Elvin Bishop – red dog speaks – Delta Groove Music DGPCD138, 39:54 ****:
(Elvin Bishop, vocals, guitar, slide guitar; Bob Welsh, piano, guitar; Ruth Davies, bass; June Core, drums; Bobby Cochrane, drums: with special guests.)
Elvin Bishop has become a staple of blues perseverance in a career that has spanned over 45 years. Raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he attended college in Chicago, only to fall under the spell of the burgeoning Chicago music scene of the early sixties. There he was profoundly influenced by the work of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Howlin’ Wolf. He became a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (with legendary guitar player, Mike Bloomfield), setting the stage for a generation of blues-based rock and roll.
Bishop would release several well-received albums over the next two decades and tour extensively. Despite his eclectic repertoire, he produced a legitimate pop hit with “Fooled Around and Fell In Love”. However, he would always return to the music he knew best.
Backed by a solid group of musicians, “red dog speaks’ is a rambunctious and heartfelt eleven tracks that delivers raw blues. On the opening title track, Bishop introduces his famous “red dog” Gibson 1959 cherry red ES-345 guitar as a character in this slow-paced witty number. Bishop’s growling and talking vocals help to create the mood along with his attacking style of slide guitar. The music gets a lift with the guest vocals of John Nemeth on the uptempo “Neighbor Neighbor”, with a funky horn backing, and Otis Spann’s hysterical “Get Your Hand Out Of My Pocket”, possibly the band’s best performance. The songs have basic arrangements, exploring zydeco (“Blues Cruise”), barrelhouse (“Barbecue Boogie”) , and 50s romance (“Doo-Wop Medley”).
The record production is understated, always focused on the simplicity of the material. Elvin Bishop continues to offer authentic explorations of musical storytelling.
TrackList: Red Dog Speaks; Neighbor, Neighbor; Fat And Sassy; Barbecue Boogie; Many Rivers To Cross; Blues Cruise; Doo-Wop Medley; Get Your Hand Out Of My Pocket; His Eye Is On The Sparrow; Clean Livin’; Midnight Hour Blues.
— Robbie Gerson