Dave Alvin returns to Casbeers
When the Blasters blasted out of Downey, California (home of the Carpenters!) in the early '80s, they launched a movement much bigger than their own modest record sales would suggest. They weren't the first band of their era to celebrate American roots music. Rockpile, among others, had been doing it in England for a few years. And they didn't put retro-rock on the charts the way the Stray Cats went on to do. But their finely honed blend of R&B, rockabilly, and Chicano border music made the world safe for Los Lobos and a host of cowpunk bands that followed.
What made the Blasters special, and what saved them from the cartoonish gimmickry of the Stray Cats, was that they applied their traditional tastes to songs that resided in the modern world, much as Creedence Clearwater Revival had done more than a decade earlier. In that sense, Dave Alvin was the Blasters' John Fogerty. He didn't sing lead - that role was taken by brother Phil - but as the band's chief songwriter and visionary, he made them not just rootsy but relevant.