Paul Butterfield on harp. Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on guitars. Mark Naftalin on keyboards. Basic Chicago blues at first, later a horn section filling out the sound. It really doesn’t get a whole lot better than this, and, if you are a fan of the blues, you must go out and pick up this seminal collection of the Butterfield Band’s Elektra years.

Looking back, this group was together for much too short a period of time. The clash of other interests, life-styles and distractions broke them apart, but not before they left an indelible mark on popular music in the Sixties (historians will recall that most of the original band backed Bob Dylan when he "went electric" at Newport in 1965).

As the liner notes point out, Butterfield, along with Eric Clapton and others, was instrumental in bringing the Chicago blues sound out of the predominantly black clubs of the Windy City’s South Side, and exposing most of America to it. Picking his influences from Little Walter and Junior Wells, and, by the strength of his playing and interest, becoming Muddy Water’’ "adopted son," Butterfield’s band was, at one time, toe-tappingly basic, and, on the other hand, complex as hell (witness "East West" in this collection). This set is required listening for anyone interested in the blues.

- Mark T. Gould