Trouble Boundby The Blasters
While the original lineup of the Blasters made more than their share of great records, their rocket-powered blend of rockabilly, blues, country, and any anything else that sounds good in a roadhouse on a Saturday night was always meant to be experienced in person, live and loud. However, the Blasters' sole live release, the six-song EP Over There: Live at the Venue, London, simply lacked the space to communicate the many good things the group could do in front of an audience. Fortunately, in the spring of 2002 the original Blasters lineup -- Phil Alvin on guitar and vocals, Dave Alvin on lead guitar, John Bazz on bass, and Bill Bateman on drums -- reassembled for a handful of California shows to promote the retrospective release Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings (1981-1985), and someone had the good sense to record their shows at the Hollywood House of Blues. Trouble Bound (in which the foursome are joined by pianist Gene Taylor, who joined the group shortly before they cut The Blasters in 1981) doesn't exactly break any new ground for the Blasters, but it sure does a hell of a job of capturing what they do best -- even the relatively understated numbers like "Help You Dream" and "Too Tired" sizzle with energy, and when they open up the throttle on "Long White Cadillac," "So Long Baby Goodbye," and "Marie, Marie," they sound muscular, impassioned, and joyously alive. Engineer Mark Linett does a great job of getting the band's sound on tape with a very live ambience that still sounds tight and punchy, and the dedication to friend, influence, and sometime bandmate Lee Allen is a true sign of class. In short, Trouble Bound is the great live album this great live band has long deserved, and the fact that they cut it 16 years after they last shared a stage together simply proves that the right ingredients are what make a great recipe work.
- Release Date:
- Hightone Records
Performance CreditsBlasters Primary Artist
Dave Alvin Guitar
Phil Alvin Harmonica,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals
Gene Taylor Piano
Bill Bateman Drums
John Bazz Bass
Technical CreditsDave Alvin Composer
Jerry Leiber Composer
Mark Linett Producer,Engineer
Mike Stoller Composer
Greg Lewerke Executive Producer
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Reuniting a band whose 1980s hey-day was already a throw-back to decades-earlier R&B makes for a complicated timeline. The chronological jumble is further muddied by the working version of the band that's been on the road ever since this original line-up gave up the ghost. Amazingly, this reincarnation of the band's original lineup sounds as fresh as the day they broke out of Downey, California -- their rock 'n' roll licks as powerful as the sources from which they're drawn. With so many backward glances, one might expect these shows to be little more than a nostalgia fest, but the Blasters shake off any yearning for the past to keep their rock 'n' roll hearts vital and beating strongly in the present. ¶ Guitarist and songwriter Dave Alvin split from the band after 1985's "Hard Line" to pursue a successful solo career as a roots-folk-country-rock troubadour. Big brother Phil has continued to take a variation of the Blasters on the road (in between working on his graduate math degrees!), and dropped a pair own solo albums of his own. The Alvins' solo work has shown the brother's individual talents to great effect, but neither has benefited from the creative tension they spark as a pair. Even the revised Blasters road line-up (swapping Greg Hormel for Dave Alvin), with Phil's lead-singing and Dave's songs intact, never fully captured the essence of the original band. ¶ Reunited for a pair of shows at Los Angeles' House of Blues, the original line-up (including Bill Bateman on drums, John Bazz on bass, and Gene Taylor on piano) fire on all cylinders, offering up many Blasters' classics, including landmark tunes from Dave Alvin's catalog ("American Music" "Marie Marie" "Long White Cadillac" "So Long Baby Goodbye"), and expertly picked covers, including Harold Burrage's "Cryin for My Baby," Little Willie John's "I'm Shakin," and Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Too Tired." Both Alvin's are in top form, with Phil's voice a blues-soaked wail, and Dave's lead guitar raging away with intensity throughout. ¶ Previous official issues have contained concert tracks (notably 1982's "Over There: Live at the Venue, London," and the recently issued "Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings"), but this is the first CD to show off the full-fire of the original band's live show. It's a blessing that the Alvins were able to (temporarily, perhaps) overcome their brotherly animosity long enough to play these dates. The seventeen tracks perfectly capture what was so exciting about the Blasters in the first place, and, even more impressively, what's still exciting about them today. This is earnest, sweaty, gut-wrenching rock 'n' roll, in the same league as its influences.
"I'm old enough to know the score . . . but I'm young enough to want more, more, more" - - (from "Trouble Bound"). The Blasters left a lot of us wanting more, as they blasted into our consciousness in 1980 and disbanded in 1985. This reunion album is a must have for fans of this great American Music/Rockin' Rhythm and Blues band.