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Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy

4.7 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

COMMON GROUND:DAVE ALVIN AND PHIL ALV

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 3, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Yep Roc Records
  • ASIN: B00JBV28NQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,577 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Blasters fans and blues lovers alike are going to flip for this. Dave and Phil Alvin are back together again and achieve a perfect balance between an original Blasters reunion album and a Dave/Phil solo album....quite simply, the music is FANTASTIC and brings out the best in both of them. Not often can you listen to an entire album and honestly say that every song is both unique and warrants repeated listening...but that's exactly what you have here...you've got some acoustic blues, you've got some electric blues, you've got a few Dave Alvin sounding tunes, you've got an instrumental and you've even get a a taste of Blasters style rockabilly. This is all spiced up with gritty guitar, wailing harmonic, juke joint piano and GREAT SINGING...and of course the base material is CLASSIC....I was never a huge Big Bill Broonzy fan but I am finding out really quickly that his songs are great. If you have't heard any of the samples yet, the brothers don't try and reproduce the originals and they don't try and tutn them into Blasters material either....instead they dress them up just enough to ensure they sound modern in a retro-cool sort of way. That isn't completely possible on all of these classics (i.e. "Key To The Highway") but some really surprise. In particular, "I Feel So Good" which I thought had been done to death absolutely smolders... The brotherly synergy and love of this material is obvious on every track. Once again these two have cemented thier roles as "Masters of American Music"...in my humble opinion, this is the best blues album in years and will end up going down as a classic....DO NOT miss out on this one.
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Format: Audio CD
Much like the recent Neil Young record 'Letter Home' Dave and Phil Alvin have reconvened to look back for this record dedicated to Big Bill Broonzy. But for me these records are worlds apart, whilst Neil sounds morbid and self-absorbed this record sounds fresh and full of great songs and the combo of Phil & Dave for me gets to the heart of Americana. Anyone wondering what we've been missing for the last 30 years needs to listen 'What's Up With Your Brother' from Dave Alvin's 11 11 record. This record succeeds where other tribute records fail as the music here is enhanced by the playing and singing not weighed down by history.
Buy this and all The Blasters and Dave Alvin records.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Writing about Big Bill Broonzy, long-time jazz critic Nat Hentoff observed, "The blues is about the way people live, the way they really live. The good times, the lost times, the hoping times, the times when you remember you're going to die, the times when everything is so right you want time to stop." In his autobiography "Big Bill Blues" Broonzy asked to be remembered, "as a well-known blues singer and player and has recorded 260 blues songs from 1925 up till 1952; he was a happy man when he was drunk and playing with women; he was liked by all the blues singers, some would get a little jealous sometimes but Bill would buy a bottle of whiskey and they all would start laughing and playing again. . . ." It should not have been so surprising to open "Common Ground", the latest effort by Dave and Phil Alvin, and discover that after more than 30 years in the same patch, they're ready to claim space among the standouts.

Taken as a whole this album is surprising on two accounts. First, many artists will present a contemporary audience with a personal interpretation of an older recording. Think Eric Clapton featuring the Broonzy song "Key to the Highway" while fronting Derek and the Dominos in 1970. Stretching the listeners' attention to a single song writer is much rarer; recall Maria Muldaur's gem "Sweet Lovin' Ol' Soul" where about half of the tunes chosen originated with Memphis Minnie. The decision to limit the song selection here to Bill Broonzy compositions posed a challenge to both the Alvin brothers and to their audience.

It may have helped that Broonzy himself showed exceptional imagination and range over his career, from accompanying himself on a solo guitar to adding elaborate piano accompaniments, drums, bass, and horns when the budget permitted.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Common Ground is the album I have been waiting for for years. The Alvin Brothers' voices and playing are fantastic. The best they have sounded since the Blasters. The material is perfect for their voices and the performances are strong and heartfelt. As a bonus, the recording quality is superb.
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...some truly "oh wow" moments on this album - personally not a big Big Bill Broonzy guy, but anytime an album gives you a shiver while you're not paying very close attention or not, it's worth the money. And, i would have to say, that there were a few times on the album that'll make you stop and want to hear the lick (or vocal) again

Dave Alvin has had an extended run of really good (if not great) albums over the last 10 years...this is a notable addition to the library - double bonus points to hear Phil Alvin singing again as well. Highly recommended
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Being a long time Blasters fan and a Fan of Dave's solo efforts I was looking forward to this release. And I was not disappointed. This is a great sounding CD and the musicianship of all involved really shines. Especially Gene Taylor's piano that's on half the tracks. So good to know that Phil and Dave got together to make this happen and that Phil is in good voice after his illness. Keep them coming boys.
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