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King of California

Dave AlvinAudio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Price: $11.88 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 13 Songs, 2014 $9.49  
Audio CD, 1994 $11.88  
Audio Cassette, 1994 --  

Amazon's Dave Alvin Store


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"Harlan County Line" Live!


It took a near-death experience to reunite Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin, the California brothers at the heart of "roots heroes" (Rolling Stone) The Blasters.

"Phil died and was brought back to life over in Spain," Dave says of his brother's 2012 health scare. "That was a real wakeup call to me. We hadn't made a full album together since 1985, but as you get ... Read more in Amazon's Dave Alvin Store

Visit Amazon's Dave Alvin Store
for 19 albums, 12 photos, videos, and 3 full streaming songs.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 1, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hightone Records
  • ASIN: B0000005QQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,537 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. King Of California
2. Barn Burning
3. Fourth Of July
4. Goodbye Again
5. East Texas Blues
6. Every Night About This Time
7. Bus Station
8. Mother Earth
9. Blue Wing
10. Little Honey
11. (I Won't Be) Leaving
12. What Am I Worth
13. Border Radio

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Former Blaster Dave Alvin takes a break from bluesy rock & roll for a folk-country collection of his best-known songs and a few choice covers. Alvin's voice, a raspy and limited yet emotionally revealing baritone, is better served with some electricity at his back, but this unplugged set is still never less than charming. The spare, new versions of Alvin songs such as "Fourth Of July" and "Border Radio" place renewed emphasis on his detail-rich lyrics, although the most memorable moment comes when Syd Straw joins him for a rollicking duet of the George Jones classic "What Am I Worth." --David Cantwell

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Splendid December 24, 2000
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Though I saw the Blasters in concert about 17 years ago, I never paid any attention to the music of Dave Alvin until my longtime friend Felice Kay told me about his solo music and urged me to give him a listen. I must say I am impressed! I bought several Alvin CDs at my friend's behest and have become a convert. King of California is one of those she recommended and after playing it the first time, I played it the rest of the afternoon. Dave Alvin can play many styles. On this CD, he reminds me at times of Jerry Jeff Walker and at other times of early Hot Tuna. He displays a great sensitivity for the blues and for traditional country. One of my favorite cuts is his rendition of Memphis Slim's Mother Earth, which is both the best and most interesting version I've heard since Eric Burdon and War recorded it 30 years ago. Others I most enjoy are the title cut; Goodbye Again, a Southwestern-flavored vocal duet with Rosie Flores; the traditional acoustic blues of East Texas Blues; and the very country duet with Syd Straw on George Jones' What Am I Worth. I listen to a lot of great music of many different genres, but I am truly sorry I didn't know about Dave Alvin years ago. Not only is King of California spare and simple, it is simply splendid.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Die for Record July 1, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Dave Alvin has been out there working the bars and theaters for years, first with The Blasters, then X, then on his own. After rocking for years with the Blasters and X, his solo work took a different look at his songs finding that they took on another feel when stripped to their bare essentials. King of California is a modern folk record that gathers some of Alvin's best songs and puts them in an acoustic setting. The songs--and the story telling--take center stage here.
Alvin may disappoint his rock fans in the same way that Springsteen did with Nebraska and Ghost of Tom Joad. Both are excellent storytellers who owe as much to Woody Guthrie as they do to Chuck Berry. Here, Alvin puts his Strat away in favor of an old Martin and focuses his attention on common people who are struggling to realize a small piece of the American dream. He looks at his subjects and relates their feelings and hopes. He doesn't turn them into heroes nor is he condescending or condemning. Listen to the way he portrays the woman in Border Radio and you know that he understands loneliness and loss. The prospector in the title cut is a metaphor for the lost American dream. This is songwriting at its best.
The arrangements are spare without being barren. Producer and string wizard Greg Leitz shows a deft hand in selecting instrumentation that supports each song. And the recording quality is superb, with a nice acoustic space around the instruments. This was my favorite album of the 90's-until Alvin released Blackjack David in 1998. Get 'em both. You won't be disappointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music That Grows On You October 25, 2004
Format:Audio CD
I saw Dave Alvin perform at the Strand in Redondo Beach, CA in 1991 with the Blasters. My wife and I were sitting in the front row. The Blasters were over one hour late. They came in and within 1 minute launched the room into 'Marie, Marie'. Phil Alvin's contorted face still a distinct memory. After this, I lost track of Dave Alvin for about 5 years. I guess I was looking in the 'B's' at Best Buy and Borders and finding nothing (this was in the pre-Amazon days). One day, while in the A's at Best Buy, I stumbled onto Dave Alvin again. I bought this CD. At first, I was hoping for the Blasters, so I didn't give the CD too many listens. Then one day, while I was moving, I started listening. This CD was really great, just a different style. Dave Alvin is an acquired taste, like moving from sweet wines to a rich cabernet. After appreciating a cabernet or merlot, it is hard to have a glass of that sweet stuff anymore.

It's very much like listening to Springsteen's Tom Joad or Nebraska after growing up on Born in the USA or Born To Run.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Music July 28, 2001
Format:Audio CD
The first time I heard any of Dave Alvins was when a friend of mine sent me some tapes from a farewell party from her favorite radio station (KSCA)LA,when it was changing formats from a very progressive station to a spanish language. One of the last songs was just introduced as track 13 (Border Radio) I fell in love with this song right away, I asked my friend if she knew if who was singing this song (she thought it was Gordon Lightfoot) I was lost I iddn't know who was the artist was none if my friends knew I didn't know what to do. I finally found out who it was ( I don't know now how I found out) and I am so glad I did. It is one of my all time favorite albums one that I can play over and over again. my favorites songs are Blue Wing, What Am I Worth, Bus Station, and Border Radio. I don't thin that there is a bad song on this cd. I have since bought all of Dave Alvins cds I will have to start checking into the music that he made with the Blasters, even though I think this music will have more of an edge to it
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best folk albums of the 1990s March 18, 2003
Format:Audio CD
King of California is Dave Alvin's career-defining moment. Some songs are slowed-down versions of his old Blasters material (Border Radio, Bus Station), others are from his days in X or early solo ablums. Somewhere along the line Dave learned how his songs should be sung. This is no knock to Phil Alvin, the lead singer for the Blasters. It's just the truth. This album's is Dave's Highway 61 Revisited, and one of the best folk albums of the 1990s. It's sonic poetry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars solid
Loved this album
Published 2 months ago by Nicole Elsner
5.0 out of 5 stars His best album
A keystone of the Americana music movement, and the one that pointed his way out of rockabilly. "Barn Burning", the title track, "Every Night About This Time" and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Daniel W. Bleier
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece od Subtely and Understatement
One of his earliest solo albums and still one of his best. Surrounded by a lineup of sympathetic musicians, Alvin's voice is allowed to explore the nuances of each song. Read more
Published 15 months ago by J. J. Vicars
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good music
No enough words to express my love of this. A winner. What are you waiting for? Click purchase already! A master!
Published 17 months ago by William Penname
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful record
Dave Alvin
"King Of California"
(HighTone Records, 1994)
Possibly Dave Alvin's best solo album; certainly one of the best... Read more
Published on April 5, 2009 by DJ Joe Sixpack
4.0 out of 5 stars King of Alvin Cds
I'm already a big Dave Alvin fan, and this is probably my favorite CD. A little more stripped down and straight forward than some of the later stuff. Read more
Published on February 24, 2006 by A. B Hawley
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have
Whether you are a long time Dave Alvin fan, or only recently started listening to his music, King of California is a must have for your collection. Great CD!
Published on August 23, 2005 by Debi Beirne
5.0 out of 5 stars As genuine as it gets.
A beautiful piece of work from the Blasters' hellcat guitarist. Alvin keeps the progressions and melodies simple while finding one devastating lyric after another. Read more
Published on June 10, 2003 by M. Casarino
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best folk albums of the 1990s
King of California is Dave Alvin's career-defining moment. Some songs are slowed-down versions of his old Blasters material (Border Radio, Bus Station), others are from his days in... Read more
Published on March 18, 2003 by "psychodj"
4.0 out of 5 stars The umpteenth version of Blasters songs sounds pretty good
By my calculations, this is the third album where at least four of these songs have appeared on ("4th of July", "Every Night About this Time", "Little Honey", "Border Radio"). Read more
Published on January 4, 2003 by
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