Thursday, August 19, 2021

GA-20 - GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It . . . You Might Like It

Whooo-weee!  Itchy an’ scratchy!  Slippin’ an’ slidin’!  Buzzin’ with fuzz!  Movin’ an’ a-groovin’!
In a nutshell, my friends, that is GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It . . . You Might Like It!  Nuff said.
What?  You want freakin’ details?  Okay – listen up.
First the boring stuff.  GA-20 are a two guitars and drums combo who got together in Boston three years back.  Pat Faherty sings and plays a ton of slide guitar.  Matt Stubbs plays guitar too.  And Tim Carman just about holds them together on drums, in addition to wearing the odd cheesy sweater.  Oh yeah, and  they love old gear – guitars, amps, all that stuff.  On Try It You . . . Might Like It! they’ve bashed out ten tracks either written or once upon a time performed by
GA-20 - smile, dudes!
Sixties Chicago bluesman Hound Dog Taylor and his band the HouseRockers – also a two guitar and drums outfit.  You want some extra local colour?  Well, Hound Dog had six fingers on each hand, though the extras were just stubs, and one well-oiled night he cut one of them off with a razor.
All of which is great background, but you wanna know what this GA-20 crew sound like, right?
Picture the scene.  It’s the end of Pulp Fiction, Jules and Vincent are about to walk out of the diner in their t-shirts and shorts, and Tarantino has decided he doesn’t want that ‘Surf Rider’ shit for the soundtrack.  So what does he get instead?  ‘Phillips Goes Bananas’, that’s what – ‘Phillips’ being Brewer Phillips, Hound Dog’s sidekick guitarist.  It’s a cool as fuck, rattling little instrumental, all hip-shaking boogie based on clipping drums from Carman.
Or there’s ‘Give Me Back My Wig’.  Now, Hound Dog was a black dude of course, but let’s imagine The Beatles playing Hamburg’s Star Club in 1962.  It’s three in the morning, they’re off their heads on uppers, and they’re trying to make up Chuck Berry songs.  Macca’s broken too many strings on his bass, so he’s knocking out a revolving bass line on a spare guitar he found backstage.
Or get your shell-likes round ‘Let’s Get Funky’, which sounds like a bunch of drunken Morse Code operators having a bash at Thin Lizzy’s ‘Me And The Boys’, full of conversational guitar licks from Faherty.  Lyrics?  Forget it.  Faherty calls out a bunch of disjointed phrases, like “You
Hound Dog - having a real good time!
know what she told me?”  And what she told him, it seems, is “I don’t like it when you do it like that.  I want you to try it this way.  You might like it.”  Is it just me, or does that sound like it’s about sex?  It’s just me?  Okay.
Anyway, the opener ‘She’s Gone’ is a throbbing, buzzing thing that’s nine-tenths lockstep guitars knocking out an irresistible groove, with some incantatory lyrics and a sudden blast of a slide break for good measure.  ‘Sitting At Home Alone’ is a slower blues, with undulating rhythm guitar from Stubbs and Faherty playing scraping slide like he’s taking a cheese grater to his guitar.  And if I say that Faherty’s vocals, while fine, aren’t quite bad enough, I don’t mean bad as in good, I mean bad as in Hound Dog Taylor’s gleeful squawk.  (Alright, I’m being a bit unfair to ol’ Hound Dog, but give him a listen for yourself!) ‘Sadie’ is a slow-ish, swaying affair too with Stubbs bringing chiming, reverberating rhythm guitar to the table alongside some guitar-torturing slide from Faherty.  It feels like the dance floor of some sweaty joint several drinks too far into the night, shortly before the clientele peel off to, er, get funky.
Look, it ain't rocket science. It’s not moral philosophy. It's rock'n'roll. Like Hound Dog himself said, "When I die they'll say, 'He couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good!'"   Listening to this, I had me, to quote The Faces, a real good time!  So you know, try it . . . yeah, you know the rest.  (And check out the Hound Dog too!)

GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It . . . You Might Like It! is released on Colemine Records, in collaboration with Alligator Records, on 20 August.  Order the album here.

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