Los Angeles' Blasters and Washington's Evan Johns & The H Bombs proved at the Bayou last night that rock 'n' roll's earliest styles can be rescued from a nostalgic time warp and be given a dangerous urgency again. Both bands seized the musical vocabulary of rockabilly, New Orleans, rhythm and blues, and Tex-Mex music and transformed it to express their own immediate desires. These bands didn't revive old rock 'n' roll, they reincarnated it.
When the Blasters' Phil Alvin belted out, "Look out! It must be love!," he sang it with a compulsive conviction that obliterated the song's influences. Brother Dave Alvin's rockabilly guitar solo drove "Long White Cadillac" with a burning ambition that looked to the future, not the past. Dave Alvin's compositions placed the desire to find some satisfaction in love and work in an unmistakably American context. Lee Allen, who once played for Little Richard, strengthened the connections all around with a New Orleans-style tenor sax solo on "Hollywood Bed," yet the two horns were used insufficiently overall.
Though he lacked Phil Alvin's crisp delivery and Dave Alvin's sharp lyrics, Evan Johns boasted a boisterous swagger that more than compensated for any shortcomings. As he pumped cheesy electric organ chords, he positively moaned his own Tex-Mex heartbreak ballad, "Your Love Is Murder."