While the original lineup of the Blasters made more than their share of great records, their rocket-powered blend of rockabilly, blues, country, and any anything else that sounds good in a roadhouse on a Saturday night was always meant to be experienced in person, live and loud. However, the Blasters' sole live release, the six-song EP Over There: Live at the Venue, London, simply lacked the space to communicate the many good things the group could do in front of an audience. Fortunately, in the spring of 2002 the original Blasters lineup -- Phil Alvin on guitar and vocals, Dave Alvin on lead guitar, John Bazz on bass, and Bill Bateman on drums -- reassembled for a handful of California shows to promote the retrospective release Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings (1981-1985), and someone had the good sense to record their shows at the Hollywood House of Blues. Trouble Bound (in which the foursome are joined by pianist Gene Taylor, who joined the group shortly before they cut The Blasters in 1981) doesn't exactly break any new ground for the Blasters, but it sure does a hell of a job of capturing what they do best -- even the relatively understated numbers like "Help You Dream" and "Too Tired" sizzle with energy, and when they open up the throttle on "Long White Cadillac," "So Long Baby Goodbye," and "Marie, Marie," they sound muscular, impassioned, and joyously alive. Engineer Mark Linett does a great job of getting the band's sound on tape with a very live ambience that still sounds tight and punchy, and the dedication to friend, influence, and sometime bandmate Lee Allen is a true sign of class. In short, Trouble Bound is the great live album this great live band has long deserved, and the fact that they cut it 16 years after they last shared a stage together simply proves that the right ingredients are what make a great recipe work.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming