While other blues vets try to revive old glories or make important statements to prove their worth, singer-guitarist Elvin Bishop couldn't give a shit about such things. He started out in the mid-'60s, engaging in fretboard duels with Michael Bloomfield in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and then went the solo route, eventually scoring a freak hit in 1976 with the sweet ballad "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." After endless touring in the '80s when he was , according to a press release, "maybe having a little too much fun," Bishop joined up with ace Chicago blues label Alligator Records for a few albums. Then in 2000, tragedy struck when his daughter was murdered in a bizarre money-laundering scheme gone wrong.
Five years later, Bishop hooked up with another redoubtable blues label and decided it was time to come back to music. How blue can he get? He starts out solo, recounting horrors of rape, murder, and airplanes flying into buildings, resigned that "the good ol' days are gone." By the next song, he's talking about bad luck almost killing him, though he's somewhat hopeful since "things...can't get no worse." Later on, on another solo number that's drenched with his trembling guitar, he implores, "Come on blues, I'm countin' on you." All of which is pretty sobering from a guy whose usual m.o. is to capture a good party on record.
Not to say that Bishop's new focus on blues therapy has made him a total wallflower. For levity, he throws in a snappy instrumental, a song about his dog, an ode to the Neville Brothers, and a band introduction number, and ends with an up-tempo, horn-filled soul-fest. He even lets his drummer sing a few songs. Through it all, he swings, boogies, and unleashes dirty guitar lines as if this is indeed his salvation.
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