What the Hell Is Goin' On?

What the Hell Is Goin' On?

by Paul Thorn
     
 

Prior to What the Hell Is Goin' On?, singer, songwriter and guitarist Paul Thorn issued six albums since 1997, all of them packed with (mostly) original material. His sensibility as a writer is informed by the wildly varied life he's lived (see bio). It was questionable, however, as to whether he could bring his qualities to bear on an album of covers. The 12…  See more details below

Overview

Prior to What the Hell Is Goin' On?, singer, songwriter and guitarist Paul Thorn issued six albums since 1997, all of them packed with (mostly) original material. His sensibility as a writer is informed by the wildly varied life he's lived (see bio). It was questionable, however, as to whether he could bring his qualities to bear on an album of covers. The 12 tunes Thorn's chosen here are rooted in classic forms -- barroom blues, roots rock, soul, gospel, country, etc. What's immediately apparent, whether you are familiar with the original tunes on this set or not, is just how Thorn has made them his own. The razor-wire electric funky blues of the title track (which features its author Elvin Bishop on guitar), the raw wail of desire in Free's "Walk in My Shadow," the slightly off-kilter rhythm 'n' soul in Allen Toussaint's "Wrong Number," or the scorching country-funk pried from bluegrass in Wild Bill and Martha Jo Emerson's "Bull Mountain Ridge" (with an excellent guest vocal by Delbert McClinton), all bear Thorn's indelible imprint. There are some excellent curveballs here, too: the set opener is a rumbling, martial read of Lindsey Buckingham's "Don't Let Me Down Again," from the 1973 Buckingham/Nicks LP. Bill Hinds' slide guitar shines, as does Michael Graham's skittering organ. Thorn's voice is much lower and rougher than Buckingham's and unique in its phrasing, but he captures the song's intent and turns it on its head, its meaning no longer ambivalent, but pronounced. Another highlight is Thorn's read of Buddy & Julie Miller's "Shelter Me Lord," as a ferocious, roiling gospel blues with backing chorus vocals by the incomparable McRary Sisters (they are present throughout the set; check them on the closer, a rave-up on Eli "Paperboy" Reed's "Take Me with You"; they almost steal it). While the song always felt like a prayer, Thorn sounds desperate, like a man going down for the last time. The only thing that isn't quite up to snuff here is this version of Ray Wylie Hubbard's anthem "Snake Farm." It doesn't contain the grimy, raw sensuality of the original, but that's a small complaint from What the Hell Is Goin' On? On it, Thorn proves his ability to interpret great songs as well as write them.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/08/2012
Label:
Perpetual Obscurity
UPC:
0794504675825
catalogNumber:
467582
Rank:
4864

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Paul Thorn   Primary Artist,Guitar,Percussion,Vocals,Group Member
Kevin Welch   Background Vocals
Elvin Bishop   Guitar
Bob Britt   Background Vocals
Etta Britt   Background Vocals
Michael Graham   Organ,Piano,Group Member
McCrary Sisters   Background Vocals
Jeffrey Perkins   Percussion,Drums,Group Member
Bill Hinds   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Slide Guitar,Group Member
Ralph Friedrichsen   Bass,Background Vocals,Group Member
Danny Flowers   Background Vocals
Delaney McClinton   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Anderson   Composer
Elvin Bishop   Composer
Lindsey Buckingham   Composer
Rick Danko   Composer
Donnie Fritts   Composer
Pat McLaughlin   Composer
Bill Emerson   Composer
Ray Wylie Hubbard   Composer
Julie Miller   Composer
Shawn Camp   Composer
Michael Graham   Engineer
Ken Love   Mastering
Buddy Miller   Composer
Allen Toussaint   Composer
Billy Lawson   Composer
Charlie Barnwell   Composer
Charles Driebe   Management
Foy Vance   Composer
Eli "Paperboy" Reed   Composer
Sweet Tea   Producer
Martha Jo Emerson   Composer
Black Eye Pea   Producer

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