|The Blasters - Live: Going Home|
|Music Disc Reviews DVD-Audio|
|Written by Jeff Fish|
|Tuesday, 25 January 2005|
In 2002, Dave Alvin decided that he wanted to have a musical family reunion. The result of that was a string of “20 or so incendiary gigs” (according to Alvin), with the real Blasters playing together for the first time in 16 years. This was all capped by a night on August 13, 2003 at the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana, California. This is the resulting recording of that night. Having never been a huge Blasters fan in the past, I had to approach this review with a brand new set of ears. While some of my preconceived notions may have been justified, I also felt a great deal more respect for them than I did previously.
I’m very impressed by the level of musicianship that The Blasters possess. This is one very good and very tight band; it’s obvious throughout this recording that they are having a good time and enjoy what they do. With the five extra songs on this release, you get the entire concert, with special appearances by Sunny Burgess and Billy Boy Arnold, as well as the surviving members of The Calvanes and The Medallions. If you’re a Blasters fan, you’ll need to own this release. The energy just pours out of each speaker throughout this recording.
The mix is set up to sound like you’re sitting right at the mixing console. The surround speakers act mostly like the back of a club where you might go see this band. If this recording does the band any justice at all (which I think it does), The Blasters would be one fun band to go see play live. Alvin’s lead guitar work throughout this recording is very impressive. The Blasters fit perfectly in that category of music called Americana. There is a lot of rockabilly in their music, as well as a lot of blues. But you can’t really categorize them into one little easy area. Alvin’s skill at playing fast intricate passages on guitar is really very impressive. Most of these songs clock in at something less than four minutes, but there are several songs towards the end of the night that clocked in a little longer, especially “Flip Flop & Fly.” The only reservation I have with this type of rock and roll is the similarity all of the songs have towards one another. This is where I had most of my problems. There is nothing wrong with any of the performances or in any of the songs themselves. I would just rather have a little more variety than I feel this release has. The feeling that both me and my best friend had about this recording was that we would both rather see The Blasters live. The execution of the material is excellent; it’s just that the songs started sounding a little too similar from one to another.
All that being said, the energy of this show transfers over well to the DVD-A format. This release will be a must for any fan of rockabilly, hard fast blues and even early punk rock. With tons of energy, fast/loud guitars and Alvin’s distinctive vocals, The Blasters haven’t really been know for their subtlety in the past, so why start now? The show starts off with three fast rockers: “Marie Marie”, “Real Rock Drive” and “One Red Rose,” all within nine minutes and all Blasters, all the time. Yet halfway through the first song, you know you’re in familiar territory. My favorite songs on the album for me are “Crazy Baby,” “Border Radio,” “Don’t You Lie to Me,” “J.B. Lenoir Jam” and “All Your Love.” O this last, Alvin’s guitar soars while the rest of his bandmates provide this very cool groove. If you’re a fan or were wondering what would be a good introduction to The Blasters, I think this release would be great. The Blasters know how to rock and they do it well, if you like it that way.