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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Paul Butterfield

Live in New York 1970 (new vinyl edition)

Review by Gary Hill

The sound quality on this album is great, particularly considering that live recordings in 1970 could be spotty. Of course, this was recorded for a radio broadcast, so that helps. This isn't precisely the same kind of music that Paul Butterfield did with his blues band. Yes, there is a lot of blues in the mix here, but the horns add a lot of jazz to the mix. However you label this thing, though, it's a great set. These guys really know how to jam.
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Track by Track Review

Born Under a Bad Sign

This comes in with a killer blues meets jazz arrangement. The harmonica adds a lot to the mix. After the extended introduction the horn section screams out to welcome the vocals. This is a powerhouse old school tune that works so well. The guitar soloing later in the track is purely incendiary. There is some serious harmonica soloing further down this musical road, too. It moves into a full jazz treatment from there. It eventually makes its way back to the song proper for the next set of vocals. Some seriously powered up jamming ensues beyond that, though, to take it forward. A final scorching chorus ends it in style.

Play On
This is a full on jazz treatment in a lot of ways. There is soul edge to it, too. I love the bass work on this piece. There is even a bass solo later in the track. The tune is high energy and very classy. That bass solo is very extensive and really quite cool. It screams out into a scorching jazz treatment at the end of that section. We get a return to the song proper from that point. The jamming later includes some hot harmonica playing and a killer rocking grind.

Driftin' Blues

A smoking hot blues grind opens this. This is electric blues turned rock and roll in so many ways. There are no big surprises on this cut. That said, it does have some definite jazz elements through the horns. There is an extensive unaccompanied harmonica solo mid-track, too. It comes back out into some scorching hot jamming from there. This thing is purely on fire.

Everything's Gonna Be Alright

Another smoking hot blues meets jazz stomper, this has some killer jamming. It's not a huge change at all, but it really works well.


The Boxer

There is perhaps a bit more jazz in the mix on this number. It is another screaming hot jam, though. This one has a drum solo set in the middle of it. I'm not a big fan of drum solos, but this one is pretty solid. It does seem to go on a bit long for my tastes. When they come screaming out of that, though, this almost feels like James Brown to me. It's a powerhouse jam for sure.

Stuck in the Countryside
I love the soul meets funk and jazz vibe to this high energy number. This is the most modern sounding thing to this point. It has some hints of psychedelic rock in some ways. It's a scorching hot number that really works well. I dig the harmonica soloing on this and the horn section really adds a lot to the piece.

Love March

There's a martial kind of beat at the start of this. The musicians get introduced as they create sort of jazz kind of vibe in the background. This is fun little jazz meets pop music jam with a cool vocal arrangement. This is just a fun sort of thing. It's the shortest cut here, too.

Back Together Again

We get another number with a lot of jazz in the mix. I like the up-tempo basis of this thing. It has more of a 1960s rock vibe in a lot of ways. In a lot of ways, the horns steal the show here. This is a great tune.

So Far So Good

Jazz, soul and more merge on this energized piece. There is even some world music in some of the soloing. I can make out some hints of Coltrane in some ways here. This is a powerhouse jam that's pretty fully set in the jazz style of sound. This is another that at times calls to mind James Brown, too. It's a real screaming hot number.

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