Elvin Bishop has suffered tragedy in recent years and it understandably shows on a couple of cuts here. “What the Hell is Going On” is a boogie that roars about everything going on in the world. “Come On Blues” is one of the most harrowing pieces of music to come along in years. It’s obvious Bishop is using the blues to help him deal with events, using just voice and guitar, and the piece is frightening in its emotion; not the kind of thing you’d associate with a guy who did a song that “called all cows back to the barns.” It stands with the masters of the blues idiom.
That said, one of the real pluses is how the album reconciles the link between Bishop, the blues, and the good-time music that has always been a staple of his catalog. “Blues Train” has a lyric that’s fun as hell, delivered by a man who wants nothing more than to play music for his fans. “Got To Be New Orleans” is a funky tribute that has taken on new meaning for a city known for music. “He’s a Dog” is a sweet tale of Kirby, the dog shown on the back of the CD. Bishop shows off his slide chops on an instrumental take of “Sweet Dreams.” Gorgeous and soaring, it features melodic slide guitar as thick as you’ll ever hear.
Bishop’s first Blind Pig release is darn near perfect – a fine effort from a veteran who has been around many of the high points in the history of rock and roll.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’05 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.