Hammond organ. I regret not using Leon more on the album. It was a missed opportunity: that I would have loved to have written something that he and Lee Allen could have played on together.
Leon had a furniture store and made it into a studio; it was huge. He had a big hit in the 70s called IT'S GOT TO BE MELLOW and used the money to build that studio and become a record producer. Robert Cray's SMOKING GUN was recorded there.
STRANGER IN TOWN
I wrote this as an acoustic song like BLACK JACK DAVID, but it didn't turn out that way. I wrote the lyrics after I went out to visit my dad in Downey, and some guy was killed in a liquor store. It examines the idea that when neighborhoods change, It's hard for people to still find the commonality of humanity. Duke McVinnie is credited as a co-writer. He's a bass player and songwriter: kind of a Captain Beefheart-type. He's an all around great musician.
AS SHE SLOWLY TURNS TO LEAVE
I like this song. We're definitely playing blues, and we caught a nice mood on that with the musicians. We did three takes. This was the last. I just wouldn't stop playing. It was the first time in the making of the album that I said, 'Let's just play a lot of guitar.' This was where I felt I was breaking the Blasters rules.
The way I played guitar in the Blasters was forced on me. There were Blasters rehearsals where I was told there are certain ways to play. I always wanted to break out of that. I didn't bend notes until the last Blasters album Hardline.
In the Blasters, those restrictions were meant to differentiate us from every other blues band. So many guitarists back then wanted to sound like B.B., Albert, or Freddie or the off-shoot of those guys - Eric Clapton. When Stevie Ray Vaughan came out, he was doing Albert King note-for-note, and we said, 'But we already saw Albert do that and Jimi Hendrix do that. We don't need it.' I look back and think we were stupid. I think those records could have been better if they took me off the leash a little bit.
FLORENCE AVENUE LULLABY
That was a piece of music I could never put words to. I wrote it about a Denny's restaurant in our neighborhood at the corner of Florence and Lakewood in Downey. There were these little lounges around in neighboring towns that Lee Allen and various guys would do gigs at. After they were done, they would all go eat at Denny's. I was 15 years old and would sneak out of my bed room window at 2 in the morning and sit at the counter eating French toast and listen to those guys talk. I'd always say good-bye to them, then sneak back home to bed.
Dave Alvin: "All the disagreements in the studio brought me to do a more acoustic album next. That became King of California. Greg Leisz, in his frustration told me: 'I know how to make you sound.' I had enough of producer squabbling, so I said, 'Greg let's do it on our own.' So that's how Greg Leisz became my producer."