Style: Oldies Rock & Rockabilly
Sounds Like: Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis
"One Word" Review: Country-Vocal-Ruined Rock-a-oldies.
Based Out Of: California
Label: Slash, Warner Bros Records, WEA International
- Marie Marie (2:06) (Sample)
- No Other Girl (2:32) (Sample)
- I'm Shakin' (2.24) (Sample)
- Border Radio (2:42) (Sample)
- American Music (2:14) (Sample)
- So Long Baby, Goodbye (2:22) (Sample)/
- Hollywood Bed (3:31) (Sample)
- Never No Mo' Blues (2:52) (Sample)
- This Is It (2:11) (Sample)
- Highway 61 (3:02) (Sample)
- I Love You So (2:51) (Sample)
- Stop the Clock (2:02) (Sample)
Members and Other Bands:Phil Alvin - Vox, Guitars, Harmonica
Dave Alvin - Guitars (Dollar Store)
John Bazz - Bass
Bill Bateman - Drums
Lee Allen - Sax
Steve Berlin - Sax (Los Lobos)
Gene Taylor - Piano
Gustav Alsina – cover design
Gary Leonard - Photos
Steve Bartel - Art Design
Roger Harris - Engineer
Pat Burnette - Engineer
David Ahlert - Second Engineer
J Ruby Productions - Packaging
Shelly Heber - Manager / Agent
Unknown-ness: I thought I had heard of the is band, but I've not. The cover art looked very interesting, and a powerful name (and logo) like the Blasters, and a production date of 1981, I was expecting a high energy, new wave or punk record.
Album Review: The first time I heard this tape, I hated it. The second time I listened to it, I hated it again, but perhaps a little less. I kept listening to it and now, although there are some elements that I appreciate, I still find it somewhat unlistenable. Although the music is good, I find his high, squeaky voice very irritating most of the time. And as I've said before the voice is what makes or breaks a band for me.
"Marie Marie" is the first song, and it has a great rock n' roll beat, and classic oldies guitar solos, but his voice sounds like a whiny pubescent-breaking pathetic man. "No Other Girl" sounds like a great Elvis Presley record. The vocals begin normal enough and do not get too out of hand, but still, there are cringe-worthy moments where it seems it will break too far. The rockabilly bass and honky-tonk piano are really good, and really save the song. I cannot stand the bluesy "I'm Shaking." The cat-like-strut of the bass, drums and sax is something that makes me shiver with annoyance almost as much as I get from "Personal Jesus'" bass line. The vocal quality of his gospel chant of 'I'm Shakin' is very irritating. "Border Radio" is a slowed up version of "Brown Eyed Handsome Man." The vocals are somewhat steady in this tune, and the result is a good oldies, radio friendly song. "American Music" is a quick paced, bouncy country swing song. It borrows song construction from Chuck Berry's "Rock N' Roll Music." "So Long Baby Good Bye" is another oldies-rockabilly-country song, where the singer is crying in his annoying country crooning whine. The brass is really good though, it actually sounds like a harmonica (perhaps there is one buried under there too).
"Hollywood Bed" is a piano based country song, that is perhaps the best example of the high pitch annoying vocal styles, most prevalent in his "Hey-Hey-Hee" & "Who-Who-Who-Wee" vocal bridges. The drums are a quick march, like machine-gun fire. The bass trips up and down, and the music recreates the image of a rag time saloon. The song fades out without vocals, and the next be-boppin' rockabilly song "Never No Mo' Blues" comes on, with the most irritating feature being the vocals. But this time, they go from bad to worse, as he adds yodelling into his arsenal of grating effects. "This Is It" is a Jerry Lee Lewis rocking song. I figured out the most annoying aspect of the vocals: his little upturns in pitch at the end of every line. It is that which I detest about this and country music as well. "Highway 61" is a bluesy bounce full on with harmonica filling in the gaps behind and between the lyrics. He sounds like Mississippi Gary from "Kids In The Hall," but somehow, worse because it is not for comedy. "I Love You So" rocks out at first with guitars, then adds shaking maraca, and a bouncy bass line. I'm just gonna ignore the vocals. Or try to at least. A tick-tocking wood block starts the final song "Stop the Clock," which carries the same melody as "Whole Lotta Shaking Goin' On." Again the song blends the great qualities of oldies and rockabilly.
So without continuing to be harsh about the vocals, I will focus on the music, which upon further review, is fantastic. The authentic oldies and musical structures belong in the late 50's. I've read it in many reviews, and I can agree that they take many elements of old music, and rebirthed them as if just discovering the new time signatures to make new Rock N' Roll.
Stand Out Track:
No Other Girl
Blasters Album Wikipedia
Phil Alvin interview 2004
Dave Alvin Page
Blasters on Trouserpress
Blasters Interview Pop Matters
Cover Art Gallery Page
shoutfactory: the blasters