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Dave Alvin: Eleven Eleven

Blasters frontman raises ghosts with some old bandmates.

Alvin has charted an admirable and varied course in the solo career that followed The Blasters’ trailblazing roots rock revivalism.

Eleven Eleven finds him back at the molten core of his art, taking unflinching stock of the past while revelling in lustful abandon as on 2004’s masterful collection, Ashgrove.

There’s a glowering blues menace to tunes about early rock‘n’roll suicide case Johnny Ace and the bitter Harlan County mining dispute, and its ratcheted up even further by the slinky, slowed down Bo Diddley beat on Run Conejo Run. Dave’s often fractious relationship with his brother Blaster Phil is resolved on the pair’s first ever recorded duet, the splendid What’s Up Brother? while the towering Dirty Nightgown is sleaze incarnate, pure pumping libido.

Sweet wry closer Two Luck Bums, the final tune recorded with his late accomplice Chris Gaffney, gives a wistful twist to the overarching mood of brooding mortality.

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.