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RSD: Dave & Phil Alvin

So, I did the Record Store Day thing on Saturday, late afternoon when the crowds had died down...

A new four track EP from Bruce Springsteen, a nice live album from Chris Forsyth, but I think the cream of the crop is a lovingly-produced 2x10" set from Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin. The records come in a hardback book-style sleeve, like some 78s used to, back before the dawn of time. Yep Roc Records have even managed to pre-age the sleeve with some imitation ring-wear, but were also thoughtful enough to include a download code.

The packaging is entirely apt for the music: a selection of covers of Big Bill Broonzy songs, which is a taster for an album of the same called Common Ground due out at the beginning of June. I'm slightly wary of covers of classic blues songs, which can often be too studied or too raucous, but I think the Alvin brothers have got it exactly right: respect but no awe, light on their feet, fine playing and no self-indulgence in the singing. A lot of fun.

There's a nice backstory, too, of sometimes warring brothers, with tempestuous times when they played together in The Blasters (think Ray and Dave Davies, or Liam and Noel Gallagher). Since then Phil has had a near-fatal illness and Dave's last album (the wonderful Eleven Eleven) included the wryly affectionate duet 'What's Up With Your Brother?'. Anyway, as Dave has said,'We never argued about Big Bill Broonzy'.

There's an interview and a taste of Common Ground here.

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