Even after his death, Paul Butterfield's music didn't receive the accolades that were so deserved. Outputting styles adopted from Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters among other blues greats, Butterfield became one of the first white singers to rekindle blues music through the course of the mid-'60s. His debut album, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, saw him teaming up with guitarists Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield, with Jerome Arnold on bass, Sam Lay on drums, and Mark Naftalin playing organ. The result was a wonderfully messy and boisterous display of American-styled blues, with intensity and pure passion derived from every bent note. In front of all these instruments is Butterfield's harmonica, beautifully dictating a mood and a genuine feel that is no longer existent, even in today's blues music. Each song captures the essence of Chicago blues in a different way, from the back-alley feel of "Born in Chicago" to the melting ease of Willie Dixon's "Mellow Down Easy" to the authentic devotion that emanates from Bishop and Butterfield's "Our Love Is Drifting." "Shake Your Money Maker," "Blues With a Feeling," and "I Got My Mojo Working" (with Lay on vocals) are all equally moving pieces performed with a raw adoration for blues music. Best of all, the music that pours from this album is unfiltered...blared, clamored, and let loose, like blues music is supposed to be released. A year later, 1966's East West carried on with the same type of brash blues sound partnered with a jazzier feel, giving greater to attention to Bishop's and Bloomfield's instrumental talents.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne