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Blasters Touring With a New Guitarist, Songs by Phil Alvin


The Blasters are back.

With Greg Hormel of the Radio Ranch Straight Shooters slipping into the guitar slot and mainstay Phil Alvin taking over the songwriting duties, the band will set out this month on its first U.S. tour in almost 18 months. The rejuvenated band also plans to go into the studio this summer to record its first album since 1985's "Hard Line."

This comes after a long period of turmoil that began when Phil's brother, Dave Alvin, the band's lead guitarist and primary songwriter, left to join X in 1986. His replacement, Michael (Hollywood Fats) Mann proved a strong addition, but he died of a heart attack in December of that year. Next Billy Zoom (whom Dave Alvin had replaced in X) signed on only to leave after a brief European tour last summer. Along the way the band was dropped from the Slash Records label and is still without a contract.

Nonetheless, Phil Alvin is upbeat about the new lineup, which may also include pianist Gene Taylor on some dates. He is worried, though, about taking over the songwriting responsibilities, which is part of the reason that the group will be avoiding Los Angeles during the first leg of the tour.

"I feel like I'm in a Catch-22, squared," said Alvin, who is finishing his mathematics doctorate. "If my brother never existed, then I'd have no trouble. Here are my songs. Compare them with anybody's. But the person I'm going to be compared with is Dave Alvin, who is as good a songwriter as there is on the planet right now.

"We won't hit L.A. proper until August, which is closer to when the record will come out. I'm worried about having someone from a record company--who has never had an opinion of their own anyway--listen and say, 'Phil Alvin's voice is wonderful but the material, of course, is not comparable to his brother David's.' "

CLUB NEWS: It's taken four years, but finally it looks like Club Lingerie's occupancy-limit problems may nearing resolution, thanks to the installation of a sprinkler system, part of $50,000 worth of recent improvements. At a Los Angeles Building and Safety Commission hearing earlier this year, "a fair revision" of the club's current occupancy level of 299 was promised, dependent on the upgrading of the building. Club talent booker Brendan Mullen says he's hoping that the legal capacity will be boosted to 400, a change that would "help us to get touring club acts and get back in the swing of things with a bit more pizazz."

Meanwhile, the matter of the Country Club in Reseda, which had its operating permits suspended in February following complaints by neighboring residents about unruly behavior by club patrons, remains unresolved. A hearing at City Hall June 7 was continued over to Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Manager Scott Hurowitz says the club has started a neighborhood watch program, set up a hot line for local residents and bought a car to patrol the area after shows. "All we're asking is for government officials to look at what's happened in the last 16 months--Mick Jagger, Prince, MTV, boxing," he says. "They shouldn't be trying to get rid of us. They should be thrilled we're here."

But neighborhood protest organizer Danny Robertson, 34, claims that Hurowitz has promised stricter security in the past with little success at controlling disturbances. "If you live next to a guy who has a party now and then , you put up with it," says Robertson. "But if he has one every night, with 400 cars starting up in the middle of the night, you'd try to get it to stop."

NEWS 'N' NOTES: ROM Records' second volume of the eclectic "All-Ears Review" anthology series includes songs by local bands, the Balancing Act, the Wrens, Fibonaccis and the Bluesbusters. The album's selections were supervised by KCRW programmer Mara Zhelutka. . . . Also new from ROM is polka-mad Rotondi's second release, "Play On," making this a banner month for group founder Paul Lacques--also a member of the world-beating Bonedaddys, whose long-awaited debut is one of the hotter local platters of the year.

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