Natural Boogie

Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers

Alligator Records, 1973

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/07/1998

It's been a while since we last pulled Hound Dog Taylor out of the Pierce Archives (and now, a moment of silence for Rob Pilatus... hey, wait a minute...), so it's only natural that we jump from his debut album with his band The Houserockers to their second album, 1974's Natural Boogie.

Taylor, second guitarist Brewer Phillips and drummer Ted Harvey had burst to national prominence in 1971 when their first album came out. Their no-holds-barred style of raucous party blues captured the ears of an unsuspecting public, and they quickly earned fame - Taylor's coming near the end of his life. (A live album, Beware Of The Dog, came out after Taylor's death in 1975.)

Natural Boogie is more of the exact same style of blues that was featured on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers, but there's a big difference in the two albums - the first one was more fun to listen to.

Oh, don't get me wrong - there's still a lot of material on this album that will have you shaking your appendages with joy. "Buster's Boogie" is a kicking instrumental that is long on fun while seemingly short on time, while the album's opener "Take Five" is almost like picking up where the last album left off.

But a touch of stagnation is settling in on Natural Boogie that wasn't there on the first disc. Taylor himself would be the first to admit that he wasn't a great guitar player, but you can tell that many guitar riffs are recycled repeatedly on this album. What the hell was Taylor thinking when he based a whole portion of "One More Time" on the "shave-and-a-haircut" melody? Give me a break. (In defense of Taylor, the writing credit on this one is for Phillips, so maybe he's to blame for this one.) And I don't care if that is Taylor's name as the author of "Roll Your Moneymaker," this song owes more than a passing debt to Elmore James's "Shake Your Moneymaker".

If there's anything really worth cheering about on Natural Boogie, it's the development of Phillips and Harvey as true members of the band, not just additional musicians. Their sound on this album is just as critical as Taylor's slide work and vocals. (And frankly, unless you read the liner notes, you'd think that Phllips was playing the bass, not just another guitar.)

Oh, it's not that Natural Boogie is a bad album - in fact, it has many monents which make it quite good. But one would have expected a little more progress from Taylor in the three-year span between his debut release and this one. Still, I guess that if you picked this one up before any of the others, you'd probably fall head over heels over this album. (Ironically, the best cut from this sessions, "Don't Blame Me," didn't see the light of day until the first Genuine Houserockin' Music compilation - I don't know why this song didn't make it onto Natural Boogie.)

Natural Boogie is still worth checking out, even if it's only to discover the wonder of Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers - but it also shows the formula was starting to wear a little thin.

Rating: B-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Alligator Records, and is used for informational purposes only.