Paul Butterfield — Live New York 1970
(ROC-3347, 1970/2017, 2LP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-10-19
In the last half of the 60s, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was omnipresent, playing every major venue coast to coast, bringing the blues to rock audiences along with artists like The Electric Flag, James Cotton, John Mayall, Ten Years After, Canned Heat, and so many others during that fertile period long before music became segmented and radio playlists became rigidly this or that. This excellent live set was recorded in December 1970 and simulcast on WLPJ in New York City after a long string of very successful studio album releases in the late 60s, including the self-titled debut, East-West, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, In My Own Dream, and Keep on Moving, as well as a 1970 double Live album recorded at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. The eight-piece band led by Butterfield (vocals and harmonica) included David Sanborn (alto sax), Gene Dinwiddie (tenor sax, flute, vocals), Trevor Lawrence (bari sax), guitarist Ralph Walsh, drummer Dennis Whitted, bassist Rod Hicks, and trumpeter Steve Madaio, nearly the same nine-piece lineup as the Troubadour album, sans keyboardist and a different drummer. The setlist includes some great blues standards that followed the band in nearly every set from that time period (“Driftin’ Blues,” “Born under a Bad Sign,” “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”) along with Hicks’ “So Far So Good” and “The Boxer,” “Love March” by Gene Dinwiddie and Phillip Wilson, and three Butterfield originals (“Back Together Again,” “Play On” and “Stuck in the Countryside”) the latter of which hadn’t appeared in a studio version previously. Here, unlike the studio albums which contained songs in the mostly three to four minute range, here the band is loose and fully animated, stretching everything out to epic length (“Driftin’ Blues” clocks in at nearly fifteen minutes!), and these players are on fire, Butterfield’s harp front and center. This has been available on CD for a couple years through another label (songs in different order) but this marks its first release as a double LP. If you love Chicago style blues, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Related artist(s): Paul Butterfield
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