Phil Alvin, Unsung Stories
July 4th always gets me thinking about American music, which yesterday had me delving into old Blasters videos on YouTube (including, of course, "American Music"). Which then lead me to looking on iTunes, just for the hell of it and expecting to find nothing, for Phil Alvin's first solo album, Unsung Stories. The album has never been released on CD - it came out in 1986, or just before the era when all new releases automatically came out on CD. (My guess is that the album probably didn't sell particularly well, and Warner Brothers simply cut its losses and didn't bother with a CD release.) I've owned the vinyl LP since around 1988 and have always loved it, enough to seriously consider digitizing it in recent years since I figured the record company would never do so.
Imagine my thrill, then, to actually find Unsung Stories on iTunes yesterday! Within seconds I was bopping along to "Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn", singing all the lyrics by heart despite not having listened to the LP in years. The album is a terrific slice of Americana, with Alvin reinterpreting a great bunch of old standards with backing by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (on "Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn"), Sun Ra and the Arkestra (on several tunes, including the fantastic "Old Man of the Mountain"), various members of the Blasters, as well as several solo-guitar tunes and an acapella version of "Death in the Morning" with gospel singer backup. The joy and energy that Alvin brings to these dusty old songs makes this album an absolute delight, and one which I can't recommend any more highly. Do check it out.