Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Blasters: The Blasters [Slash, 1981]
Ex-Canned Heat piano man Gene Taylor and a horn section anchored by New Orleans's own Mr. Lee Allen wreck that neobilly image, as do the three reempowered remakes from their debut. Neobilly's just an excuse that lets them play blues--plus r&b, country, New Orleans, all the unfashionable vernaculars they love--to a young and hungry audience in a recharged dramatic context. If the originals work better than the covers, that's partly because Phil Alvin's expressive moan does sound pinched sometimes, so even when you don't know the source recording (which you probably don't), you can imagine it fuller. And it's partly because Dave Alvin is a songwriter with John Fogerty's bead on the wound-tight good times of America's tough white underbelly. A-