Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Guilty of Greatness: Alvin Turns Songs into Celebrations

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Guilty of Greatness: Alvin Turns Songs into Celebrations

Article excerpt

DAVE ALVIN & THE GUILTY MEN

Off Broadway, Friday, Sept. 27

SOME THRILL RIDES make people want to get on them again and again, despite the predictable nature of the dips, curves or flips causing all the excitement. Dave Alvin took the thrill-ride approach to his concert with his band, the Guilty Men, Friday night at Off Broadway. Nearly every song started off at a relatively low energy level and worked up to a head of steam that could easily have been the climax of a more complacent artist's show. Alvin was once the lead guitarist and songwriter for the Blasters, the best of the early '80s rockabilly and roots-rock revivalists. For about 10 years, though, he's been fronting his own bands, or performing solo, as an engaging singer/songwriter with a decidedly acoustic country bent. Both halves of his career have been highlighted by some of the finest songs ever written - "Marie Marie," "Long White Cadillac," "Fourth of July," "Wanda and Duane," "Haley's Comet," to name a few. Alvin's great theme, lyrically and musically, is the promise and failure of the American Dream. His characters are usually talented, yet flawed - people with potential to do anything; people who have sometimes achieved greatness, yet who are buffetted by events, held down by surroundings. Sometimes they don't give up hope, sometimes their dreams keep them going. Alvin rarely lets anyone leave his songs without at least experiencing some of the exhilaration obtained by those who live life without thought to consequences. Musically, Alvin draws from the great American inventions and comb inations created through cultural interactions. There is blues and country/Western, a little jazz, some New Orleans rhythms and, especially with the Guilty Men, rock 'n' roll. This band swaggered and bulled its way through any number of china shops, not caring if anything was smashed to bits, and making sure to sweep up the pieces as it went. …

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