Dave Alvin and Phil AlvinLost Time(Yep Roc)Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars The title of the Alvin brothers’ follow-up to their Grammy-nominated 2014 Common Ground reunion project that found them working together for the first time in 30 years is multi-faceted and bittersweet. Clearly they are trying to make up for that lost time after not working together since Dave amicably left the Blasters in 1987. But more than that, these dozen covers are predominantly tunes that were also lost to time.
It took a brush with death to get Dave and Phil Alvin back on good enough terms to make music together again, and after reuniting in the studio for 2014's Common Ground: Dave & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy, the siblings thankfully didn't wait until one of them ended up in the emergency room to give it another try. Lost Time is another set of vintage blues tunes, but while Common Ground was an acoustic set that focused on the songbook of blues legend Broonzy, the Alvins mix it up on Lost Time, playing both electric and acoustic numbers and drawing inspiration from a variety of artists and songwriters, though rollicking jump blues master Big Joe Turner gets special attention here, with Dave and Phil tackling three of his compositions. Dave's raucous guitar lines give their Turner interpretations a feel that's different than the originals, but Dave and the band show plenty of love for the joyous, rolling boogie of Turner's signature sound, and Phil's big, bold voice is the perfect instrument for tunes like "Feeling Happy" and "Cherry Red Blues.
Brothers Dave and Phil Alvin continue to make up for the 30 years they spent apart after the breakup of the Blasters by releasing their second album of blues-based rock in two years. While 2014’s album focused on the work of Big Bill Broonzy, Lost Time features several songs by Big Joe Turner as well as tracks by Leadbelly, Blind Boy Fuller, and other aces. The variety of material makes this disc even better than last year’s Best Blues Album Grammy nominee, or maybe it’s just because the duo have become more comfortable performing together? Whatever the reason, the pleasures of the new record are broad and deep.
Having sunk their sibling differences for last year’s Common Ground, where they dusted off a set of Big Bill Broonzy classics, this time round Dave and Phil dig deeper with cuts originally recorded by James Brown, Blind Boy Fuller, Willie Dixon and Leroy Carr, four from mentor Big Joe Turner, and Mr Traditional’s In New Orleans (Rising Sun Blues), restored here to a deliciously jolly acoustic setting. With the old-time guitars and air-tight rhythm section nuzzling alongside harmonica, their version of Sit Down, Baby matches Otis Rush for impact and menace, but there’s revivalist salvation at hand on Thomas Dorsey’s If You See My Savior, so the devil doesn’t get all the best tunes. You’re getting some education here too, because Carr’s salacious Papa’s On The House Top doesn’t get an airing very often, and Tampa Red’s World’s In A Bad Condition hits the nail firmly on the head.
Dave and Phil Alvin became as well known for their tempestuous relationship as for their music. In 1979 they founded the classic Los Angeles band the Blasters, mixing punk energy with blues and rockabilly, but Dave quit in 1986, and the brothers didn’t record an album together until last year, when their tribute to Big Bill Broonzy won a Grammy nomination. This rousing and well-chosen set revives songs from other artists they admired as teenagers, and begins with Oscar Brown Jr’s Mister Kicks, with its memorable opening line, sung by the devil’s envoy – “Permit me to introduce myself” – which clearly impressed Mick Jagger.
Henry Yates on new releases from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Malted Milk & Toni Green, Geoff Everett, Erja Lyytinen and Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Call it a happy accident. When Colorado folkie Nathaniel Rateliff came off the road from 2013’s strummy Falling Faster Than You Can Run, he started writing tooth-rattling, throat-shredding soul cuts “just for the hell of it”. Eleven songs later, he had a set strong enough for Stax to pick it up.