Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin: Lost Time

Blasters brothers’ reunion continues with dynamic tributes to formative influences.

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After 30 years apart, LA thoroughbreds Dave and Phil Alvin’s Big Bill Broonzy tribute, Common Ground, showed that musical siblings can end their days in celebration, not recrimination.

Lost Time expands its predecessor’s game-plan with aplomb. Delights include four songs made famous by early pal/seminal influence Joe Turner, tunes by James (and Oscar) Brown, Leroy Carr and gospel pioneer Thomas Dorsey.

Revisiting their blues-privileged youth, the Alvins deliver a stylistic coup de grâce. Poet Dave’s lean vocal and hard-edged harp devastate Willie Dixon’s Sit Down Baby. Phil’s elasticated, playful vibrato trembles lasciviously on a stripped-down, action-ready Please Please Please, while Dave’s rapacious, screaming guitar parries his bedevilled merriment on Mister Kicks. Perhaps best of all is Dorsey’s closing If You See My Savior, which puts Phil’s near-death experience (from which mercy this reunion sprung) centre stage. File under time very well spent.

Gavin Martin

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.