Buy Common Ground: Dave & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy from Amazon
Album Review: Common Ground: Dave & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy by Dave Alvin
Excellent, Based on 3 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Blasters founders Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin have had a famously combative relationship over the years, but as Dave once said, "We argue sometimes, but we never argue about Big Bill Broonzy. " So it's fitting that their love of Big Bill brings them together in the recording studio for their first album together since the Blasters' Hard Line in 1985. Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play & Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy features the Alvin Brothers performing a dozen songs from the Broonzy songbook, and while listening to this is a potent reminder of how good Broonzy's songs still sound in the 21st century, it also demonstrates the complementary talents of Dave and Phil Alvin.
Like sibling musicians throughout history, be it the Everlys, the Davies or the Gallaghers, Dave and Phil Alvin have been known to let a difference of opinion derail them from a common goal. Dave, however, is succinct in his reasoning as to how the brothers made their first full album together in almost 30 years: “We argue sometimes, but we never argue about Big Bill Broonzy. ” On the surface, Broonzy’s formative country blues and even the more urban hues of his later, tougher output never appeared to be a great influence on the Alvin boys’ full-throttle saloon rock in their days leading The Blasters, though the tints, shades and spaces of the great man’s catalogue clearly informed much of Dave’s subsequent solo work that cast a wider net across Americana.
Big Bill Broonzy may take center stage, but the real headline here is that Common Ground marks the first full length recording by brothers Dave and Phil Alvin in 30 years. Charter members of the Blasters, one of the dominant L.A. bands of the early ‘80s, the two followed the usual route pursued by rock ‘n’ roll siblings – they fought, tore their bond asunder and refused to work together despite sharing the inherent advantages that accompany family ties.