In the late 1960’s and into the early 1970’s, the duo of Michael Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield were up and coming artists in the blues/rock/soul genre. This double-disc set does not include Bloomfield, but it does showcase Butterfield’s considerable chops as a singer and harmonica player. He is in fine voice throughout the 10 tracks recorded in December 1970 at A&R Studios in New York for a radio broadcast. Backed by a top-flight band which included saxman David Sanborn and the muscular horn section including Gene Dinwiddie, Trevor Lawrence and Steve Madaio along with a steady beat from drummer Dennis Whitted. Bassist Rod Hicks and guitarist Ralph Walsh round out the band which laid down this set before a live studio audience.
While the sound is a little dated, after all this was 1970 technology, nothing mutes the powerhouse performance starting with a solid rendition of Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which stretches out over more than 12 ear-satisfying minutes. The groove continues through the cool “Play On” and a re-working of the blues standard “Driftin’ Blues” with it slowly building intensity.
The second LP starts off with “The Boxer” which is penned by bassist Hicks and that funky soul beat which would certainly have gotten people up to shake it on the dance floor. The band really hits their stride with a playful “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” from Big Walter Horton featuring Butterfield blowin’ his harp like a madman. More funkified blues comes in “Stuck in the Countryside,” “Love March” follows in a solid groove worthy of its own spotlight. Equally fine renditions of “Back Together Again” and “So Far So Good” round out this show with the latter a mind melting 10 minutes of music sure to make your ears happy.
All in all, Paul Butterfield’s ‘Live New York 1970’ would be a fine addition to your collection if you are a fan of Butterfield or like the funk/soul/blues of the era. And that, was one of the good things of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s – musicians were free to experiment and jam to their liking instead of being pigeonholed like today’s music.
~ Reviewed by freelance writer Jim Hudnut