Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Elvin Bishop

  • Juke Joint Jump [Capricorn, 1975] B
  • The Best of Elvin Bishop: Crabshaw Rising [Epic, 1975] B-
  • Struttin' My Stuff [Capricorn, 1976] B+
  • Hometown Boy Makes Good [Capricorn, 1977] C+
  • Raisin' Hell [Capricorn, 1977] A-
  • Hog Heaven [Capricorn, 1978] B+
  • Big Fun [Alligator, 1988] B+
  • Don't Let the Bossman Get You Down! [Alligator, 1991] *
  • Ace in the Hole [Alligator, 1995] Choice Cuts
  • Can't Even Do Wrong Right [Alligator, 2014] *
  • Elvin Bishop's Big Fun Trio [Alligator, 2017] ***

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Juke Joint Jump [Capricorn, 1975]
Elvin's solo albums started coming out in 1969, but this is the first one this fan ever wanted to hear twice. Nothing spectacular, that would violate his sense of propriety--just rocking with a steady roll, perfect for admirers of Robert E. Lee if a mite laid-back for Broadway Bob. Nice to hear a National Merit Scholar make good. B

The Best of Elvin Bishop: Crabshaw Rising [Epic, 1975]
This ain't the best--just a half-and-half selection from his CBS days, before he really had a best. The good stuff, especially "Rock My Soul," cuts a fine Saturday-night groove. The rest sounds forced, like an early show Thursday. B-

Struttin' My Stuff [Capricorn, 1976]
Usually, when someone tells you an album ain't nuthin' but good old rock and roll, that means it ain't nuthin'. This is the exception. After singing (and playing) the blues for ten years, Elvin makes like he was born to boogie. Completing his Marin-to-Macon switch by recording at Criteria in Miami instead of the Record Plant in Sausalito, he here provides Capricorn with enough hooks to keep the Brothers gone fishin for the next decade. All very debrained, of course, but the first side never stops, and if the title cut isn't the label's first top-ten song since "Ramblin' Man," either my name ain't Juke Box Johnny or "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" got there first. B+

Hometown Boy Makes Good [Capricorn, 1977]
Elvin sounds like he's on automatic, Mickey Thomas sounds like he wants to be a rock and roll star, and this album sounds like it might fly apart if you were to spin it at forty-five by mistake. It's still fun, I guess. But not enough fun. C+

Raisin' Hell [Capricorn, 1977]
This live double-LP, four sides of strong material unmarred by a single extraneous show of chops, reveals why Elvin's good-time music is actually fun. Would Charlie Daniels or Richie Furay think to rouse a crowd by announcing: "Remember, this is not a rock concert, it's a cultural event--we won't have anybody raisin' their voices and gettin' rowdy"? Uh-uh--they'd be afraid it would backfire, and with them it might. A-

Hog Heaven [Capricorn, 1978]
Bishop is a road musician. He doesn't knock himself out making Great Albums, but he doesn't get all twisted up racing after Breakthrough Hits, either. He doesn't even Promote Product much--on tour, he mentioned this LP only when he did a song from it, which happened once. Too bad, actually--with Amos Garrett on second lead guitar and Maria Muldaur on second lead vocal, these songs are solid boogie indeed, and I would have liked to hear an in-person version of how he outgrew his brassiere. B+

Big Fun [Alligator, 1988]
Where his pint-sized labelmates give themselves hernias rocking the house, the bluesman-turned-hayseed tells some jokes and takes it easy. Nor is he relaxing on his royalties--if you don't believe not getting riled is a spiritual thing with him, just mind his guitar. B+

Don't Let the Bossman Get You Down! [Alligator, 1991]
Mr. Entertainment ("My Whiskey Head Buddies," "Soul Food") *

Ace in the Hole [Alligator, 1995]
"Another Mule Kickin' in Your Stall" Choice Cuts

Can't Even Do Wrong Right [Alligator, 2014]
(Folksy) (University of) Chicago bluesman holds onto his chops--also his wits, except about the internet ("Everybody's in the Same Boat," "Let Your Woman Have Her Way") *

Elvin Bishop's Big Fun Trio [Alligator, 2017]
At 75, reformed National Merit Scholar and University of Chicago physics major keeps on rolling like it ain't no thing ("Keep On Rollin'," "100 Years of Blues," "That's What I'm Talkin' About") ***