Monday, April 13, 2020

The Blasters release a blast from the past

The Blasters : Marie, Marie

In April of 1980 Rolling Rock Records released 2,000 copies of The Blasters debut album, American Music.The album contains a handful of originals ("Marie, Marie" and the title track being exceptional)  mixed in with covers by original artists like Willie Dixon, The Hollywood Flames and Jimmie Rodgers. 

 Raised in Downey, California brothers Dave and Phil Alvin were blues enthusiasts who got to meet T-Bone Walker, Joe Turner and Big Joe Williams. They played in various bands together until the mid-70's when they briefly gave up their dreams to pursue regular careers. Phil taught math at Colorado State College in Long Beach while Dave worked as a fry cook. When a new underground scene began happening in Los Angeles, the brothers reunited calling their band The Blasters. They played mostly covers, but the brothers were writing some rockabilly numbers that would become legendary.

Dave Alvin told BAM:

 "In the 70's there was nothing and the kids were just kind of lost. Then all of a sudden The Sex Pistols came along and all this energy came back into the scene that hadn't been there for years. We tried out punk rock, but it would be phony for us to be real punk rockers. We figured if we took the music we loved-country/blues and rockabilly-and put all the energy into that the Sex Pistols put into their music, that it would be just as modern today as it was in 1950.

Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the debut album a grade of B+, writing:

One of two bands cited as proof that L.A. punks aren't just bigots with mohawks (the other, the Go-Go's, has--gulp!--girls in it), these rock and rollers don't quite fit their rockabilly revivalist pigeonhole. Where the average Whitecat is so pencil-necked he can hardly hold up an acoustic bass, they have muscles, and where the average Rockin' Ronnie Weiser signing is a barely literate has-been who never really was, they have brains and potential. Or so songs like "Barn Burning" and, believe it or not, "American Music" lead one to believe. They do get that chickenshit Scotty Moore guitar sound right, though. With Ronnie at the boards, they don't have much choice.

Queen invited the band to open their 1980 American tour, much to the dismay of the British band's fans. Shakin' Stevens would take "Marie, Marie" into the UK Top 20 in October. In another year The Stray Cats would steal some of the Blasters' thunder as well. Both brothers remain creative contributors to the sound of American music.

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