Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers (ST 1971)

This recording is RAW, WARM foot-stomping boogie...some REALLY nice distortion slash fuzz on the guitar...I have no idea how he's getting these dark rich guitar tones (maybe the Sears Roebuck amplifier) but it lays down wonderfully against his sweet high end vocals. A great document from the delta, and this recording would be Bruce Iglauer's first, and put him on the road to Alligator Records.

Theodore Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor was born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1915 (some sources say 1917). He began playing guitar when he was 20 and moved to Chicago in 1942.

He became a full-time musician around 1957 but remained unknown outside of the Chicago area. After hearing Taylor with his band, the HouseRockers (consisting of Brewer Phillips, second guitar, and Ted Harvey, drums) in 1969, an idealistic young white man named Bruce Iglauer attempted unsuccessfully to get him signed by his employer, Delmark Records. Iglauer then decided to become Taylor's manager, formed a small record label with a $2500 inheritance and recorded Taylor's debut album, Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers, with Alligator Records in 1971. It was the first release on Alligator records, now a major blues label. It was recorded live in studio in just two nights, together with the follow up: Natural Boogie.

Their second release, Natural Boogie, was culled from the same 1971 recording sessions and led to greater acclaim. His third Alligator album, Beware of the Dog, was recorded live in 1974 but only released after his death. More posthumous releases occurred as well, all on the Alligator label. Hound Dog Taylor was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984.

Hound Dog Taylor is best known for his raw vocal style and searing slide guitar, using a cheap Teisco guitar and Sears Roebuck amplifier to great advantage. He was not a smooth virtuoso on either of his instruments (guitar or vocals), and was known to say, "When I die, they'll say, 'He couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good!'" The HouseRockers were also unique in the fact that they had no bass player; rather, Taylor and Phillips would take turns playing the rhythm/bass line while the other soloed. Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers have been called "The Ramones of the blues."

Freddie King admitted when interviewed that his classic, Hideaway, later covered by Eric Clapton, was inspired by an unnamed Hound Dog Taylor instrumental he had heard Taylor perform at the south side Chicago club Mel's Hideaway in the late 1950s. Stevie Ray Vaughan also covered Taylor's best known song Give Me Back My Wig, both in concert and in studio.

Hound Dog Taylor died of cancer in 1975 and was buried in Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.


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