In the mid-60's there were two names in white boy blues that stood out -John Mayall in the UK and Paul Butterfield in the USA. It's easy to lay your hands on umpteen Mayal albums and collections, less so for Butterfield who was, arguably, the more authentic (by having racially diverse bands from the very beginning). Now, however, anyone interested in checking out Butterfield can lay their hands on this excellent introduction to this artist.
It perceptively creams off the best of his Elektra albums, presenting the tracks in chronological order which shows Butterfield and the band's development from its rootsiest blues to experiments with jazz fusion and raga. Like Mayall in the UK, he utilised a succession of great musicians: terrific rhythm sections including Jerome Arnold, Sam Lay,and Billy Davenport; hotshot guitarists and keyboard players including Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, and Mark Naftalin; and later a horn section which included David Sanborn; plus, of course, Butterfield himself as lead vocalist and the only harp player the band ever needed. The 24-page booklet includes an excellent account of the band's history, full track details, and a few photos.
Any complaints? Only Amazon's current excessive price. You can buy the download for far less but then you miss out on the booklet which is an essential part of the package, so I would recommend you do as I did and buy a copy from Amazon Marketplace. And buy it you should because it represents a pinnacle in one corner of modern music. This really is great stuff.
Paul Butterfield was a tremendous musician, one of the great harmonica players of his era. He died tragically long, having succumbed to drug and alcohol addiction. This anthology of recordings of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band which covers the era 1965 - 1971 distils the best recordings from the band in that era. The musical acumen and sheer power of the performances on display here show Butterfield's command of the Blues idiom and his ability to harness some mercurial musical talents, in the shape of guitarists Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. The first two Butterfield Blues Band albums - the self titled debut and it's follow-up, East / West, are probably worth owning in their own right, but this double set represents very good value for money, and is infinitely rewarding. Good packaing, sleeve notes and top-notch sound only add lustre to the music. Blues music played wit passion, feeling and flair - wonderful stuff