Red Dog Speaks

Elvin Bishop

Delta Groove Music, 2010

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Elvin Bishop has been cranking out the tunes for almost half a century now.

During the late ‘50s, he entered the University Chicago, which is located right in the middle of Chicago’s south side, one of the major centers of the blues. He met Paul Butterfield there, and together they sampled the music of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Howlin’ Wolf, and other giants of the early electric blues at local clubs. All the while, Bishop was developing his own guitar style.

During 1963, the pair recruited Howlin’ Wolf’s rhythm section – drummer Sam Lay and bassist Jerome Arnold – and formed The Paul Butterfield Blues band. By the mid-‘60s, legendary guitarist Mike Bloomfield had joined, and his and Bishop’s guitar’s propelled the group to the forefront of the white electric blues world.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

He remained with Butterfield for three albums before striking off on his own. Since then, has released seventeen studio and four live albums since 1969. His most popular period occurred during the mid-‘70s. His Struttin’ My Stuff was a huge commercial success and produced the number three single “Fooled Around and Fell In Love.”

He has now returned with studio album number eighteen. Red Dog Speaks is the nickname for his trusty 1959 Gibson ES-345 guitar. This guitar helps him present some blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and even some old doo-wop. On board to lend support are such musicians as Roy Gaines, Tommy Castro, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Kid Anderson, and the always welcome Buckwheat Zydeco.

The first track, “Red Dog Speaks,” sets the tone of the album. He introduces his old guitar friend and then swings into some gritty slow blues. “Get Your Hand Out Of My Pocket” clearly demonstrates that he has lost none of his guitar skills plus there is some nice harp work by John Nemeth. “Fat And Sassy” is old school Bishop as he provides the vocals and some classic slide guitar.

Two instrumentals are very strong performances and both include some more slide guitar. “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” is an old traditional gospel song that he jazzes up a bit with some brass in support. Kid Anderson provides some low guitar work. “The “Doo-Wop Medley” consisting of “In The Still Of The Night/Maybe” is a nice if unusual track by Bishop.

Elvin Bishop is the consummate professional. He does not try to overextend himself, nor does he travel too far from the strengths which he has developed during the past half century. It all adds up to a fine addition to this veteran’s catalogue.

Rating: B+

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