Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Elvin Bishop Band Rock My Soul 1972

The Elvin Bishop Band Rock My Soul is an old gem from 1972. I probably have an irrational love of the record, but it is not without its merits. If you want an organically recorded, all-analog experience focused on swinging rock/R&B from the early seventies (this is really good stuff) it is peerless, and the vinyl sounds particularly good. I used the title cut as one of the tracks I auditioned speakers with when I bought my current speakers.

Rock My Soul kicks things off in fine style. The sound of the bass guitar on this track is classic, right there between Motown and Muscle Shoals. Not much deep bass, but the bass that is there is remarkably melodic with well-defined tone and pitch. The horn charts test a system's dynamics, and the organ near the end of the song will bring out the worst in a harsh speaker if it has any sibilance. And the song happens to be a gas, too.

Holler And Shout follows, and again we have a fine R&B/Rock classic full of organ and horns and featuring a smokin' hot sax solo. Let It Shine features Jo Baker, who takes lead vocal on almost half of the songs on the record, and it's a smoldering, sexy soul ballad done up right. Don't Mind If I Do is some of Bishop's aw-shucks good-time humor. A little goes a long way. Jo Baker returns to burn down Rock Bottom, an R&B rocker from Baker's pen. Last Mile is a slow instrumental featuring Bishop's slide guitar.

On side two the quality slides slightly, but it still rewards repeated listening. Have A Good Time is a better example of Bishop's good-time, laid back slacker vibe. Wings Of A Bird is Baker's big showcase, and she more than lives up to it. A slinky soul, slow-building ballad with a tasty Bishop guitar lead makes it a keeper for sure. Old Man Trouble finds Jo back at the microphone for a stomping soul-blues that reminds of the present-day Dap Kings, funky middle section and sax break included. Out Behind The Barn is saved by the New Orleans-styled horn charts, and the live instrumental Stomp is a hot guitar jam.

It might not make everybody's list, but it makes mine. Beautifully recorded, not quite musically perfect, it has it's weaker moments. But not enough weak moments to overshadow the transcendent moments in the title track, Holler And Shout, Let It Shine, Rock Bottom, Wings Of A Bird, and Old Man Trouble.

Some people wonder why this record is getting expensive on the used market, but not me. Elvin Bishop made some other good ones, but none that quite hit home like this one.

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