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Rockpalast: Blues Rock Legends, Vol. 2 (Live)

Paul Butterfield Band

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Album Review

Paul Butterfield certainly had his demons. He abused alcohol, he became addicted to heroin, and he suffered from bouts of severe depression — all of which eventually made him less productive than he could have been. Butterfield wasn't as visible or as consistent in the late '70s as he had been in the 1960s, but even so, the singer/harmonica player had some creative triumphs during that period — and Butterfield is in very good form on this 68-minute CD, which focuses on a September 15, 1978 concert at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany. Although Butterfield had both physical and emotional problems in 1978, he rises to the occasion during an inspired and diverse set that includes a lot of blues-rock but doesn't focus on blues-rock exclusively. Butterfield shines as a blues-rocker on "New Walking Blues," "One More Heartache," "Goin' Down," and the Albert King-associated "Born Under a Bad Sign," but he favors more of a hard rock/arena rock outlook on "Fool in Love" and "It's Alright" — and there are major soul leanings on "Be Good to Yourself." Meanwhile, "Just When I Needed You the Most" is the closest the CD comes to pop/rock. Butterfield leads a rock-solid lineup in Essen, employing Peter Atanasoff and Buzzy Feiten on guitar, Bobby Vega on bass, and Ernest Carter on drums; this isn't the most famous lineup of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, but it's a respectable lineup — one that obviously appreciates Butterfield's versatility and has no problem handling a variety of songs. Although it falls short of essential and isn't recommended to casual listeners, this CD is a pleasing document of Butterfield's Essen performance.

Biography

Born: 17 December 1942 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Paul Butterfield was the first white harmonica player to develop a style original and powerful enough to place him in the pantheon of true blues greats. It's impossible to overestimate the importance of the doors Butterfield opened: before he came to prominence, white American musicians treated the blues with cautious respect, afraid of coming off as inauthentic. Not only did Butterfield clear the way for white musicians to build upon blues tradition (instead of merely replicating it), but his storming...
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