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

Chris May BY

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The movement for analog-era authenticity is in full bloom on this loving tribute to Chicago bluesman Hound Dog Taylor. A substantial portion of the five-page press release that accompanies Try It... You Might Like It! GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor is devoted to the array of vintage guitars and amplifiers collected and employed by the Boston-based blues trio GA-20. The group takes its name from a guitar amplifier Gibson manufactured in the 1950s. We need not go into the full tech spec here, but rest assured, these guys take obsession to the max. The album was, naturally, recorded live in the studio.

Born in Mississippi in 1915, Taylor was later based in Chicago, where he was an integral part of the South Side scene. Taylor's trio, The HouseRockers—which in its most magnificent incarnation comprised Taylor on guitar and vocals, Brewer Phillips on second guitar and Ted Harvey on drums—lived up to its billing. Raw, raucous and steam-punk rackety, the HouseRockers shook the foundations like few other trios. Taylor is said to have declared: "When I die they'll say 'he couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good.'" But Taylor could play, and his slide guitar style was as bad as that of Elmore James.

Blues connoisseur Bruce Iglauer, who formed Alligator Records specifically in order to release The HouseRockers' first full-length recording, Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers (1971), and who is involved in the release of Try It... You Might Like It!, says: "GA-20 are among the very few artists who have captured [The Houserockers'] essence. Hound Dog would be proud that they are delivering his music so well." It is always iffy to say what someone might or might not have liked once they have passed (Taylor did so in 1975), but if anyone should know if Taylor would like GA-20, it is Iglauer.

GA-20 is guitarist Matt Stubbs, guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty and drummer Tim Carman—like The HouseRockers they have no bassist —and Try It... You Might Like It! presents ten songs written or performed by Taylor. To its credit, GA-20 does not engage in slavish imitation of The HouseRockers; the trio is more intent on capturing the vibe. If anything, GAF-20's relentless full-tilt boogie is even more charged than that of their heroes, and Stubbs (who looks like a young Jerry Garcia, but plays with a lot more slash and burn than the Grateful Dead's lead guitarist ever did) brings his own licks to the party. At times you might wish for a tad more of Taylor's loose-limbed approach—compare The HouseRockers' version of "Sadie" on the YouTube clip below with that of GA-20—and Faherty's vocals lack the lived-in richness of Taylor's mature voice. But, hey, let's not get literal. Just crank up the volume and get cathartic.

Medical Note: GA-20's front cover artwork includes a photo of Hound Dog Taylor's left hand. He was born with six digits on each hand. The extras were stubs and could not be moved. One night Taylor, with a few drinks inside him, cut the extra digit on his right hand off with a straight razor.

Track Listing

She’s Gone; Let’s Get Funky; Sitting At Home Alone; Phillips Goes Bananas; It’s Alright; Give Me Back My Wig; It Hurts Me Too; See Me In The Evening; Sadie; Hawaiian Boogie.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Matt Stubbs: guitar; Pat Faherty: second guitar, vocals; Tim Carman: drums.

Album information

Title: Try It... You Might Like It! GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Colemine Records / Alligator Records

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