Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite

100 Years Of Blues

Decades of commitment to the blues gets seniors loads of respect. It gets them a free pass, too, with undeserved praise lavished on mediocre performances. But Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite, both a few years shy of 80, are deserving of accolades.

Friends since the 1960s when on the Chicago blues scene, they hadn’t made a full album together until now. The two are masters of style, delivery, ironic humor, dramatic flair and an instinctive understanding of 12-bar music. There’s a poignant directness to the lead vocals by the pair, whether it’s Musselwhite wisely sizing up of his life on “Blues For Yesterday” or Bishop slathering “Birds Of A Feather” with communicative good vibes. The lyricism of Musselwhite’s harmonica is striking in its weight and knowledge throughout, and first-rate guitarist Bishop plays with real feeling. There’s a lean intensity to the music here, knocking the accumulated dust off songs by Sonny Boy Williamson, Roosevelt Sykes and Leroy Carr, plus confidently handling eight of their own songs. All told, their flame is far from extinguished.

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