Wednesday, September 30, 2015


No less an authority than Benjamin Franklin told us "Lost time is never found again."  Bob Dylan appropriated that as the kicker line for his Basement Tapes number Odds and Ends: "Lost time is not found again."  The Brothers Alvin finally figured out what it meant in 2014, releasing the album Common Ground, their first collaboration since Dave quit The Blasters back in 1986.  Now they are moving to make up that lost time, releasing a second disc a year later.

Common Ground was a tribute to Big Bill Broonzy, a shared love of the brothers and something easy to work on for a new beginning.  This set is made of covers as well, but a more varied lot.  The young Alvins met and mentored with Big Joe Turner, and do four of his numbers.  There's a version of the Rising Sun Blues, the more traditional take on House of the Rising Sun, a fun cover of James Brown's Please, Please, Please, and the somewhat obscure old blues tune Papa's on the House Top.

On the more electric side, there's a strong boogie version of Otis Rush's Sit Down, Baby, Dave Alvin's guitar taking some stinging leads between the verses.  Phil's vocals are a major part of the formula, with lots of comfort and passion.  Both brothers know how to perform with intensity, but never to the point of histrionics.  They also show a hitherto unexplored connection between folk, traditional, jump and electric blues:  I believe it's called the groove.  No more fights please, brothers.

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