Artist: Paul Butterfield
Title: Live New York 1970
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Rockbeat Records
Genre: Chicago Blues, Blues Rock
Total Time: 82:26
Total Size: 530 MB
01. Born Under A Bad Sign (Live) (12:10)
02. Pay On (Live) ( 9:30)
03. Driftin' Blues (Live) (14:47)
01. The Boxer (Live) ( 9:55)
02. Everything's Gonna Be Alright (Live) ( 8:05)
03. Stuck In The Countryside ( 6:04)
04. Love March (Live) ( 5:46)
05. Back Together Again (Live) ( 5:31)
06. Stage Announcer (Live) ( 0:15)
07. So Far So Good (Live) (10:14)
This double CD presents an 82 minute set by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band recorded and radio broadcast from A&R Studios in New York City in front of an audience in December 1970. The lineup is Paul Butterfield on vocals and harmonica, David Sanborn on alto sax, Gene Dinwiddie on soprano sax, Trevor Lawrence on baritone sax, Steve Madaio on trumpet, Ralph Wash on guitar, Rod Hicks on bass guitar, and Dennis Whitted on drums. This is mostly the same lineup that recorded the Elektra label live album the previous March at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, with a couple of personnel changes; only Hicks remained from the Detroit crew, with pianist Teddy Harris departing, and drummer George Davidson replaced by Whitted.
There is no doubt that the BBB took a big hit when Mike Bloomfield left, but the group shifted musical direction by adding a horn section. In fact, very few bandleaders could assemble this kind of talent without feeling threatened, but with Paul Butterfield, it was the musical vision that mattered. Though the BBB only lasted about six years, each lineup and new album represented a progression in the blues idiom, synthesizing and rearranging elements of blues, soul, rock, and jazz into something new and exciting. This final powerhouse BBB combo was arguably the best lineup outside of the Bloomfield/Bishop/Lay/Davenport groups. A big part of the problem with the 1969-71 band was that it's studio albums paled before it's dynamic live performances.
While the live Elektra album has better sound and even a bit of an edge in the performances, this recording is absolutely essential. There are very few decent sounding recordings of this band and this set also includes some material not even on the expanded Rhino Handmade and Wounded Bird reissues of the Elektra Live album. First off, the band's cover of Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" fades out after 5 minutes on all the editions of BBB Live, while here it is stretched out to 12 minutes, displaying the band in it's improvisational glory. There is also a performance of the smoking groove on "Countryside", a song recorded live by Butterfield's subsequent band, Better Days, but without horns. There is also a live performance of "Play On", which would appear on the BBB's 1971 Elektra studio LP.
This last mentioned track features an incendiary bass "solo" by Rod Hicks that isn't really a solo, since he was playing what he played through the rest of the track, only with the band sitting out. Hicks was arguably the musical engine of this lineup, his seething, bubbling jazz-inflected playing providing a high-energy underpinning for all the wild blowing by Butter, Wash, and the horn players. Another highlight is band's performance of Hicks's "So Far, So Good" in it's psychedelic live arrangement, featuring raga-influenced rhythms and a Coltrane modal jazz influenced soprano sax solo (by Dinwiddie, I believe), bringing back the musical explorations of East-West. Man, there wasn't anything these guys couldn't play!
The sound is good, with all the instruments and vocals clear and well mixed. ~Stewart Hickey