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Heart, Heat & Hiatt, by Tony Peyser, Santa Monica Mirror, June 4, 2003

There should have already been an obit for Carlos Guitarlos. It would have mentioned his playing guitar with Top Jimmy and The Rhythm Pigs twenty years ago. It would have noted how years of substance abuse rendered him homeless and how Guitarlos was last seen on Bay Area street corners playing for chump change. Well, Fate in the form a nephew intervened and, to make that proverbial long story short, a sizzling new CD proves it.

Straight From The Heart is a great blues album and would still be that without Guitarlos’ hard luck saga as a compelling back story. “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” is an instant bar band classic and he gets help from Mike Watt of The Minuteman who played on the local 1980s circuit when Guitarlos did. “Two Tavern Town” is just astonishing, as good a duet as you’ll hear this year. It’s a jangling tale of two barflies trying to woo one girl. Despite the toll liquor took on him, the now-sober Guitarlos has a crafted a friendly saloon song with an affection that’s irresistible. Joining him is John Doe, the ex-X man whose singing here is sweeter than seven pecan pies. If you feel the need to have a roof raised, Guitarlos does just that with Dave Alvin from The Blasters on “Poppin & Bumpin’” which does plenty of rockin’ and rollin’. If Guitarlos’ life hadn’t been lived, Charles Bukoswki would have invented it. Straight From The Heart is a strike thrown from the gutter in front of a bowling alley…