Sure, dock it half a star for the Langford vocal on California Blues (although I love Jon, too!), but Alejandro owns all the covers he sings. Combine that with a handful of his best songs, especially "I Was Drunk', and it's still a winner.
After Alejandro Escovedo’s relationship with Rykodisc came to a sudden halt following the release of an album by his glam punk side project Buick MacKane, he released two stopgap albums while writing the material for 2001′s masterful A Man Under the Influence. More Miles Than Money: Live 1994-96 was a superb document of Escovedo’s startlingly intimate live shows, but Bourbonitis Blues sounds like an odds-and-ends EP of covers, live tracks, and a few token new cuts that was somehow stretched to a 38-minute LP. The disc only features four original songs (one of which, “Guilty,” is a remake of a tune from With These Hands), and while “I Was Drunk” is excellent, “Sacramento and Polk” and “Everybody Loves Me” suggest he was saving most of his A-list material for his next proper album. The rest of Bourbonitis Blues is filled up with covers, most of which are well worth hearing, especially his heart-rendering reading of Ian Hunter’s “Irene Wilde,” and a slow, ominous take on the Gun Club’s “Sex Beat.” But since Jon Langford happens to be singing lead on the take of “California Blues” featured here, it’s not certain just what it’s doing on an Alejandro Escovedo record. There isn’t anything bad on Bourbonitis Blues, but there isn’t a lot that’s truly distinguished, either, and it’s something of disappointment coming from one of the best singer/songwriters to emerge in the 1990s. – Mark Deming