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Dave Alvin

Out in California – 2002 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Dave Alvin

As a full-time road warrior, it's no surprise that Alvin's confluence of music, philosophy and work ethic is captured so vividly on these live recordings. Steeped in rock, blues, folk, and country, Alvin's decidedly non-Hollywood California viewpoint is born from the grit of a working man's life, and fueled by the endless miles in between countless road gigs.

These thirteen titles are drawn from Alvin's earliest work with the Blasters and X, solo albums (including a generous helping from his 1991 debut), recent public domain recordings, and a newly penned saga, "Highway 99." Highlights include "Blue Boulevard," Alvin's riveting homage to an influential, music-loving cousin, and a smokin' piano and guitar-driven cover of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love." An acoustic cover of Bo Carter's "All 'Round Man" and an electric stab at Little Walter's "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" show off two sides of Alvin's blues. Grace notes invoke Link Wray, Bruce Channel, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Whether fronting the Guilty Men in electric club performances, or a smaller acoustic group at a Pasadena church, Alvin puts across his lyrics with incredible conviction. The spontaneity of live performance reveals additional details of his songs, as if their studio incarnations were drawn as maps to the road ahead.