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The Blues Rolls On

Elvin Bishop

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Album Review

Bishop hops labels once again, this time to the relatively young and scrappy Delta Groove imprint, while calling up some names in his obviously well-stocked Rolodex to assist on his first predominately studio album in three years. Like most guest studded affairs, this is an inconsistent but enjoyable romp. It also works as a career recap of sorts with Bishop revisiting "Yonder's Wall," a tune from his Butterfield Blues Band days (with Ronnie Baker Brooks and Tommy Castro), along with the Southern styled party sound that proved so commercially viable during his '70s Capricorn affiliation, in addition to other covers. He strips things down for a solo musical life history in "Oklahoma," an electric, educational traipse through his back pages from his early years in the titular state, set against stark, distorted boogie guitar. He taps the youngsters in the Homemade Jamz Blues Band, another Delta Groove signing, for a cool grooving version of Junior Wells' "Come On in This House," and features John Nemeth on vocals for three tracks and harp on the closing midtempo Jimmy Reed instrumental "Honest I Do," apparently the first blues song a young Bishop heard on his transistor radio as a child in Oklahoma. Fellow boogie man George Thorogood squares off with Bishop and takes lead vocals for a frolic through Hound Dog Taylor's "Send You Back to Georgia," and Bishop references his Capricorn days with current Allman Brothers Band guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes on a reworked "Struttin' My Stuff." B.B. King stops by for a short interview that leads into a jazzy, swinging cover of Roy Milton's "Keep a Dollar in Your Pocket," a song King was familiar with from his old Memphis DJ days. R.C. Carrier and Andre Thierry shift the proceedings to a bluesy, zippy zydeco on "Black Gal." As you can see, the album is pieced together from a variety of sessions in different locations, resulting in a patchwork set that, despite many excellent and above all enthusiastic performances, never quite gels. Like the collage of pictures on the back cover, this is more a scrapbook of Bishop playing with his pals and acquaintances than a focused project, but there is enough quality music here to attract established fans, even if this isn't the place to generate new ones.

Biography

Born: 21 October 1942 in Glendale, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A veteran guitarist who fused the blues with gospel, R&B, and country traditions, Elvin Bishop was born in Glendale, CA, on October 21, 1942. He grew up on a farm in Iowa with no electricity or running water, and eventually moved to Oklahoma with his family when he was ten. Raised in an all-White community, his only exposure to African-American traditions was the radio, which introduced him to the sounds of blues stations in Shreveport, LA. The piercing sound of Jimmy Reed's harmonica won his...
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The Blues Rolls On, Elvin Bishop
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