I’m getting old! I bought the original vinyl Raisin’ Hell back in 1977. I have always preferred Elvin Bishop live than in the studio. His sense of fun and exuberance translates better in a live setting. He is a consummate musician, and the concert stage is a better place to express himself than the confines of the studio.
He began his career during 1963 when he became a part of the legendary Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He remained with the band for five years before striking out on his own. He is best remembered for his series of 1970s albums for the Capricorn label, plus the hit single “Fooled Around And Fell In Love.” He has continued to release his brand of country blues and rock for over four decades.
This brings us and him to the 2010 Legendary Blues Cruise. Take a ship full of blues aficionados, provide them with a steady diet of blues musicians, and something good is bound to happen along the way. Elvin Bishop was one of those musicians and the resultant Elvin Bishop’s Raisin’ Hell Revue is a product of that cruise.
The album has a barroom feel as it is loose and raucous. He surrounds himself with a fine supporting cast. While Bishop has developed into a competent vocalist, it is his guitar expertise that has always made him a stand-out. He only takes the lead vocal on four of the thirteen tracks. Finis Tasby and John Nemeth provide most of the vocal work, which allows Elvin to concentrate on his guitar playing. Other musicians lending a hand are long time bandmate and sax player Terry Hanck, guitarist Chris Andersen, trombonist Ed Early, keyboardist Steve Willis, guitarist Bob Welsh, drummer Bobby Cochran, bassist Ruth Davies, and vocalist Lisa Leu Andersen. They all add up to a group of interchangeable parts that come together in a revue in the classic sense of the term.
The album is a career spanning retrospective of Bishop’s career. “Callin’ All Cows,” “Rock My Soul,” and his classic “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” are all updated from the first Raisin’ Hell album. The first of the three has the dueling slide guitars of Bishop and Welsh. Bishop’s slide solo on “Cryin’ Fool” is pure blues.
Songs such as “What The Hell Is Going On,” “The Night Time Is The Right Time,” “Down In Virginia,” and “Bye Bye Baby” explore such styles as blues, rock, up-tempo rhythm & blues, and even a little gospel thrown in for good measure. Throughout it all Bishop acts as the ringmaster for the circus swirling around him.
Elvin Bishop’s Raisin’ Hell Revue is a fine example of the good time music Elvin Bishop has been producing for over forty years. I doubt if his new album will change the face of rock or blues music but it sure is a fun ride.