I had sort of lost track of The Blasters during the last couple of decades or so but during the early 1980s their American Music and self-titled 1981 albums received a lot of time on my turntable. Now original vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, and harmonica player Phil Alvin, bassist John Bazz, and drummer Bill Bateman are joined by guitarist Keith Wyatt on their just released new studio album, Fun on Saturday Night.
The Blasters may not explore much new ground here but they cover the old very well. They have always been firmly rooted in the rock/rockabilly tradition, and that remains the case here but they take a side trip into a blues sound and country direction every now and then. If there is any difference from their past releases, it is that the production has given them a smoother sound.
The album’s first song, Tiny Bradshaw’s jump-blues, “Well Oh Well,” establishes the fact that this group is back and on familiar musical ground. They move it in a harder direction though, as they turn up the bass and drums. The old Magic Sam classic, “Love Me With a Feeling” receives a similar treatment.
They travel in a different direction with a re-working of Dave Alvin’s “Maria Maria,” which can best be described as Tex-Mex south of the border rockabilly. “The Yodeling Mountaineer” finds the band veering in a country direction, and the band incorporates some blues with “No Nights By Myself.”
Every once in a while a band does the unexpected, and their cover of the Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra hit “Jackson” fills that role. Exene Cervenka of X shares the vocal duties with Alvin as the song percolates along.
The 12 tracks contained on Fun on Saturday Night comprise a fine welcome back album from The Blasters. If you have not been exposed to their music before, then this is a good introduction. After all, anyone who records for the Rip Cat label can’t be all that bad.