First Appeared at The Music Box, November 2002, Volume 9, #11
Written by John Metzger
During the first half of the í80s, The Blasters took the L.A. punk scene by storm, often teaming up with local favorites X. Not that The Blasters was a punk band. Instead, the group infused its í50s-style rock and rockabilly songs with a raging intensity. This helped to give roots-rock new life, and The Blasters, along with groups like The Knitters, Rank & File, and The Mekons, paved the way for the cowpunk of Chicagoís Bloodshot Records.
Earlier this year, Dave Alvin took time off from his solo career to reunite with his brother Phil and the rest of original members of The Blasters for a brief tour that included stops at Los Angelesí House of Blues. The resulting album Trouble Bound is structured much like the groupís set lists from these performances, and it shows that despite the passage of time, the band hasnít lost its edge. Drummer Bill Bateman, guitarist Phil Alvin, and bassist John Bazz drive the songs with their steady, rolling rhythm, and Gene Taylor paints the corners with his New Orleans-inflected piano style ó occasionally coming to the forefront on songs like Blue Shadows. Itís Dave Alvin, however, who most often pushes the tunes over the edge. For certain, each selection is a powder keg of early rock ínĎ roll, ignited by a firestorm of electricity that shoots from the strings of Dave Alvinís guitar. As he rips into his solo on Long White Cadillac, one can hear the energy level rise exponentially within the rest of the band.
Itís exactly this raw power and brute force that first set The Blasters apart from the other roots-rock outfits to emerge in the early í80s. And itís this same awe-inspiring intensity that has kept interest in them alive more than twenty years later. The bandís entire studio catalog is now available, thanks to reissues by the Rhino and HighTone labels, but The Blasters were most successful in a live format. Other than a six song EP released in 1982, however, the group had never put out a concert recording. At long last, Trouble Bound rectifies this glaring deficiency, and in the process, it adds on to The Blastersí legacy.
Trouble Bound is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box