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ELVIN BISHOP

THE BLUES ROLLS ON

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DELTA GROOVE (DGPCD126)

The Blues Rolls On, Night Time Is The Right Time, Yonder's Wall, Struttin' My Stuff, Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket, Who's The Fool, Black Gal, Oklahoma, Come On In This House, I Found Out, Send You Back To Georgia, Honest I Do.

Elvin Bishop may have spent his early years in rural Oklahoma but he was listening to black radio stations from Louisiana and Chicago and making his first contact with the blues. Fast forward a few years and we find him at Chicago University, lodging right in the centre of the Chicago blues scene spending his time in blues lounges digesting the music of Smokey Smothers, Sammy Lawhorn and Hound Dog Taylor.

Friendship with blues harpist Paul Butterfield resulted in the formation of the Butterfield Blues Band and some of the most loved albums of the sixties but he left that band in the late 60s and moved to San Francisco where, when not gigging at the Fillmore with BB King, Hendrix and Clapton, he recorded some well received stuff for Epic. Next, he appeared on the Alligator label with a handful of acclaimed blue collar blues albums that included "Ace In The Hole" and "Don't Let The Bossman Get You Down" but now, here he is with his best album ever.

I don't usually go for CDs full of guest artists but this one really is a cut above the usual. Elvin still slams out the blues with as much verve and skill as we've come to expect but on this one, he's supported by some of the truly greats. BB King is here dominating a gorgeous laid-back arrangement of Roy Milton's "Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket", George Thorogood cranks up that nasty Hound Dog-style guitar on the rockin' "Send You Back To Georgia" and RC Carrier helps Elvin achieve a big fat blustering sound on Clifton Chenier's "Black Gal" - a reminder of when Elvin appeared on Clifton's "Out West" album.

Kim Wilson's performance on "The Blues Roll On" prompts Elvin to say "that's the best third position harp playing I ever heard". Former Allman Brothers Band members Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes make their axes scream on Elvin's 70s hit "Struttin' My Stuff" and Ronnie Baker Brooks and the Tommy Castro Band get right back to the ghetto with their storming version of "Yonder's Wall".

There are some huge guitar players here but they don't overshadow the star of the show. Elvin's gritty tone and slashing slide style shines through and his solo guitar piece "Oklahoma" featuring "just me and my foot" is a real speaker shredder if there ever was one! He also rocks up a storm on the wonderful "Come On In This House" which was recorded in Clarksdale, Mississippi with the Homemade Jamz Band. This one's a terrific piece of modern down home blues featuring excellent vocals from fourteen year old Ryan Perry supported by a drummer and a bassist who are both under twelve years old! They might be young but these kids could teach a few of today's big shots a lesson or two!

All in all, it's a little belter of a blues CD. Elvin Bishop must be very proud of this - his latest and his best!

 

Review Date: January 2009

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