I'm going to be honest. I am not familiar with Elvin Bishop's catalog after his tenure in the Butterfield Blues Band. Other than "Fooled Around and Fell In Love," Bishop's symbol in the southern fried rock scene of the 70s and later his early releases for Blind Pig had never even been a spot on my radar. Not because I didn't like Bishop because I do, but I just wasn't familiar with his work.
On the second track of this disc called "Stealing Watermelons," Bishop touts that he wrote this song before the "Dead Sea was sick" and that he was recording it "just in case anyone's 8-track had broken." Bishop doesn't disappointment with the kick off of this disc. "Stomp" a blues-rock drenched riffing instrumental that hearkens to the swamp blues of Slim Harpo at times with Bishop's stinging slide leads makes you want to do just exactly what the title suggests, stomp. "Watermelons" and apparent back catalog favorite is read beautifully here, again with catchy riffs, and Bishop's country & western tinged vocals. His phrasing is fun and apt for the tongue & cheek lyrics. I mean, Bishop never was sought after for his vocals, but throughout they are very adequate.
"Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket" starts up and is a sluggish shuffle with some more great lead work to kick off the song. This song also demonstrates that Bishop's vocals are better than what some give him credit for. Steve Willis' rollicking piano and backing vocals add a wonderful layer to the song, as well."What the Hell Is Going On" is socially conscious and demonstrates a depth of thought that is an interesting bleep in the radar to the otherwise fun, party-like record that had been rolling along up to that point, and rolls on afterwards. Bishop's slide work in the song, sounds mean and almost like a beast ready to pounce and eat throughout the song. Bishop's vocals, obviously running through a high impedance mic in the song, takes on growling textures. You can almost feel him shaking his fist at the world, as he almost sounds like he's ripping the strings on his guitar, begging them to break.
"Feelin' Alright Again" the title track to the album is a rollicking little number, almost perfect for a lazy summer day (despite the fact the record was recorded in December!).The song is exemplary to the fun and enjoyment that pours through from the record's ambiance. Trombone player Ed Earley adds some great trombone work as well as handling the vocals on this one.
"Booty Bumpin'" is the title track that's a wonderful little blues-rockin' instrumental with some great harmonica phrases by critically acclaimed new artist John Nemeth. Steve Willis gives some wonderful piano blues, handling the vocals on self-penned "Half Way Out the Door." "Belly Rubbin'" gives some more of the multi-dimensional guitar playing that Bishop seems to have stowed away throughout the album, giving a great slow blues number here. "I'll Be Glad" picks up the pace once again, going back to some of Bishop's early catalog again.
"Blue Flame" another slow blues number, this time on straight slide is about as close to traditional blues the album really gets and man, does it get it! The set finishes with a New Orleans' Allan Toussaint song "I'm Gone" that is an apt cap on a beautifully energized set by the veteran and his solid backing band.
The record doesn't fall victim to closely to what most live albums fall victim, getting bogged down in all out jamming free for alls that go on for 11 or 12 minutes. Not only is this record not do that, it is overly radio friendly with the longest track turning over in just over seven minutes. Bishop keeps his band evenly paced and it shows. The tracks near the end of the record do drag a tiny bit, but nothing worthy of dragging the excellence down in the process. If you are an Elvin Bishop fan, this one is a must-have. If you don't know who he is, buy this record. If you've had reservations about Bishop's idea of blues in the past, this one will put your doubts at rest. Overall, if you are looking for a record that is not bogged down with the "serious artist" motif that is amuck with pretentious ideas but looking for a fun party sound that demonstrates how much fun it is to play great music, this is the album for you.