Album review: ELVIN BISHOP – Can’t Even Do Wrong Right

Elvin Bishop - Can't Even Do Wrong Right

Alligator [Released 18.08.14]

Elvin Bishop’s albums are like the welcome return of a long lost friend. Of course he’s never really been away, save for the 7 year recording gap in the 80’s, but his post-Alligator comeback years have been marked by a laid back, good-time vibe, in sharp contrast to the twin guitar intensity he shared with Mike Bloomfield in Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band.

The fire may have dampened to embers, but the subtlety of his tones and the band’s instrumental interplay is almost as impressive as the songs themselves.

Elvin’s unique style has been cryptically described as ‘low-down and uplifting’ by the Chicago Sun-Times and ‘Can’t Even Do Wrong Right’ explores his early blues roots in the company of fellow Butterfield band member Charlie Musselwhite and former Starship singer Mickey Thomas (also vocalist on Elvin’s signature song ‘Fooled Around & Fell In Love’).

Just past the album’s halfway point he humorously reflects on old age on the self explanatory ‘Everybody’s In The Same Boat’ and from then on in, the album becomes a more rootsy affair with elements of country, cajun, and a live rock & roll outro.

He’s not so much run out of steam, as simply found a coherent retro thread to glue the album together.  The material is explored with real affection and inspired playing, but songs such as the self penned ‘Dancin’ sound like a celebratory after thought, though Elvin’s croaky voice does have an undeniably engaging quality.

He voices the title track’s humorous narrative over a fat groove which sets a template for the rest of the album. Elvin is clearly serious about his music, if not the situation his Cheech & Chong style characters find themselves in.

He’s joined by Mickey Thomas on harmony vocals on ‘Blues With a Feeling’ which has a nice loose and stripped down feel, but with potent double guitar lines and a startling fat tone on the solo.

‘Old School’ is a lo-fi highlight with a thematic thread that complements the later ‘Everybody’s In The Same Boat’. It’s got a Bo Diddley beat, some Charlie Musselwhite wailing harp, dirt sounding guitar tone and a minimalist arrangements, anchored by deft brush strokes: “I go the club don’t want no DJ jive, I like my real music up close and live.”

The song finishes with a humorous rap between Charlie and Elvin: “Superman would have a hell of a time finding a place to change these days.  Charlie: “What you talking about?  Elvin: “No phone booth.

No sooner has he declared himself old school and the band slips into a soulful ballad ‘Let Your Woman Have Her Way’, with Micky Thomas’s on vocals. ‘No More Doggin’ glistens with instrumental slide and harp-led tonal subtleties, and make you wonder why Elvin and Charlie haven’t worked together more often in recent times.

The album smoulders, smokes and ultimately beguiles you with another instrumental ‘Honest I Do’ before finishing with a couple of nuggets. There’s  a cover of Fats Domino’s ‘Bo Weevil’,  full of  harmony guitars and accordion,  and a quantum leap back to the birth of rock and roll on the live jump, boogie and swing of Lionel Hampton’s ‘Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop’.

It’s a poignant musical post script with a subtext which suggests the band may be old school but they can still rock.  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 March 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

Watch again

More about Josh

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 March 2021.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 GARY HUGHES Decades (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 METALITE A Virtual World (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 KAT DANSER One Eye Open (indie)

Power Plays w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)

ALTZI Point Of No Return (RA Music)
DIRTY LACES Breathe (Golden Robot Records)
ASHEN MOON Ashen Moon (Golden Robot Records)
ANDREWW Shadow Love (indie)
JORDAN RED Freak Show (indie)
HAYES & Y Empty Orchestra (indie)
KELSEY BOVEY Another World (indie)
NEPTUNE RAIN We Breathe The Same (indie)

Popular (last 30 days)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), All Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply