Sunday, October 26, 2014

CD Review: Elvin Bishop's Can't Even Do Wrong Right

Elvin Bishop's Can't Even Do Wrong Right
At this point in his lengthy career, roots ‘n’ blues legend Elvin Bishop is unlikely to bring about any sort of musical revolution. The guitarist has followed a pretty simple formula on albums like Red Dog Speaks and The Blues Rolls On, and over most of the past 20 or so years, really – a bit of good-natured humor, a little heartfelt emotion, a few inspired cover songs, and plenty of greasy git licks. It’s not a particularly innovative formula, but Bishop’s not out to set the woods on fire, he’s just trying to have a good time and play some entertaining music.

And entertaining it is…Bishop’s latest, Can’t Even Do Wrong Right, is the perfect showcase for the guitarist’s bawdy humor and his signature musical blend of twang ‘n’ bang. Marking his return to the Alligator Records label after an absence of better than a decade, Bishop teams up with some old pals – singer Mickey Thomas (he of “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” fame) and harp player Charlie Musselwhite – to crank out a set of songs that offer the perfect mix of talent, blues tradition, and humor.

The title track is a jocular tale of a sad sack named “Maurice” who always finds himself in hot water, the humorous lyrics matched by Bishop’s swinging vocals and engaging fretwork. A cover of the legendary Little Walter’s “Blues With A Feeling” substitutes Bishop’s raging guitarplay for Walter’s dancing harp, while Musselwhite brings his best game for “Old School,” a statement of defiance by a couple of aging bluesmen that offers up plenty of red-hot instrumentation and as funky a groove as you’ll ever hear.

Mickey Thomas takes the microphone for the original “Let Your Woman Have Her Way,” an effective ballad with torch vocals and Bishop’s subtle, elegant fretwork. Fat Domino’s “Bo Weevil” is a New Orleans-styled romp with crackling accordion and undeniable rhythm. Bishop is an underrated instrumentalist, his six-string skills often overshadowed by his playful charisma. As shown by Can’t Even Do Wrong Right, though, while the guitarist may joke around a bit, deep in the grooves where it counts, he’s all business…and Bishop seldom fails to bring energy and passion to his performances.

Buy the CD from Elvin Bishop's Can't Even Do Wrong Right

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