The Blasters

REVIEW: The Blasters “The Best of The Blasters – Mandatory”


The Blasters – The Best of The Blasters – Mandatory

Formed in 1979 this retro-creative-original band was just a marvelous slice of Americana that was jet-fueled. Many bands were oldie-oriented & tried sounding like yesterday whereas The Blasters were retro-fitted & sounded like yesterday as it is still today.

I was there when it first happened & that was a wild ride. The radio stations were playing classic rock, disco, or punk with a little new wave. Then along came Robert Gordon, Brian Setzer & the motherlode –the masterful work of these guys – The Blasters. My ears had to go to the dentist. There were so many blissful cavities in my ear drums.

There are 21 cuts on this Blasters-produced compilation with help from Antone DeSantis & Arny Schorr. It’s a major reissue deal. The Best of The Blasters – Mandatory (Drops Nov 3–Liberation Hall/64:00) is a set that’s addictive. Every track is familiar, catchy & still packs a punch. I’m not concerned about Blasters fans finding this cache to satisfy their habit — but those who are unfamiliar with this music may not be in shape to withstand the elixir that will assault their senses.

The set starts with a classic boogie-woogie “American Music,” from the first Slash LP. Then tighten your seatbelt for “Marie Marie” & the masterful “So Long Baby, Goodbye.” There’s a hint at how respected this band was when Elvis’ original backup vocalists The Jordanaires show up on 2 great tracks. David Hidalgo from Los Lobos & Tom Waits, then the late Larry Taylor from Canned Heat, John Mayall & Tom Waits & Richard Greene (Seatrain & The Blues Project) on violin.

The LP is loaded with substantial swipes at what gave rock its roll. The vocalists know the genre & there is no grandstanding or imitation (it wasn’t needed). As old as this musical style was the songs were rendered with sincere aplomb & a dynamic recreation.

However, from the upbeat danceable tunes of that first album all the way to the classic film “From Dusk Til’ Dawn,” the inclusion of “Dark Night,” was a winning stretch. The delightful “Little Honey,” covered by several artists including Kelly Willis was also a beauty.

Highlights – “American Music,” “Marie Marie,” “I’m Shakin’” “Border Radio,” “So Long Baby, Goodbye,” “Hollywood Bed,” “Trouble Bound,” “Dark Night,” “Little Honey,” the superb “Help You Dream,” “Common Man” & the piano smoking “Kathleen.”

Musicians – Phil Alvin (vocals/guitar/harmonica), Dave Alvin (lead guitar), John Bazz (bass), Bill Bateman (drums), Gene Taylor (piano), Lee Allen (tenor sax), Steve Berlin (baritone sax) with special guests The Jordanaires (bgv), Stan Lynch (percussion), David Hidalgo (mandolin), Larry Taylor (standup bass), Richard Greene (violin), Herman Johnson & Bobby King (bgv).

Front CD cover courtesy Ed Colver. CD @ Amazon + &

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