- Booty Bumpin'
- Elvin Bishop
- Blind Pig Records
Well, let’s make it clear: Elvin Bishop has been playing his brand of raunchy, funky, unpretentious, and risible blues for 5 decades, but he’s not nearly done yet! His new album, recorded live in Northern California in December 2006, churns and cooks!
Bishop’s life allegedly changed and his career in blues was ordained when he heard Jimmy Reed singing and blowing harp on his classic song, “Honest I Do.” Only a teenager then, Bishop became a guitar virtuoso within a few years and was part of the seminal and profoundly influential Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the 1960’s, first as accompanying guitarist with Mike Bloomfield and then carrying the torch himself as lead guitarist. Since embarking on his solo career in the late 1960’s, Bishop has combined the blues with disparate strains from other American music genres. Yet even as he “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” his roots in the blues have been consistently apparent.
“Booty Bumpin’ “ is a set of 12 tasty tunes with nods to jump blues, big band ensemble, New Orleans jazz, and gospel. The opening cut, “Stomp,” is an instrumental that sets the tone with a syncopated drum intro followed by a display of Bishop’s slide guitar prowess, ably backed by his tight band, including…yes, an accordion! There is little melody, but to describe it as danceable is an understatement. “Stealin’ Watermelons” follows: a funky tune with trombone, a background chorus abetting Bishop’s gritty vocal, some sterling piano playing by multiinstrumentalist Steve Willis, and a fine guitar solo by Mike Schermer. Next up is “Keep a Dollar in Your Pocket,” a mid-tempo Chicago blues (which sounds very similar to “Down Home Blues”). “What the Hell is Going On?” continues the mid-tempo groove and introduces Bishop’s notoriously wry sense of humor.
Then we’re on to “I Feel Alright Again,” with trombone solo and vocal by Ed Earley and a New Orleans flavor made even more piquant by another fiery Schermer guitar stretch-out. The title tune follows; in fact, it literally blasts off, with razzle-dazzle piano and great guitar interplay between Bishop and Schermer. (Unfortunately, the harmonica contribution of guest John Nemeth is almost inaudible.)
That’s only half the album! Still to come are more humor (“My Dog”), some slow, gut-bucket blues (“Belly Rubbin’ “) with a guitar solo reminiscent of Roy Buchanan — that’s definitely a compliment — and a gospel-flavored cut, “I’ll Be Glad,” with a deep rhythmic groove. “Blue Flame”, a slow instrumental, features guest guitarist Daniel Castro displaying his expertise in a style reminiscent of T-Bone Walker filtered through Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl and worthy of those illustrious role models. During the song Bishop advises the crowd to drive home carefully, but my guess is that nobody wanted to leave! The album closes with “I’m Gone,” an utterly infectious New Orleans stomp. In this album Elvin Bishop continues to deliver the goods.