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Yep Roc (CDYEP2447)

Mister Kicks, World's In A Bad Condition, Cherry Red Blues, Rattlesnakin' Daddy, Hide And Seek, Papa's On The House Top, In New orleans (Rising Sun Blues), Please Please Please, Sit Down Baby, Wee Baby Blues, Feeling Happy, If You See My Saivor
Any prior knowledge of the history of Dave and Phil Alvin and you will no doubt concur with the sentiment of an album from them called Lost Time. Brothers who grew up in Los Angeles before forming The Blasters in 1979, fusing the spirit and energy of punk with their love of blues, R&B and rockabilly, they split acrimoniously in 1986 and didn’t record together (possibly didn’t even speak much) until joining forces again on 2014’s Common Ground. This album was a tribute to a shared love of the music of Big Bill Broonzy, earning them a Grammy nomination.

Having clearly enjoyed, and been encouraged by the experience of playing together again, and having seemingly overcome any issues between them, they follow up Common Ground here with another scintillating album of cover versions, tipping their proverbial hats to artists they revered while growing up together.

The opening track, a version of Oscar Brown Jr's Mister Kicks, sets the tone for the album with a return to Blasters-like rocking, featuring snarling guitar licks, great lyrics and a kick-ass band. Other artists who gets the brother’s nod of appreciation across the 12 tracks contained herein are James Brown, Leadbelly, Leroy Carr, Willie Dixon, Blind Boy Fuller and especially Big Joe Turner.

Aside from a broader range of tributes paid here, this album also differs from Common Ground in that the earlier album was mostly an acoustic set. Here there is a good deal more rocking going on and the live-in-the-studio feel to much of the album only hints at how tremendous it would be to now catch them live.

By and large, the tribute to the artists chosen does not typically extend to faithfully trying to replicate the styles and approaches of their heroes. While respectful, these versions have been created very much in Dave and Phil's own style. On Willie Dixon's Sit Down Baby, they even tweak the lyrics a little while creating an intoxicating swamp blues concoction some distance away from the Otis Rush recording for Cobra that this song is mostly associated with. The closer, a version of Rev. Thomas A Dorsey’s gospel classic If You See My Savior even introduces a delightful countrified swing to proceedings not heard elsewhere on the album but an inspired way to close out what is a thoroughly satisfying set.

We can only hope that Dave and Phil are now permanently on good terms and that they continue to make albums as enjoyable as this on a regular basis. Even if they  don't, we cans till be thankful for this little belter. 

Review Date: October 2015

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