In My Own Dream

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band / Paul Butterfield

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In My Own Dream Review

by Bruce Eder

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's In My Own Dream -- their fourth official release -- marked the point where the band really began to lose its audience, and all for reasons having nothing to do with the quality of their music. They'd gotten past the loss of Michael Bloomfield in early 1967 (which had lost them some of their audience of guitar idolaters) with the engagingly titled (and guitar-focused) Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw. In My Own Dream has its great guitar moments, especially on "Just to Be with You," but throughout the album, Elvin Bishop's electric guitar shares the spotlight with the horn section of Gene Dinwiddle, David Sanborn, and Keith Johnson, who had signed on with the prior album and who were more out in front than ever. More to the point, this album represented a new version of the band being born, with shared lead vocals, and the leader himself only taking three of the seven songs, with bassist Bugsy Maugh singing lead on two songs, Bishop on one, and drummer Phillip Wilson taking one. What's more, there was a widely shared spotlight for the players, and more of a jazz influence on this record than had ever been heard before from the group. This was a band that could jam quietly for five minutes on "Drunk Again," building ever so slowly to a bluesy crescendo where Bishop's guitar and Mark Naftalin's organ surged; and follow it with the title track, a totally surprising acoustic guitar-driven piece featuring Sanborn, Dinwiddle, and Johnson. The playing is impressive, especially for a record aimed at a collegiate audience, but the record had the bad fortune of appearing at a point when jazz was culturally suspect among the young, an elitist and not easily accessible brand of music that seemed almost as remote as classical. "Get Yourself Together" was almost too good a piece of Chicago-style blues, a faux Chess Records-style track that might even have been too "black" for the remnants of Butterfield's old audience. It also anticipated the group's final change of direction, when it blossomed into a multi-genre blues/jazz/R&B/soul outfit, equally devoted to all four genres and myriad permutations of each.

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