Thursday, July 26, 2012

What The Hell Is Going On? reviewed by Steve Jones

What The Hell Is Going On? 
Paul Thorn
Perpetual Obscurity Records
12 tracks

I am making amends in reviewing this CD.  In our November-December 2010 issue of our Newsletter I wrote a short, sweet, to the point review that “Pimps and Preachers,” Thorns last album, was not a blues album and did not spend much time extolling that it was a damn fine CD.  Well, here we are again, another CD that really isn’t a blues album in a strict or even loose sense, but it is another damn fine CD.

Thorn has visited Rockford twice since “Pimps” was released.  I missed the first show, which was scaled down and low keyed in its’ approach.  I caught him amped up and with the whole band at the New American Theater and was witness to a revival, rock concert, circus tent, and who knows what the hell else?  It was great.  “Pimps and Preachers” was a great CD and so is this one.  I think I already said something to that effect already, but I am making a point here.

The difference between then and now is minimal.  Thorn wrote all the songs on the previous album and this is all covers.  Does it matter?  Hell no.  This is cool stuff.  Lindsey Buckingham, Allen Toussaint, Elvin Bishop, Rick Danko, Eli “Paperboy” Reed and others have their songs taken to new levels or depth, depending on the topic presented.  Thorn is able to be serious or tongue in cheek, presenting topics ranging from the Texas swamp (Ray Wyle Hubbard’s “Snake Farm”) to  Sothern rock anthems  like “Don’t Let Me Down Again” (Buckingham) and “Small Talk Town” (Danko).  It is always a fun ride with Thorn. Elvin Bishop joins Thorn on guitar on the title track (that Bishop also wrote).  This one is a rocking good time!

Toussaint’s “Wrong Number” gets Thorn’s treatment in a slow and thoughtful cover.  The final track is perhaps the coolest, with a big intro and then a rousing and bouncing cover of Paperboy Reed’s “Take My Love With You.”  Delbert McClinton joins Thorn on “Bull Mountain Bridge,” a Wild Bill Emerson song.  The two of them ham it up and trade off vocals and do the choruses together.  All in all, this is a great CD top to bottom!

Thorn has picked a dozen masterfully crafted songs and put his down home and authentic sound to them, making them his own even though he is just borrowing them. Joining Thorn are Bill Hinds on guitar, Michael Graham on keys, Ralph Friedrichsen on bass and Jeffrey Perkins on drums and percussion.  A great front man, a great band and great songs add up to a great CD.  If you want some rocking southern rock with a blues and go-to-church influence, then run right out and get this one.  It’s a great album and showcases what Thorn can do to make covers sound original.  These are cuts he features in his live shows and they are an excellent compliment to his own songs.  Don’t miss this one.

No comments: