Paul Butterfield

Live

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For the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, this two-LP set proved that it all came down to Butterfield himself and his abilities as a leader in the end. For all of the adulation heaped on Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, et al., the group was ultimately an extension of Butterfield's abilities as a leader and player, and this set proved that Butterfield and the bandmembers he had assembled in 1971 had more than two LPs' worth of live playing in them that was worth releasing and worth buying. And that wasn't the half of it -- talk about ironies -- at the time the Paul Butterfield Blues Band recorded this live album, they were at their peak as a concert act; they were getting all the bookings they wanted at the best clubs in the biggest cities in the country, and a lot of other places as well, in front of enthusiastic audiences who were devouring their blues-jazz-rock-R&B hybrid sound as fast as they could pump it out on-stage. They just weren't selling many records, which was why few people ever got to hear this album. The four-man horn section and the single guitar are a long way from the band that dazzled audiences six years earlier on East-West, or at Monterey in 1967; this is big-band Chicago blues with a jazz base and a killer sound, ranging all over the musical map without peer. In the midst of all of those seemingly louder instruments blowing away, however, one can still find a great showcase for Butterfield's blues harp on numbers like Big Walter Horton's "Everything's Gonne Be Alright." The sound, recorded on then state-of-the-art equipment at the L.A. Troubadour, is excellent and the performances are as tight as anything ever delivered by the band, in many ways fulfilling the promise of the longer numbers represented on their earlier studio albums. The original double LP is still worth finding for vinyl enthusiasts. [In 2004, an expanded edition of the album was released on CD by Rhino Handmade with an additional 70 minutes of music on it.]

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