East Side Slim
Bishop – The Blues Rolls On
Delta Groove Music, Inc., 2008
Bishop has been one of the most underappreciated
bluesmen of his era. His foray into southern rock
in the 1970s probably didn’t help that, and
considering his self-deprecating attitude and love
of home life, he just might have preferred it that
way - Bishop is semi-famous for his gardening abilities.
now in his mid 60s, grew up in rural Oklahoma. He
went to Chicago in the early ‘60s to attend
college, but a funny thing happened along the way
– he ended up gaining a degree in the Blues.
Elvin became hooked on the blues (I sure can understand
how that can happen!), becoming real, personal friends
with such performers as Hound Dog Taylor, Junior
Wells, Little Smokey Smothers and many others. Bishop
learned his lessons from these men very well, eventually
joining the seminal band The Paul Butterfield Blue
Band as a charter member. Their album Pigboy Crabshaw
was titled after a nickname attached to Elvin.
the ‘60s ran their course, Elvin found himself
relocating to the San Francisco Bay area. He had
a solid run as a bluesy southern rocker in the 1970s,
recording for Capricorn Records. He found his way
back to the blues with Alligator Records, releasing
several fine albums for the label from the late
1980s through the early 2000s. Since then he’s
released a couple discs on Blind Pig, and now has
The Blues Rolls On on Delta Groove. This CD is chock-full
of guest starts, including (but not limited to)
B.B. King, James Cotton, Kim Wilson, Warren Haynes,
Derek Trucks, and John Nemeth. Many members of Bishop’s
own band, past and present, come out to play as
Songs: (songwriters in parentheses)
The Blues Rolls On: (Elvin Bishop) - Guest stars
= Warren Haynes & Kim Wilson.
This is a groovy rumbling track, with a very cool
bass line courtesy of Ruth Davies. Kim Wilson weaves
acoustic harp among the other players, and Haynes
and Bishop trade off lead guitar lines. Elvin treats
us to a blues travelogue of bluesmen and blueswomen
who had/have “the groove”.
Night Time Is The Right Time: (Lou Herman)
This song was made famous by Ray Charles. Guest
stars John Nemeth and Angela Strehli take the lead
vocals here, and knock this thing out of the park!
If you don’t know Nemeth, he’s one of
the hottest young vocalists/harpists out there,
and is one cool cat. Strehli is famous from her
Antone’s days and can sing her backside off.
Elvin is here, too, laying down great slide licks
and lead guitar lines. Geez, this song is incredible!
Yonder’s Wall: (James Clark)
The guests here are Ronnie Baker Brooks and Tommy
Castro, with Baker Brooks taking the lead vocal.
The song was recorded live on the ship during the
2007 Pacific Coast Legendary Blues Cruise. Elvin
plays roiling slide, Castro and Baker Brooks play
hot lead electric guitar. This is a rockin’
blues, and you can hear each of the 3 guitars players
throughout the song. Great live sound!
Struttin’ My Stuff: (Elvin Bishop; Phil Aaberg)
Guest stars here are Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks.
Not bad! In addition Johnny “V” Vernazza
and Mike Schermer also play guitar on the track
(Elvin, too.) Elvin revisits one of his big hits
from his ‘70s southern rock days. He lays
down one of his patented rappin’ party-style
vocals here. Guitar heads should dig this track,
because by the end of it you can hear most everyone
throwing lead lines out there. This tune is a lot
Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket: (Olive Perry)
B.B. King is the star of the moment here. The song
is a swinging tune done up solidly in B.B.’s
style, with Elvin singing (rather than rapping)
the vocals. It’s a very nice song, but I could
do without the conversation pieces between Bishop
and King that bookend the song. B.B. plays some
NICE guitar on the song, as does Elvin. B.B. doesn’t
sing on the track. Did I mention that this song
swings like crazy? Yes? I thought I did.
Who’s The Fool: (Berry Gordy; Smokey Robinson)
John Nemeth takes the vocals on this old Motown
track, and Kid Andersen (currently the lead guitarist
with Rick Estrin & The Night Cats, vice Charlie
Musselwhite and others) guests on guitar. This is
a laid-back mid-tempo blues, with Nemeth stealing
the song with his vocals. He’s an amazing
Black Gal: (Clifton Chenier)
This is one of Clifton Chenier’s best known
blues songs. Clifton played deep blues; don’t
let the accordion fool you. Guest accordionist Andre
Thierry plays with passion and R.C. Carrier (who
played in Chenier’s bands) provides vocals
Oklahoma: (Elvin Bishop)
This song features only Mr. Elvin Bishop –
on low-down Hound Dog Taylor-style guitar and feet.
It’s raw and ragged, with Bishop telling his
“story” of how he came to the blues.
Listen to the words here for a blues history lesson.
Come On In This House: (Amos Blakemore aka Junior
This tune features the Homemade Jamz Blues Band,
whose members are about the youngest DEEP blues
band you’ll probably ever find. At the time
of this recording the band members were 14, 11 and
9! Kyle Perry, HJBB’s singer and guitarist,
takes the vocals and plays guitar alongside Elvin.
The song is one of Jr. Wells’ later-day classics;
this version would make Jr. proud.
I Found Out: (Daniels; Wells; Moore)
James Cotton and John Nemeth help Elvin out with
this mid-‘60s Jr. Well tune. Cotton blows
unamplified harp and Nemeth nails some of Wells’
idiosyncratic vocal mannerisms. They don’t
come across as condescending, but as a tribute to
Jr., who was a great vocal stylist.
Send You Back To Georgia: (J. Hammonds; J. Matthews)
Elvin sat in with George Thorogood and his band
in K.C. and this song was the result. It’s
an old Hound Dog Taylor rave-up. Unfortunately,
it the only tune of this CD which seems flat, which
seems odd as George and his Delaware Destroyers
are know for their energetic show and their love
of slide driven blues guitar. George takes the vocal
here, and just didn’t seem to have the necessary
fire this time around.
Honest I Do: (E.G. Abner, Jr.; Jimmy Reed)
One last guest shot for Mr. John Nemeth on this
instrumental take on the Jimmy Reed classic. Elvin
almost always throws one unusual instrumental on
his albums, and this is it for “The Blues
Rolls On”. Bishop’s slide and Nemeth’s
harp take the place of Jimmy Reed’s vocals.
This tune lopes along wonderfully, capturing the
feel of the tune. Dig the ride cymbal! This was
a cool way to end the CD.
CD, which celebrates the musical career of Elvin
Bishop and the music that influenced and moved him
over the years, is his 1st album to be released
by Delta Groove. Elvin has enlisted the help of
many longtime musical cohorts, to include Ed Earley,
Mike Schermer, Terry Hanck, Michael “Fly”
Brooks and Bobby Cochran. This list is not meant
to be inclusive. In addition to these musicians,
Delta Groove headman Randy Chortkoff brought in
many guests for the sessions for The Blues Rolls
On. This initially left me feeling leery about this
CD – would it still sound like an Elvin Bishop
recording with all the extra help? The answer is
a resounding YES!
fact, this CD ranks among the best of Bishop’s
career, and also ranks as one of the strongest releases
yet by Delta Groove. Elvin still sings a few tunes
here, John Nemeth steals the show on his tracks (anyone
remember the days of Mickey Thomas from Bishop’s
Fooled Around and Fell in Love days?), Elvin’s
slide guitar work is evident everywhere, and most
all the guests provide fine embellishment to the tunes
they worked on. I can do nothing but wholeheartedly
recommend this CD. STLBluesometer rating = 4.5. This
is an extremely strong release, and it will likely
thrust Elvin Bishop fully into the spotlight of musical
fame again (of course I don’t think he ever
really left it, but that’s just my humble opinion.)
"East Side Slim"