Classic Clips: The Blasters “Common Man” Farm Aid 1985

This week’s Classic Clip comes from the very first Farm Aid held back in 1985 and still going strong. It was organised by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young to help poor struggling small farmers across the USA. Amongst the many performers in that first year were Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Fogerty, Emmylou Harris and Roger McGuinn. A whole host of country music legends also took part including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Charley Pride, Glen Campbell, Hoyt Axton, John Denver, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Vern Gosdin and David Allan Coe. The event additionally attracted many other major stars from a range of styles and genres including The Beach Boys, Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, Carole King, Huey Lewis, Lou Reed and Van Halen.

A scan through the complete bill will also reveal some lesser names (although not to AUK readers!) such as Lone Justice, X, Joe Ely and the subjects of our Classic Clip, The Blasters. Watching them perform at Farm Aid 1985 it is hard not to conclude that despite the long list of illustrious names on the bill, very few would have bettered Dave and Phil Alvin’s blues drenched rock and roll tear-up. The chosen clip sees the band take a head-on swipe at insincere and duplicitous politicians with the song ‘Common Man’ taken from their fourth album ‘Hard Line’ released in 1985.

About Clint West 321 Articles
From buying my first record aged 10 and attending my first gig at 14, music has been a lifelong obsession. A proud native of Suffolk, I have lived in and around Manchester for the best part of 30 years. My idea of a perfect day would be a new record arriving in the post in the morning, watching Ipswich Town win in the afternoon followed by a gig and a pint with my mates at night,
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Jeremy Courtnadge

This was the first time I encountered The Blasters. Surprisingly, it was shown on UK TV. Loved them ever since. Few singers can match Phil’s voice, let alone better it, and Dave’s playing and writing are still first rate today. They were a great band and the music is still fresh and relevant. To me, it epitomises Americana.

Thanks for the memory refresh.