Picks and Pans Review: Hard Line
This was to have been the breakthrough album for the Blasters, the record that would bring their raw-boned mixture of blues, country and rockabilly into broad public favor. In this era of overprocessed music, Hard Line is indeed refreshing, but it hardly qualifies as commercial. The California quintet, led by the Alvin brothers, Dave and Phil, may thirst for acceptance, but they haven't compromised. Hey Girl is a nifty two-stepper with David Hidalgo of Los Lobos adding a Cajun touch on accordion. Richard Greene contributes some fancy fiddling to the country ballad Little Honey. The Blasters even try their hand at a spiritual on the traditional Samson and Delilah, with Phil Alvin's voice accompanied only by the Jubilee Train Singers and his brother's slaphappy guitar. Colored Lights seems designed for radio airplay. After all, it was written by that maven of Middle America, John Cougar Mellencamp. But even here Phil hasn't bothered to tone down his hardy, hiccuping vocal style. The Blasters may turn out to be like the Fabulous Thunder-birds: They're a terrific band in concert, but it's well-nigh impossible to capture their vitality on vinyl. (Slash/WB)
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