That's My Partner!

That's My Partner!

by Elvin Bishop
     
 
Veterans of the '60s Chicago blues scene, Elvin Bishop and Little Smokey Smothers have been friends since those heady days of jumping South-and-West side clubs and blistering electric blues. Bishop, who was a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and had a pop hit with "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" in 1976,

Overview

Veterans of the '60s Chicago blues scene, Elvin Bishop and Little Smokey Smothers have been friends since those heady days of jumping South-and-West side clubs and blistering electric blues. Bishop, who was a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and had a pop hit with "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" in 1976, continued to play the blues from the West Coast, while Smothers left music for a construction job that would pay his family's bills. But the two have remained friends, and the live recording That's My Partner is proof that the two guitarists and singers are on the same wavelength. The raucous opening cut, "That's My Partner," tells the story of their relationships, while the classics "Roll Your Moneymaker" and "Little Red Rooster" attest to their feel for the music. Since both men are well into middle age, Bishop's humorous originals about facing mortality, "Slow Down" and "Middle Aged Man" are right up their alley. Smothers-penned tunes "Annie Mae" and "Pleading with You" are slower and a touch more soulful. The two take turns on lead vocals and guitar solos with Bishop's thick, dirty style playing counterpoint to Smothers' lean, clean but bent notes. Both men have rough-hewn singing styles. But no matter who takes the lead, That's My Partner is a tight session with the easy ambience of a family gathering.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bob Gottlieb
Every now and again you get one of those discs that picks up a few threads that have long lain dormant for various reasons, and you are more than overjoyed that someone took the time to help make the reconnections that seem to make life richer. Little Smokey took the young -- and new to Chicago -- Elvin Bishop under his wing in the early '60s and taught the kid everything, from playing blues guitar to how to walk the walk. It is well-documented how Bishop's career took off when he hooked up with Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield in the Butterfield Blues Band (setting the stage for all the other twin lead guitar bands such as the Allman Brothers Band that followed). Smokey remained in Chicago and virtually gave up trying to make a living playing music in favor of a job to support the family. With the kids grown, by the '80s he started playing again. In January 2000, the two hooked up again for three nights that would be recorded by Alligator. Maybe this was to say thank you for the early help; more likely -- judging by the playing -- it was a return of the early love between the two. It was more than worth the wait to hear the interplay of Elvin and Smokey, backed by a more-than-capable band (a nod to S.E. Willis on keyboards) that provides strong, solid support while letting the two stand to the forefront and play off each other. Bishop has always been known as a fun-loving musician; however, he takes his chops seriously, his playing is crisp, and -- as he shows here -- he is at his best when playing off an equal (listen to his signature "Travelin' Shoes"!). The joy of playing that deep-felt Chicago blues with an old friend and colleague and the chance for teacher and pupil to stand up and show off their licks and progress shine through here. The banter between the two helps to push the music along to greater heights. Just listen to this gutter-crawling version of Little Red Rooster. You know the Wolf would be proud.
Southwest Blues
That's My Partner is an album that succeeds on several fronts. Fans of Bishop will be pleased with the quality of his material on this album and blues fans in general will be blessed to have more of Little Smokey Smothers' music available.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/01/2000
Label:
Alligator Records
UPC:
0014551487425
catalogNumber:
514874
Rank:
110320

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