Monday, June 30, 2008

Hound Dog Taylor - Release the Hound (Alligator, 2004)

It's hard not to break into a spontaneous grin when listening to slide guitarist and vocalist Hound Dog Taylor. The man had a ready smile, infectious laugh, and even an extra finger! Taylor was also the man who prompted the founding of the Alligator Records label, so it makes sense that they should release this posthumous collection of live and studio recordings. This is not some type of cash-in barrel scraping by any means, but a fine collection of high-wire electric blues. Taylor played a gutsy slide guitar akin to Elmore James and J.B. Hutto, and was backed with rhythm guitar and drums with no bass, giving the music a raw, urban, take no prisoners sound. When the band gets into their all out boogie mode, they practically levitate off the stage. "Send You Back to Georgia" set s up a wicked shuffle beat with Taylor sliding all over the place and threatening to kick his woman out. There are some great covers: Elmore James is a natural, and Taylor's "It Hurts Me Too" mines the same emotional territory as James. The version of Ray Charles "What I'd Say" is wild, with the trio playing with just barely contained excitement. A couple of nice instrumentals are included as well like a version of Freddie King's "Sen-Sa-Shun" and their own exciting "Walking on the Ceiling." This is a fine addition to Taylor's all to small recorded output. There's nothing especially subtle about the music found here, but for good time, shake your butt boogie blues, there's none better.

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