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Dave Alvin - Blue Boulevard/Museum of Heart

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 26 / 6 / 2012



Dave Alvin - Blue Boulevard/Museum of Heart
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD

intro

First-rate blue collar rock on double CD reissue of underrated Californian-based singer-songwriter Dave Alvin’s 1991 and 1993 albums, ‘Blue Boulevard’ and ‘Museum of Heart’


It is kind of fitting that Retroworld should reissue Dave Alvin’s Hightone albums; the label recently reissued the Blasters’ ‘American Music / Trouble Bound’ double set (the band Alvin started with his brother Phil). and the label have also done the same job with Buddy Miller, another musician who has been around for decades and who is only just now receiving the acclaim he should have had years ago. At first look it would appear that Retroworld haven’t exactly pushed the boat out with their reissue series. There are no bonus tracks, no new essays and it is unclear if the albums have been remastered; they are just presented with original artwork, one disc per album and the original sleeve notes/lyrics. But when you can pick up any one of these double CD sets for a lot less than a tenner it all makes sense; it’s an excellent way for new converts to pick up the back catalogue and a cheap way in for those curious but yet to take the step into waters unknown. One of life’s mysteries is why Dave Alvin isn’t better known. Alvin, despite being known in certain circles and the Blasters always getting positive reviews and an ever increasing fan base, has never been given the credit he deserves. The opening song, and title track, on ‘Blue Boulevard’ is typical Alvin; blue-collar rock that had it been written and performed by Bruce Springsteen would have been blasting out of radios at the time. But perhaps the most amazing thing about the song is that it was originally released way back in 1991 and still sounds fresh and exciting today. Alvin has Springsteen’s way of telling stories within his songs and executes them with enough passion to bring his characters to life, as ‘Guilty Man’ from the same album shows, that he must get frustrated that his work isn’t appreciated by a much wider audience. It’s ironic that Alvin’s most acclaimed solo album so far is the Grammy winning ‘Public Domain’, the title of which speaks for itself when Alvin has composed such touching songs as ‘Why Did She Stay With Him?’ which is featured on ‘Blue Boulevard’. While Alvin has always been known and admired for his rockier songs, and boy can he rock when he wants to, his songs where he displays a gentler side have always been underrated. ‘Gospel Night’, another song where the title says it all really, shows a side to Alvin that rarely gets noticed, the soulfulness displayed not only in his vocals but also in the arrangement of the song is breathtaking and shows his versatility to perfection. The laid-back groove of ‘Plastic Rose’ that follows again shows that you never know what to expect from Alvin; that he can embrace so many different styles and always come out on top is just one indication of the immense talent of the man. As would be expected with two albums originally released just two years apart there is little to differentiate between ‘Blue Boulevard’ and 1993’s ‘Museum Of Heart’. Again Alvin flits from rockers to ballads not once depriving the song of a solid melody and interesting lyrics. ‘Don’t Talk About Her’ is this album’s ‘Why Did Stay With Him?’, and finds Alvin at his most open and, touching on raw nerves, is delivered in that husky, lived-in voice. As always Alvin touches on blues, country and roots and there’s a surprise in the short, saxophone led instrumental ‘One Eye’s Ballad’ which sets the scene for the following ‘Longer Than I Thought’ where Alvin shows off his guitar skills to great effect and it’s another example of how soulful Alvin can be, a fact often overlooked by those who prefer his more rootsy work. It would appear that Retroworld are going to release more of Alvin’s Hightone albums which hopefully will introduce even more music lovers to the great man’s back catalogue and who knows maybe one day Alvin’s fairly recent work, like his masterpiece on Yep Roc, ‘Ashgrove’, will also reach a wider audience.



Track Listing:-
1 Blue Boulevard
2 Guilty Man
3 Haley's Comet
4 Why Did She Stay With Him
5 Rich Man's Town
6 Gospel Night
7 Plastic Rose
8 Brand New Heart
9 Wanda and Duane
10 Andersonville
11 Dry River
12 Don't Talk About Her
13 A Woman's Got a Right
14 Between the Cracks
15 Thirty Dollar Room
16 The Devil's Wind
17 Burning in Water Drowning in Flame
18 One Eye's Ballad
19 Longer Than I Thought
20 Six Nights a Week
21 Stranger in Town
22 As She Slowly Turns to Leave
23 Florence Avenue Lullaby


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/davealvinofficial/
http://www.davealvin.net/
https://twitter.com/davealvin
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsyq6L8WjdoB8fUvaQmgpAw
https://plus.google.com/112042361086490171914


Label Links:-
http://www.floatingworldrecords.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/floating.worldrecords
https://twitter.com/floatingwrecord



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