Search - Dave Alvin :: King of California

King of California
Dave Alvin
King of California
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

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 bette...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Dave Alvin
Title: King of California
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Hightone Records
Release Date: 5/1/1994
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
Styles: Americana, Singer-Songwriters, Roots Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 012928805421

Synopsis essential recording
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

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CD Reviews

Simply Splendid
Kurt Harding | Boerne TX | 12/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
To Die for Record
Kurt Harding | 07/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Music That Grows On You
B. Coker | Elkhorn, WI United States | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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.