Size: 73.3 MB
Ripped by: chrisGoesRock
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster
They ran on equal parts of brotherly love, vicious adolescent rivalry and Canadian Club. For over ten years, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers made joyous music together five or six nights a week, first in the tiny taverns that dot Chicago's South Side ghetto, later in clubs, colleges and concert halls literally around the world. They were quite a sight on the bandstand. Hound Dog, perched on his folding chair, stomping both feet to keep time, grinning his millions-of-teeth grin, pausing between songs only long enough to light up a Pall Mall and tell a totally incomprehensible joke (which he'd interrupt halfway through, cackling with laughter and burying his face in his hand) before tearing into another no-holds-barred boogie. Phillips (no one ever called him Brewer) with his broken teeth and crooked smile dancing in the aisles, his vintage Fender Telecaster strung around his neck like some giant pendant, his shirt tail hanging out, kicking his leg in the air as he squeezed out a high note, occasionally grabbing the mike to sing in a voice as battered as his guitar. Ted Harvey, his hair clipped tight to his head, yelling out encouragement from behind his minimal drum set, chomping out the rhythm on the wad of gum in his mouth, sometimes drifting off to sleep without ever missing a beat, until Phillips would sneak up behind him in mid-song and wake him with a slap across the back of the head.
They were inseparable, and they played together like brothers, sensing each other's musical twists and turns before they happened, feeding energy and good spirits from one to the other. They fought like brothers too, as they crisscrossed the country from gig to gig in Hound Dog's old Ford station wagon, arguing constantly about who was the best lover, who had the best woman, who was the best mayor Chicago ever had, who was or wasn't out of tune the night before. The arguments weren't always in fun, either. From time to time a knife appeared, and finally even a gun.
They made a lot of noise for three men with two guitars and a drum set. Between the incredible distortion from Hound Dog's supercheap Japanese guitar, the sustain from his brass-lined steel slide (made from the leg of a kitchen chair), the sheet-metal tone of Phillips' ancient Fender, their cracked-speaker amplifiers, and Ted's simple, kickass drumming, they could indeed rock the house
They played amazingly long sets, two or three hours of driving boogies and shuffles mixed with the occasional slow blues. It was music born in the Deep South juke joints, when electric guitars were still something new and bass guitars were unheard of, music for all-night dancing and partying. The purists called them a blues band, but Hound Dog called it rock and roll.
Hound Dog was already playing guitar and piano when he came to Chicago from Mississippi in 1942 at the age of 27 (He used to haul an upright piano to Delta fish fries on a mule-drawn wagon). But he was strictly an amateur musician. He moved in with his sister Lucy in the neighborhood around 39th & Indiana in the heart of the ghetto, a neighborhood he lived in for the rest of his life. He found a day job as a short order cook, and on Sunday mornings he played for tips at the Maxwell Street open-air market, competing for attention with unknowns like Muddy Waters and Robert Nighthawk.
It wasn't until 1955, when Hound Dog lost his last job building TV cabinets, that he began trying to make his living as a musician. He played with almost every guitarist and drummer in the city until he chose a construction worker named Phillips in 1959 and a shipping clerk named Ted in 1965 as the official HouseRockers.
By pricing his band lower than any other on the South Side (when I met them in 1970, the whole band was making $45 a night), Hound Dog was able to get gigs at taverns that usually couldn't afford a band. And by pumping out non-stop music and clowning, he drew one of the most loyal crowds in town. Hound Dog and the HouseRockers played some of the seediest clubs in Chicago, clubs that held fifty or a hundred people (who were usually dancing frantically in the aisles), clubs that didn't even have a bandstand, just a space cleared of tables where the band could squeeze in. Their favorite gig was the Sunday afternoon jam at Florence's at 54th Place and Shields, a gig they held for over ten years. On Sundays at Florence's, you were likely to run into Big Walter Horton, Magic Slim, Carey Bell, Lefty Dizz, Son Seals, Lee Jackson, Big MooseWalker, Lonnie Brooks, Left Hand Frank or Johnny Embry, all waiting to sit in with Hound Dog.
When Wes Race and I recorded them, we did our best to create the atmosphere of one of those club gigs in the sterile environment of Sound Studios. We couldn't bring in all their friends and fans, but we did bring in the same battered amps, cranked them up to the same maximum volume, poured the whiskey, and the band cut the same songs they played every Sunday at Florence 's because they wouldn't rehearse and hated to play the same song twice. We cut two albums in two nights, recording twenty songs a night and choosing among the best takes for the albums. We released Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers in 1971 and Natural Boogie in 1973, and the songs on this album were recorded and mixed at the same sessions.
After the release of their first album, their three lives changed dramatically. They went on the road, first to Midwest clubs, then to New England colleges, then to New York concert halls, and finally even to Australia and New Zealand. They established fanatical followings in college-town clubs like the Kove in Kent, Ohio and Joe's Place in Cambridge (where they often played six nights a week for three weeks straight to packed houses, and an unknown acoustic guitarist named George Thorogood opened the shows). They gave three fantastically successful performances at the Ann Arbor Blues Festivals and headlined festivals in Miami, Washington and Buffalo. They played Philharmonic Hall in New York, the Auditorium in Chicago and literally hundreds of other gigs around the country. Rolling Stone printed a feature on them. They even appeared on nationwide Canadian early morning television (where Hound Dog told everyone how happy he was to be visiting the home of Canadian Club).
When I think back on the four years I managed, booked, recorded, drove and carried equipment for Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers, dozens of incidents crowd into my mind:
- Hound Dog shaking the sleeping Ted Harvey after seven or eight hundred miles on the road, and commanding him to ''wake up and argue!";
- the delight of the band in locating a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Melbourne after they had decided they were going to starve to death rather than eat Australian food;
- a late-night slide guitar duel to the death with J.B. Hutto at Alice's Revisited in Chicago, with no clear-cut winner;
- Hound Dog's pride at being introducd by B.B. King to the audience at the posh London House night club;
- Ted falling asleep in a huge shipping carton backstage before a crucial concert and being found only seconds before showtime;
- Hound Dog sitting up all night in a Toronto hotel room with the lights, TV and radio on, because he was afraid to go to sleep and have another one of his dreams about being chased by wolves;
- Phillips stepping in to save me from a knife-wielding drunk outside of Florence's;
- and Hound Dog, dying in his hospital bed, desperately hanging on to life until Phillips finally relented and came to visit him and put to rest their most serious (and violent) argument. Brothers indeed.
Hound Dog died on December 17, 1975. Phillips and Ted are still playing on the South Side, and they still visit Hound Dog's wife, Fredda. And they still talk about him and his musicians as do thousands of fans. But Hound Dog said it best -- ''When I die, they'll say, 'he couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good!' ''
When Theodore Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor sat down on his battered folding chair, slipped his steel slide onto his six-fingered left hand and tore into one of his foot-stomping shuffles, supercharged boogies or a searing slow blues, he had one thing in mind--making people forget their troubles, either by dancing or by immersing themselves in the deepest of bottleneck blues. And whether he was playing for old friends at one of Chicago's inner-city bars or for thousands of college kids and hippies at clubs and campuses around the country, Taylor's music never changed. With just two guitars and a drum set, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers created a rocked-out, hypnotic, ultra-danceable sound that is as emotionally powerful and wildly energizing today as it was the day they produced it.
Until he recorded his (and Alligator Records') first album, HOUND DOG TAYLOR AND THE HOUSEROCKERS in 1971, Taylor was largely unknown outside of Chicago. He played blues guitar for 35 years before reaching a wider audience and gaining the status of a beloved blues icon. From the mid-1950's until 1975, Taylor and his band--second guitarist Brewer Phillips and drummer Ted Harvey--kicked out the blues jams all over the South and West sides, including a regular Sunday afternoon gig at Florence's Lounge. It was at one of these performances in 1970 where a young blues fan named Bruce Iglauer decided to start a blues record label for the sole purpose of recording Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers.
Without a drop of slickness, Taylor's electrified blues was feral, rocking and raw. Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau referred to the band as "the Ramones of the blues," and it's easy to understand why. Taylor played fast, loud and sloppy, and would sometimes hit bad notes or get out of tune. But he always made primeval, soul-satisfying music. Nobody could match him when it came to emotional fervor and the pure joy of making music. Songs like Give Me Back My Wig, She's Gone, and Walking The Ceiling are now considered blues classics. "Live wire exuberance and hard-as-nails force," said Rolling Stone, "natural for partying, drinking and talking loud."
Now, for the first time in 22 years, there's finally more Hound Dog Taylor music to be heard. RELEASE THE HOUND is a sizzling collection of some of the best previously unreleased Hound Dog Taylor material in existence. Featuring over 68 minutes of music, RELEASE THE HOUND boasts 14 live and studio performances, including stunning versions of Wild About You, Baby, What'd I Say?, She's Gone, Sen-Sa-Shun and Gonna Send You Back To Georgia. Taylor's wild guitar exuberance and joyous, soulful abandon fuel each and every song. Three instrumentals on the CD showcase Brewer Phillips' crazed lead guitar playing. From the audience reactions on the live cuts to the untamed blues energy of the studio tracks, RELEASE THE HOUND will delight old fans and introduce new ones to Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers' one-of-a-kind blues experience.
Born in Mississippi in 1917, Taylor didn't start playing guitar until he was 20. He worked as a sharecropper by day and played at Delta juke joints and house parties in the evenings. After a harrowing encounter with the Ku Klux Klan in 1942 (he had a cross burned in his yard), Taylor moved north to Chicago, where he performed at the famous outdoor market on Maxwell Street, competing for tips with Muddy Waters and Robert Nighthawk. Hound Dog played in ghetto bars at night while working a factory job until the late 1950's, when he became a full time musician. He recorded one single, Christine/Alley Music, for Firma Records and another, Take Five/My Baby's Coming Home, for Bea & Baby Records in the early 1960's. Both records were good local sellers but went largely unnoticed outside of Chicago. A session for Chess remained unissued until the 1990's. Taylor toured Europe without his band as part of the American Folk Blues Festival, playing behind Little Walter and others, but never got a chance to show European audiences the magic of his own music.
Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers appeared at the second Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1970 (and became a featured attraction at the third, fourth and fifth Ann Arbor Blues festivals), playing to thousands of cheering college kids. When his Alligator album hit the streets in 1971, Taylor's transition from local hero to national and international blues icon was almost immediate. He began touring the country, continuing to win new, young fans. And he never changed a bit. Taylor played his music with furious abandon whether he was at Florence's on the South Side of Chicago or entertaining college kids at Yale or Harvard. "Nobody but nobody brings the house down with a frenzy and madness like these cats," raved Living Blues. "Deliciously raucous," said Guitar Player.
In all, Taylor recorded a total of three Alligator albums before dying of cancer in 1975. Aside from his self-titled 1971 debut, Taylor's records are 1974's NATURAL BOOGIE and 1976's live, Grammy©-nominated BEWARE OF THE DOG!, released shortly after his death. The success of these records gave life to Alligator, allowing the fledgling label to survive and eventually thrive. In 1982 Alligator issued the Grammy©-nominated GENUINE HOUSEROCKING MUSIC, a collection of unreleased studio tracks. The continuing demand for more of Taylor's material has brought forth a number of poorly recorded, bad sounding bootlegs over the years--recordings for which Taylor and his bandmates never saw any payments or royalties.
Years after his death, Taylor's legendary status still continues to grow. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall Of Fame in 1984. And his debut album received the Blues Foundation's Classics of Blues Recordings Award in 1996. His influence on slide guitarists who came after him is immeasurable. Artists from George Thorogood to Sonny Landreth to Vernon Reid to Gov't Mule continue to be inspired by Hound Dog's music. That's why these artists and others, including Elvin Bishop, Luther Allison, Ronnie Earl, Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, Son Seals, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Hole, Michael Hill's Blues Mob and Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin contributed songs to Alligator Records' HOUND DOG TAYLOR - A TRIBUTE in 1998. A 1999 "Best Of" collection entitled DELUXE EDITION continued to spread Hound Dog's legend around the world.
Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers played foot-stomping boogies to make fans forget their troubles and dance. They played grinding slow blues to exorcise their demons. "I'm with you, baby I'm with you," Taylor would shout when someone yelled a request out of the audience. "Let's have some fun," he'd holler after sitting down and plugging in his ultra-cheap Japanese guitar into his cracked-speaker Sears Silvertone amp. And with Brewer Phillips playing bass lines on his old Fender and Ted Harvey pounding away at the drums, this three-piece blues band made a lot of wonderful noise. "When I die," Taylor once said, "they'll say, 'he couldn't play shit but he sure made it sound good.'" Almost 30 years after his death, RELEASE THE HOUND proves just how good that sound can be.
01. Ain't Got Nobody
Author/Publisher: Taylor, Eyeball Music, BMI
02. Gonna Send You Back To Georgia
Author/Publisher: Taylor, Eyeball Music, BMI
03. Fender Bender
Author/Publisher: Phillips, Eyeball Music, BMI
04. My Baby's Coming Home
Author/Publisher: Taylor & Eatmon, publisher unknown
05. Blue Guitar
Author/Publisher: Taylor, Eyeball Music, BMI
06. The Sun Is Shining
Author/Publisher: James, Arc Music, BMI
07. Phillips Goes Bananas
Author/Publisher: Phillips, Eyeball Music, BMI
08. What'd I Say
Author/Publisher: Charles, Progressive Music, BMI
09. Kansas City
Author/Publisher: Leiber & Stoller, Halnat Publishing, BMI
Author/Publisher: Traditional, public domain