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The Blasters - Fun On Saturday Night

Rip Cat Records

12 tracks

Over 30 years have passed since the original Blasters came on the scene. In the 1980's they defined a big part of the LA music sound. The band has continued to exist in various formats and levels of success since their heyday, but this new album marks somewhat of a renaissance for them. Led by Phil Alvin on guitar, piano, harp and lead vocals, they also are staffed by Keith Wyatt on guitar, John Bazz on bass and backing vocals and Bill Bateman on drums. Eddie Nichols and Jeff Neal add backing vocals, Kid Ramos adds flavor on the 12-string bajo sexto guitar and Exene Cervenka sharing the lead vocals on Jackson.

Phil Alvin approached Scott Abeyta, friend and owner of Rip Cat Records, that he was planning a Blasters tour and needed a new CD to sell to their fans. Phil and Scott got into it and produced this album together in a hands on and loving manner. The Blasters are perhaps more bluesy here, but still blend swing, country, New Orleans and Memhis R&B, Tex-Mex and other forms into a high powered blend of really great new songs and covers.

The title cut is a bold and brazen rocking romp with gritty shouted vocals, a driving guitar lead and big monster beat. Old style swing here- a mere 2:12 like an old-fashioned Jerry Lee Lewis tune. "I Don't Want Cha" takes more of that approach while "Penny" takes it down a bit in tempo, with a big, evil bass vocal telling Penny, 'you shouldn't do the things you do."

Sonny Boy Williamson's "No More Nights by Myself" is soulfully covered. "Love Me With a Feeling" gets a very cool rock-a-billy work over- I really like it when artists take something to another level like this, taking Magic Sam's great tune and creating something new. Tiny Bradshaw's "Well Oh Well" is a swinging opener for the CD, and it's jives and bounces nicely. Alvin shows some diversity with "Maria Maria", a Dave Alvin south of the border tune that he pulls of nicely with Kid Ramos' help. "Please Please Please" is a pleading and gutsy vocal by Alvin that is a great period piece yet sounds fresh. The cover of "Jackson" was right out of Nashville; my only tiny complaint for the whole CD would be here- Alvin does not try to be Johnny Cash but Cervenka seems to try to be too much like June Carter Cash. This is a minor complaint- the guitar work here more than makes up for this. "The Yodeling Mountaineer" is fun and show Alvin is still able to sing whatever style he sets his mind to.

Overall, it is good to see these guys with their feathers bristled up and ready to rock. Alvin's vocals are excellent throughout, the fret work is great and the overall sound is crisp and tight. If the Blasters were "gone" I would have to say that based on this CD that they are certainly back and sounding damn good! 

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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