In This Issue:  Dave & Phil on Lost Time, Blasters tour report by Keith Wyatt, Big Joe Turner, and the Blasters 1986 Palace Show.

A Look Back: The Blasters at the Palace in Los Angeles, December 26, 1986          by Tom Wilk

     Since forming in 1979, the Blasters have performed hundreds of shows with an assortment of lineups.  Their most memorable concerts can be appreciated not only for the Blasters' level of performance--but also for the challenging circumstances the band faced.  That was the case when the Blasters took the stage at the Palace in Los Angeles on Dec. 26, 1986.
     Playing in their hometown the day after Christmas, emotions ran high. It was their first show after the overdose death of lead guitarist Hollywood Fats on Dec. 8; it was also the first show with Dave Alvin in nine months. By coincidence, the band's first concert with Hollywood Fats was held only six months earlier at the Palace on June 7.
     The original quartet delivered a show that exceeded expectations, helped, in part, by the support of the hometown crowd.  The band played 30 songs, one of the longest shows of their career, offering up selections from all four of their studio albums, plus a few unexpected songs and surprises.
     Phil Alvin opened the show with a dedication to Hollywood Fats and then the group launched into AMERICAN MUSIC, a preview of their forays

into blues, rockabilly, country, gospel, rock 'n' roll and surf music. The band was firing on all cylinders.
     Phil was in a creative mood with his dedications. "This goes out to the Denny's near the county jail," he announced before NO OTHER GIRL, which featured a lively solo by Dave. BORDER RADIO and I DON'T WANT TO were dedicated to Los Lobos and Rockin' Ronny Weiser (of Rollin Rock Records), respectively.
     On I DON'T WANT TO, the band failed to count off the song properly, so Phil invited the audience to do the counting which they continued to do so at other times during the concert.
     The first surprise of the evening came on the fourth song, when the band played a slightly menacing version of DADDY ROLLIN' STONE, a song from Phil's
Unsung Stories album released in August, 1986.  Almost halfway through the show, Phil called singers Bobby King and Herman Johnson to the stage for a spirited, stripped-down version of the gospel song DEATH IN THE MORNING, another Unsung Stories song. King and Johnson sang on the studio version and were billed as the Jubilee Train Singers.
     King and Johnson remained on stage for a country version of HELP YOU DREAM, replicating the vocal parts supplied by the Jordanaires on the original version on
Hard Line. King and Johnson left the stage, but returned to sing with Phil on SAMSON AND DELILAH, a song from Hard Line that in retrospect could have been an Unsung Stories track.
     The guests continued as Phil brought saxophonists Lee Allen and Steve Berlin to the stage in the second half of the concert for a trio of songs: CRYING FOR MY BABY, ONE MORE DANCE and I'M SHAKIN'.
     Next came a big surprise: Dave Alvin took over as lead singer as he roared through ROMEO'S ESCAPE, still eight months away from an official release in the U.S. as the title track on his first solo album. The horns returned for an extended version of SO LONG BABY GOODBYE that lasted nearly six minutes. After MARIE MARIE, the horn section returned for a three-song encore.
     A full-throttle version of BLUE SHADOWS (from the
Streets of Fire soundtrack) was followed by the biggest surprise of the evening. Phil and Dave teamed up for a raucous duet on JUSTINE, a song that Phil and John Doe of 'X' had recorded during the Non Fiction sessions that would be released on The Blasters Collection in 1990. This Phil and Dave duet predates WHAT'S UP WITH YOUR BROTHER by nearly a quarter of a century.
     The concert ended on a high note with an all-hands-on-deck version of CALIFORNIA SUN, featuring horns and backing singers. The song was surf hit for the Rivieras in 1964. Dave Alvin would sing lead vocals on a cover of this song by Los Straitjackets in 2001.

     While the concert recording is a little rough in spots, it's a night to remember for the Blasters, as well as their fans. If the Blasters ever follow the path of the Grateful Dead and launch an archival series of concert recordings, this show should be a prime candidate for release.

Set list: American Music/No Other Girl/I Don't Want To/Daddy Rollin' Stone/Too Tired/Border Radio/Just Another Sunday/Honey Don't/I Wish You Would/Dark Night/Long White Cadillac/Sadie Brown/Death in the Morning/Help You Dream/Crazy Baby/Jubilee Train/Cryin' for My Baby/One More Dance/I'm Shakin'/Romeo's Escape/Samson and Delilah/Trouble Bound/Stop the Clock/Red Rose/Rock and Roll Will Stand/So Long Baby Goodbye/Marie Marie/Blue Shadows/Justine/California Sun

The Blasters / Dave Alvin newsletter
editor/writer: Billy Davis     
copy editor: Craig Frischkorn     writer Tom Wilk