Dave and Phil Alvin
Yep Roc Records
Where The Blues Meets Rock and Roll on a Rural Country Crossroads.
It’s well documented that the Alvin Brothers had a Sicilian style fall out that lasted years; until they made their peace on what may have been Phil’s death bed. Notoriously argumentative; they chose to record an album of Big Bill Broonzy standards as a compromise; but as I said at the time it was an opportunity missed.
Following their tour to celebrate Common Ground; they have put that wrong right by rushing into the studio, making an album of songs by people they both loved when growing up.
OOOOOHHHH; opening track Oscar Brown’s Mr. Kicks is a veritable doozy! Razor sharp guitar, Dave Alvin singing at his very best on a song that straddles the Blues and Country Rock – what’s not to like?
The whole album chugs along in a similar manner with Dave again sounding like he’s having a ball on Blind Boy Fuller’s Rattlesnakin’ Daddy, featuring Phil on harmonica so powerful it will make saxophones redundant.
Phil certainly doesn’t hide his light under a bushel; especially on Big Joe Turner’s racy Hide and Seek . There’s plenty of Rock n Roll titles hidden on a real humdinger of a dance tune; and I’m pretty sure everyone in the studio was dancing along on every take.
I’m a big Dave Alvin fan; but on this album I can finally see why even he claims big brother Phil is a great singer. On another Big Joe Turner cut; Wee Baby Blues Phil Alvin doesn’t just sound salacious as he tries to seduce a young lady but downright lustful; and ain’t that the way the Blues should be?
Obviously Dave is no slouch either and his reinterpretation of House of the Rising Sun (here called In New Orleans/Rising Sun Blues) is a toe-tapping Hillbilly dance tune; possibly it’s true Roots – who knows? But I love this and can picture a video in a Saloon bar full of Cowboys and full bosomed ladies as the band play their hearts out on the corner stage. (I have an active imagination).
When I saw the Alvin Brothers last year the highlight of the concert was Phil’s take on the James Brown classic, Please, Please, Please and here it is in all it’s lung busting glory! I can’t begin to imagine what this guy must have sounded like twenty years ago; but I thank the Lord he has finally entered my life at this late stage.
Speaking of which the album closes with the brothers performing a Country-Gospel duet, If You See My Saviour and it’s so good it could actually get me back to church if we had Pastors that sounded this good.
Some songs here are well known and others from the shadows; but the overall result is an unquestioning winner; combining every single strand of Americana music; throwing it in the air and making it their very own.
Released September 18th 2015