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The Blasters

American Music – 1997 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by The Blasters

Long out of print, and scarcely available when first issued (fewer than 2,000 copies of the LP were pressed), the Blasters's disc has finally been re-issued with six previously unreleased tracks from the same sessions that produced the original LP. Although with the benefit of hindsight it might seem that there's nothing particularly revelatory here, this album rocks with the band's mix of American musics - primarily rockabilly and rock and roll, but also blues, rhythm and blues and (occasionally) country - which it infused, like many contemporaries such as X, Rank & File, and the Beat Farmers, with the whipsaw energy of punk.

We get a somewhat stripped-down version of the Blasters that would later be filled out by the addition of horns and keyboards, as can be seen by comparing the handful of songs on their debut -"Marie, Marie," "American Music," "Never No More Blues," "Barefoot Rock"- that were re- recorded with the expanded lineup and included on subsequent releases.

At the same time, the essentials of the Blasters's music are there - at once punked-up and reflective of traditional forms, highlighted by Dave Alvin's songs, which stand shoulder to shoulder with the band's tasty covers, his ferocious guitar work, and brother Phil's wailing vocals. This is a founding document whose re-issue was long overdue. Now, when is someone going to release those other Blasters albums?