Loving brothersblast from the past
From near death has sprung a new lease of life. Phil’s return from the brink after illness several years ago brought the brothers Alvin closer than they had been for more than 30 years, despite the high-octane Blasters reunion tour early this century.
Last year’s COMMON GROUND album saw them working as a duo for the first time, getting a Grammy nomination for their troubles, and even touring Britain together. That rootsy, rip-roaring album, celebrating the songs of Big Bill Broonzy that they had grown up on was a marvel. And LOST TIME is more of, if not the same, then from the same highway that unites what the Blasterstune deified asAmerican Music-a bar room coming together of blues and country.
There’s been no attempt to reignite the Blasters – perhaps too many memories -but the feeling is there on another collection of venerable covers. Big Bill’s been done and here the brothers turn their attention to Big Joe – Turner, that is. Along with other inspirational artists such as Lead Belly and James Brown, bringing them together in a rocking, rolling, finger-picked party.
There’s again an exq uisite band, based around Dave’s Guilty Men outfit, an LA-Austin-Nashville mix – drummer Lisa Pankratz, bassist Brad Fordham, guitarist Chris Miller – and including original Blaster Gene Taylor of piano. Phil’s high wire vocals are as razor sharp as ever, on numbers such as Turner’s Wee Baby Blues, his harmonica wailing as it ever did on Willie Dixon’s Wee Baby Blues, while Dave goes his own smokey way, bringing new life to even House Of The Rising Sun – here going by its early title In New Orleans (Rising Sun Blues). Both tackle songs individually, occasionally
…But with the brothers making up for lost time we should simply appreciate the wonder of their new-found togetherness…
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin LOST TIME, reviewed by Nick Dalton harmonising (as on the reflective finale If You See My Savior), with Dave’s blistering guitar slicing through the acoustic-based playing.
Listen to Phil’s angst-ridden grandeur on James Brown’s Please Please Please for something that could have been a Blasters track. The pair have the innate understanding of that band’s greatest days and if there’s one regret it is that there aren’t any new songs. But with the brothers making up for lost time we should simply appreciate the wonder of their new-found togetherness. Nick Dalton