Thursday, October 2, 2008

Elvin Bishop's Still Struttin' His Stuff On Star Studded 'The Blues Rolls On'

Elvin Bishop
The Blues Rolls On
Delta Groove Music

Review by Nightwatcher

Elvin Bishop is a true American music legend. From being a founding member of ground breaking blues rockers The Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the mid 60's, to the southern rock stylings of his 70's output, to the return to the blues from the 80's til now, the guitarist has consistently put out a slew of consistently fine albums. Although best known for the 1976 Top 10 smash,"Fooled Around And Fell In Love," long before that pre Starship bound Mickey Thomas sung blockbuster, he was already a part of rock history. Hell, as part of Butterfield's band, he backed up Dylan at the infamous Newport Folk Festival when he went electric AND played at the historic Monterey Pop Festival, sharing the bill with Hendrix, Joplin and The Who, all by the age of 25.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Bishop has amassed a plethora of famous friends and admirers, many of whom make guest appearances on his latest offering, the star studded 'The Blues Rolls On'. Featuring a dizzying array of well known blues and rock talent, such as B.B. King, James Cotton, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, George Thorogood, Kim Wilson, Tommy Castro, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Angela Strehli and John Nemeth, the album not only serves as a career spanning recap of sorts, but also a joyous celebration of blues as an American musical tradition.

Produced by Bishop, and recorded in various locations, including live on a cruise ship off the west coast of Mexico on the "Legendary Blues Cruise", he allows the guest artists to show what they've got, but make no mistake about it, this is still an Elvin Bishop album. Highlights amongst the strong performances include B.B. King's inspired 50's sounding lead guitar work on Roy Milton's jazzy "Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket," the southern fried guitar work of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks on a reworked cover of Elvin's earlier classic "Struttin' My Stuff" and George Thorogood sparring with Bishop on a boogie-fied version of Hound Dog Taylor's "Send You Back To Georgia," but when it comes for Bishop to shine he does so brightly. No more so than on "Oklahoma". Featuring just Bishop on vocals backed by his own stark, distorted guitar, it's a spellbinding account of his entire musical career, from arriving in Chicago in the late 50's to the present day. Humorous at times, even referencing Charlie Daniels' proclamation in South's Gonna Do It Again" of "Elvin Bishop sittin' on a bale of hay He ain't good lookin', but he sure can play", shrugging it off by saying that Daniels was too big to fight so he just had to accept it, in his own humorous way.

It's rare when a guest heavy friend fest works all the way through, but there really aren't any bad cuts to be had here. All shine in their own way, and if you've been curious concerning Bishop yet haven't delved into his music, this would be a great starting point. Then work your way back through his vast catalog, as there are many gems to be discovered throughout his 40 plus years of recording history. 9/10

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