Blasters Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings

On a road between CCR and the roots-rock revival of the '90s, one can find the Blasters, authentic rockabilly originals who, in the early '80s, stood at a crossroads between the burgeoning L.A. punk scene, the Tex-Mex influence of bands like Los Lobos, and the last gasping generation of original bluesmen like Big Joe Turner. The two-CD Testament gathers their three full-length albums (1981's self-titled debut, 1993's Non Fiction and 1985's Hard Line) as well as a live EP (Over There: Live At The Venue, London) and sprinkled outtakes. Songwriter Dave Alvin and his brother Phil are the core Blasters, with Dave Alvin's searing songwriting leading the band; now-classics heard here include ""Marie Marie," "So Long Baby Goodbye," "Long White Cadillac" (made a huge hit at the time by country bad boy Dwight Yoakam), and "Dark Night" (played by the undead band in Robert Rodriguez's vamp flick From Dusk Till Dawn). The second disc provides a most interesting contrast, between their commercial success-seeking troubled third record (where the label-touted John Mellencamp collaboration is found) and the live album of mostly covers, which reveals both the Blasters' power as a smokin' live band, and the links of their lineage to the music's past. Given the brilliant evolution of Los Lobos (featuring ex-Blaster baritone saxophonist Steve Berlin) and the success of Dave Alvin in particular as a solo performer, this collection serves as a musicologist's dream what-if jumping off point. (Rhino)