The Blasters

The Blasters

:"For others with this name, see Blasters."The Blasters are a rock and roll music group formed in 1979 in Downey, California by brothers Phil Alvin (vocals and guitar) and Dave Alvin (guitar), with bass guitarist John Bazz and drummer Bill Bateman. Phil Alvin explained the origin of the band's name: "I thought Joe Turner’s backup band on Atlantic records – I had these 78s – I thought they were the Blues Blasters. That ends up it was Jimmy McCracklin. I just took the 'Blues' off and Joe finally told me, that’s Jimmy McCracklin’s name, but you tell ‘im I gave you permission to steal it." [ [ phil alvin interview ] ]

Their self-described "American Music" was a blend of blues music, rockabilly, early rock and roll, punk rock, mountain music, and rhythm and blues. They have a devoted fan base and have received largely positive critical reviews, but have earned only limited mainstream success. Critic Mark Deming wrote of them, "the Blasters displayed a wide-ranging musical diversity [and] were a supremely tight and tasteful band with enough fire, smarts, and passion for two or three groups." [ [ allmusic ((( Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings (1981-1985) > Overview ))) ] ]

Band history

The Alvin brothers had an early interest in blues music, and attended concerts by T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner and others, sometimes jamming and reminiscing with the musicians. Phil Alvin remembers that his mother would take him backstage to get harmonica lessons from Sonny Terry when Phil was still a boy. Rhythm and Blues saxophone legend Lee Allen joined The Blasters for two albums and toured with the original line up until his death in 1994. Steve Berlin (later of Los Lobos) joined, playing baritone sax, and Gene Taylor joined as well, performing boogie woogie style piano.

The Blasters' energetic live performances gained a local following, and they became fixtures of the early 1980s Los Angeles punk rock scene, performing alongside X, Black Flag, The Gun Club and others. Former Black Flag singer and current Rollins Band leader Henry Rollins wrote of the Blasters, "In my mind, they were a great band that not enough people found out about. Bill Bateman is one of the best drummers there is, and then of course, there are the Alvin brothers. A lot of talent for one band." (Rollins, 36)

The Blasters toured almost continuously for much of their existence. The notes for "The Blasters Collection" report that in one particular month, they toured with psychobilly pioneers The Cramps, with western swing revivalists Asleep at the Wheel and on a leg of Queen's west coast tour. The Blasters gave boosts to both Los Lobos and Dwight Yoakam by inviting them on tour; Yoakam would later score a modest hit with his version of Dave Alvin's "Long White Cadillac". The Blasters also gained more exposure in the Walter Hill film "Streets of Fire", performing two songs for the soundtrack and appearing as themselves in the film. The Blasters song "Dark Night" was featured in a 1985 episode of Miami Vice, and the 1996 Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez collaboration "From Dusk Till Dawn".

Dave Alvin--always the group's primary songwriter--left the band in 1986 for a critically acclaimed if sometimes only moderately successful solo career. Phil Alvin has led various incarnations of The Blasters intermittently since then, including a few reunion tours and live albums of the original line up. Personnel as of 2008 is Phil Alvin together with John Bazz, Keith Wyatt, and Bill Batemen [] .


Albums by the "original" Blasters:
* "American Music" (1979)
* "The Blasters" (1981)
* "Over There" (live EP) (1982)
* "Non-Fiction" (1983)
* "Hard Line" (1985)
* "The Blasters Collection" (1xCD Best Of) (1990)
* "Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings" (2xCD Anthology) (2002)
* "Trouble Bound" (live) (2002)
* "Going Home" (live) (2004)

Albums by current line-up:

* "4-11-44" (2005)



*Henry Rollins; Get In The Van: On The Road With Black Flag; 2.13.61 Publications, 1994, ISBN 1-880985-23-3

External links

* [ The Blasters Homepage]
* [ A Testament to The Blasters]
* [ Phil Alvin Bakersfield Interview]

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