Recorded in Los Angeles the day after the historic 1994 Northridge earthquake and produced by Greg Leisz, King of California had its genesis in the album's title track, a readymade folk ballad, written for his mother, in which an aspiring suitor heads west to make his fortune in the wild, still young Golden State. 'King of California' is when I decided I would let the song tell me what it sounds like,' says Alvin. 'Ever since then, that's been my rule.'
Featuring acoustic interpretations of some of the finest songs in his catalog, along with new, folk inflected compositions, and notable covers, Dave Alvin found the true measure of his own voice with King of California. 'It was ironic that for a guy who was known as a loud guitar player and questionable singer, his best seller was an acoustic album,' says Alvin.
Included are songs written and originally recorded during the '80s like: 'Barn Burning' from American Music (1980), 'Bus Station' and 'Leaving' from the Blasters' Non Fiction (1983), 'Little Honey,'written with X's John Doe and featured on the Blasters Hard Line (1985), and the 'Fourth of July,' which appeared on both X's See How We Are (1997) and on Romeo's Escape (1987). 'Every Night About This Time' also appeared on the album.
Like the records he made as a member of the Blasters, King of California features a variety of covers, including Tom Russell's 'Blue Wing,' Dallas singer pianist Whistlin' Alex Moore's 'West Texas Blues,' retitled 'East Texas Blues,' Memphis Slim's classic 'Mother Earth,' and 'What Am I Worth,' a George Jones song, featured here as a duet with the incomparable Syd Straw. The album also includes co writes with Rosie Flores ('Goodbye Again') and John Doe ('Little Honey').
'I'm real proud of it twenty five years later,' Alvin says. 'The whole process was a revelation, to record with everybody in the studio sitting roughly in a circle. Sitting there on the edge of my chair with an acoustic guitar knowing that if I blow this chord we have to start over. And I could use my voice; when I was recording electric my voice couldn't lead the band. In this situation I could. That allowed a certain openness and freedom I hadn't experienced before. And for Greg, this was his baby, his chance to produce me and get my voice right. His calmness in all of this led to the vibe of the record.'