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December 2000

Elvin Bishop and Little Smokey Smothers
That's My Partner
Alligator Records

Elvin Bishop is another seasoned vet who still carries a lot of sting in his guitar and zing in his lyrics. On the title track from That's My Partner he and Chicago bluesman Little Smokey Smothers, a former sideman to Howlin' Wolf, trade wry lines like "I remember way back when I first came on the scene/You was square as a pool table and twice as green." On "Slow Down," Bishop addresses a need for middle-aged men to make a change of lifestyles: "Man, you better get off that alcohol, better get on that Geritol/Man, you better get off that cocaine, better get on the Rogaine." And on "The Skin They're In" he addresses the problems of racial intolerance. Back in 1960, when Bishop was a student visiting Chicago, Smothers took the young blues novice under his wing and taught him to play guitar. By 1963, Bishop would go on to notoriety with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band before breaking out as a solo artist in his own right while Smothers went to work on construction crews and as a longshoreman. Nearly 40 years after their first meeting, they are reunited on this live recording from Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco. Their shared sense of humor, easygoing stage demeanor and love of the blues permeate this goodtime disc.

Originally published in December 2000
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