Once he received their catalog of artists in the mail, his musical path was forever altered.

“From 1956 to 1965 / Mississippi Delta found a home / On Chicago’s deep south side.” From the opening moments of ‘Going Back,’ you can hear the emotional investment that Thorogood has with the music of Chess Records. There’s an extra bit of punch behind the casual looseness of Thorogood’s vocal that immediately indicates that he’s all in for this project. This ain’t no record label-suggested move to sell some records.

“I’m going back to the Windy City / I’m going back to the nitty gritty / Back to the South Side sound / Where it all went down.” The brash junkyard dog feel of Thorogood’s vocals meld with some of the dirtiest guitar riffs that he and the Destroyers have put down on record in years. In other words, this stuff is less ‘Get A Haircut’ and more of the ‘Move It On Over,’ ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ quality.

“You walk down the back alley / Oh no no no no, not that alley over there / You still hear those voices sing / Takes you back in time/ Back when the blues was king.” Thorogood takes us around the backstreets, down the secret passageways of roads that are less traveled, but loaded with history. Conversing with his guitar, Thorogood cautiously points out the nooks and crannies that are best left alone.

Hearing ‘Going Back’ as a preview, it’s reasonably safe to say that we can expect good things from the forthcoming ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’ record. Thorogood has delivered one of his best singles in years and it’s a toe tappin’ juke joint bustin’ good time, a mood that will hopefully hold true for the rest of the album.

Listen to George Thorogood’s ‘Going Back’

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