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Albums Of The Week: GA-20 | GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It…You Might Like It!

The Boston blues-rockers pay a raucous tribute to the 12-fingered Chicago legend.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:GA-20’s Try It…You Might Like It! features 10 blistering performances of songs written or performed by Chicago blues legends (and Alligator Records’ first artists) Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers.

Guitarist Matt Stubbs says, “One of the things I’ve always aspired to do is to have a unique voice on my instrument. There are those players who you can always recognize immediately; they have such an individual sound that they are identifiable right away. I think Hound Dog’s slide playing on Sitting At Home Alone is a perfect example. You know within the first three notes that it’s him. But it doesn’t stop there, you can tell it’s The HouseRockers by the way Brewer Phillips is playing the bassline on guitar and Ted Harvey’s bombastic approach. It’s a rare thing, and a hallmark of some of the greats. I don’t hear too many blues musicians these days approaching the song this way. We were really excited to record our version.”

Since first forming in 2018, GA-20 (guitarist Matt Stubbs, guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty and drummer Tim Carman) have drawn inspiration for their primal, original music from late 1950s/early 1960s blues, R&B and rock ’n’ roll. They use rare and vintage gear (including, at times, the famed Gibson GA-20 amplifier for which the band is named), creating powerfully raw, driving music that is at once traditional and refreshingly modern. The band’s dynamic sound and feel is as fresh and real as the old blues they love and perform, including songs by Otis Rush, J.B. Lenoir, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells and especially their favorite, Hound Dog Taylor. According to Stubbs, “Not enough people know just how cool Hound Dog Taylor was.”

Legendary six-fingered Chicago bluesman Theodore RooseveltHound DogTaylor always knew how he wanted to be remembered, declaring, “When I die they’ll say, ‘He couldn’t play shit, but he sure made it sound good!’” His first full-length recording in 1971 was also the first album on Alligator Records, Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers. In fact, label president Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator for the sole purpose of recording and releasing that album. Fifty years later, Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers is considered a classic of the genre, and Alligator boasts a catalog of over 350 blues and roots rock releases. With Taylor on wild slide guitar, Brewer Phillips picking out the bass notes on his beat-up Telecaster guitar, and Ted Harvey driving the beat, the band — playing their second-hand instruments through third-hand amps — made a loud, fast and joyful noise. Famed critic Robert Christgau referred to them as “The Ramones of the blues.” At the time, Iglauer recalls, “I figured that if I love this band and this music so much, everyone else will love them too.”

Now, with Try It…You Might Like It!, GA-20 unleash this timeless, down ’n’ dirty music, making it breathe and live as forcefully today as it did back when Hound Dog Taylor was spitting fire. Alligator’s Iglauer says, “No one made a more wonderfully glorious racket than Hound Dog, Brewer Phillips and Ted Harvey.” GA-20 fully capture the essence and spirit of the band, and the racket made by Matt Stubbs, Pat Faherty and Tim Carman is also pretty damn glorious. “Ultimately,” says Stubbs, “we think Hound Dog fans and blues fans will love this record, and we’re proud to bring his sound to a new audience.”