Sunday, August 17, 2014
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: ELVIN BISHOP - CAN'T EVEN DO WRONG RIGHT
Bishop forged a distinctive style for himself in the 70's, putting out funky blues with lots of good humour and a crack band, and he hasn't had to change the plot much at all since. Coming out of the original Paul Butterfield Blues Band ranks, he had the chops, reputation and connections, and even scored a big hit mid-70's with Fooled Around And Fell In Love. But that was a one-off fluke, and since then Bishop has been a solid trooper in the blues world, and seems to have genuinely enjoyed the life.
This new one sees Bishop come up with a few more fun tunes, alternating with sparkling instrumentals and some choice covers. He's got this down-home voice, and wisely sticks to speak-singing his tunes, and playing up the good ol' blues guy image. The title cut is a shaggy dog story about an inept crook, played for laughs. Old School, with guest Charlie Musselwhite on harp, is the old codger complaining about new technology. Bishop got his old vocalist Mickey Thomas (Jefferson Starship) to come back to sing Let Your Woman Have Her Way, but it isn't a desperate attempt to have another pop hit, it's too basic a blues, this is just mutual respect.
I like all the good-natured fun, but the best stuff is the playing, and the instrumentals shine for that. At 71, Bishop is still a grand player. Hearing him with his guitar foil Bob Welsh doing twin leads is a joy, especially on the old Jimmy Reed number, Honest I Do. Sometimes you just don't need to sing, to sing the blues.