Elvin Bishop – Can’t Even Do Wrong Right | Album Review

elvinbishopcd2Elvin Bishop – Can’t Even Do Wrong Right

Alligator Records


CD: 10 Songs; 39:44 Minutes

Styles: Blues Rock, Traditional Blues, Blues Covers

The cover art of icon Elvin Bishop’s latest album, created by Americana artist Paul Thorn, depicts a hilarious scene: Our hapless ‘hero’, with his pants down around his ankles, is caught between his naked mistress on one side and his club-wielding wife on the other. As California-born Bishop sings, “The dude Can’t Even Do Wrong Right!” He himself can do no almost no wrong as one of the most celebrated names in blues rock. He strikes just the right balance between traditional and postmodern tunes, both serious and humorous. Over the course of ten songs (five originals and five covers), he takes listeners on an uplifting journey through life.

With him are trombonist/background vocalist Ed Earley, drummer/background vocalist Ste, bassist Ruth Davies, Steve Willis on piano, accordion, and background vocals, and Bob Welsh on guitar, organ, bass and piano. Special guest stars include bassist Steve Evans, Willie Jordan on cajon and vocal harmony, drummer June Core, Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, and vocalists Mickey Thomas, Emily Bishop, Kristen Lindsat, and Susan McKay. With such a talented ensemble in place, their selections all have a timeless quality, even if some are brand-new. The three reviewed below are all fresh originals, despite their wonderfully classic sound.

Track 01: “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” – The opener and title track features a man named Maurice, who’s such an irresponsible idiot that he always ends up earning his comeuppance: “[He] jumped back in his ride, hit the highway, started to roll. He said, ‘100 miles an hour! Whoo! Look at me go!’ He thought he had everything under control, when the [police siren sound effects] – I’m talking ‘highway patrol’. He got caught…” Bishop’s spicy guitar riffs and bouncy backbeat by June Core propel this song to the right side of blues fans’ playlists.

Track 04: “Let Your Woman Have Her Way” – Mickey Thomas provides spectacular lead vocals in this lusty love song. “Nine times out of ten, all the trouble between women and men will all be okay. Let your woman have her way.” Steve Evans backs her up on the mic, and Elvin Bishop plays soulful organ. Note to couples: if the lady wants to take the floor, take this song’s advice.

Track 06: “Everybody’s In the Same Boat” – Elvin muses about longevity here, and what will eventually happen to all of us: “You know, if you are not old now, with any luck at all you will be old one of these days…I’m talking about everybody – you and me, kings and queens, the President and the Pope. Everybody’s in the same boat.” Steve Willis’ piano sizzles, and the refrain of this song is infectious.

Elvin Bishop has been performing for over half a century. He was seventy-one at the time of his new CD’s release this year, and he sure can do blues rock right!

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