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Published: 2004/03/30
by Scott Medvin

Live: Going Home – The Blasters

Shout! Factory 30244

I often wonder how the editors at divvie up their load of
promotional CDs each month. I say this because this is the second month in a
row I’m listening to the reunion record from a somewhat obscure twenty-year old band. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you. There’s no
better way to get exposed to new music than to have it arrive unannounced in
your mailbox one afternoon. Which is exactly what happened with the Live:
Going Home from the Blasters, the audio document of a show in California
last August that was also recorded and released as the band’s first DVD.

The group came to be when guitar-playing brothers Phil and Dave Alvin
recruited bassist John Bazz and drummer Bill Bateman to play rock ‘n’ roll
in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis and early Elvis Presley: swinging back
beats, heavy blues influence, and shallow lyrics of love. Their debut album,
American Music, was released in 1980. A pair of saxophonists was
added for a follow-up record the next year. The band’s rockabilly sound and
short, to-the-point songs were accepted by the California punk community,
who apparently kept this rather mediocre band from looking for day jobs.
Over the next decade line-up changes and extended sabbaticals changed the
band to a point barely recognizable, and the original Blasters disappeared
long before grunge came into vogue, though a band with the name that played
some of the same songs had played some gigs here and there. Maybe it’s just
me, but when one of the founding members of a band quits to pursue his
master’s thesis in mathematics, it’s a sure sign that the band’s done.

Why release this album then, fifteen years after Phil Alvin joined his
brother in pursuing other interests? I guess that the band wanted to
document their reunion for everybody who considered themselves a fan at some
point in the last 25 years. A noble idea, and though the Alvin brothers’
blues pedigree is pretty impressive – they were weaned on Junior Wells,
Buddy Guy, Albert King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and T-Bone Walker – if you like
real deal blues, then go and listen to those guys rather than wasting your
money and time on this watered-down record. If you’re an old-school fan of
the Blasters – and I’m sure that there are some out there – than this
album’s for you.

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