Dave Alvin (from the album King of California: 25thAnniversary Edition available on Kraft Recordings)
For Dave Alvin, the first memory of King of Californiafocuses on the title track, the musician recalling that ‘this is when I let the song tell me what it sounds like. Ever since then, that’s been my rule. It sounds ridiculous, but it was something I had to learn’. King of Californiacelebrates a 25thanniversary release, adding three tracks, Dave Alvin showing his guitar skills with a self-written instrumental (“Riverbed Rag”) while his vocal is slowly pulled under, falling into the current of Merle Haggard’s “Kern River” as it reverberates over the dark strums of “The Cuckoo”. Besides the lessons Dave Alvin learned about the songs, and hearing the tracks with half a decade between the recording, he found that he was ‘real proud of it twenty-five years later. The whole process was a revelation, to record with everybody in the studio sitting roughly in a circle. Sitting there on the edge of my chair with an acoustic guitar knowing that if I blow this chord we have to start over. And I could use my voice; when I was recording electric my voice couldn’t lead the band. In this situation I could. That allowed a certain openness and freedom I hadn’t experienced before. And for Greg (Leisz), this was his baby, his chance to produce me and get my voice right. His calmness in all of this led to the vibe of the record’.
The recording of King of Californiacame at the end of another vibration when Dave and producer Greg Leisz entered the studio the day after Southern California’s 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Tracks from his work with The Blasters (“Border Radio”, “Little Honey”, “Bus Station”, Barn Burning”) as well as cuts from his previous electric solo work and with X (“4thof July”). A co-write with Rosie Flores (“Goodbye Again”) welcomes the Austin guitarist to the microphone while Syd Straw is the duet partner on “What Am I Worth”. Songs by Memphis Slim (“Mother Earth”) and Tom Russell (“Blue Wing”) sit alongside Dave cuts “Every Night About the Time” and “I Won’t Be Leaving”, the tune whispered as a beautiful harmony between Dave and Hacienda Brothers Chris Gaffney.
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