In 1971 Paul Butterfield disbanded the group he had founded and led since 1963, and The Butterfield Blues Band was no more. He then moved to Woodstock, which was a haven for rock musicians at the time (its residents included The Band and Van Morrison), and he quickly made friends throughout the community. Before long a new band was being formed, as he was joined by guitarist Amos Garrett, drummer Chris Parker, bassist John Kahn, organist Merl Saunders, and Geoff and Maria Muldaur, who had been members of Jim Keweskin's Jug Band in the 60s, and had also recorded together as a duo. This group worked on the soundtrack for the film Steelyard Blues, before Saunders and Kahn left and were replaced by Ronnie Barron (a veteren New Orleans pianist) and Billy Rich (who had played for Buddy Miles Express and Taj Mahal). Maria Muldaur also dropped out at this time as she broke up with Geoff, and she went on to a successful solo career.
Now calling themselves Paul Butterfield's Better Days, the final lineup thus consisted of Butterfield (vocals/harmonica), Geoff Muldaur (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Ronnie Barron (vocals/keyboards), Amos Garrett (lead guitar), Billy Rich (bass) and Chris Parker (drums). They were signed to Albert Grossman's local Bearsville label, where they also met Bobby Charles, a Louisianan songwriter who had also come to Woodstock to hide away and ended up recording for Grossman.
Their album came out in 1973, showcasing a great range of blues styles from urban to rural. The vocals were shared equally between Butterfield, Muldaur and Barron, the latter two in particularly proving to be excellent singers. The songs included covers of Percy Mayfield's classic "Please Send Me Someone To Love", Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues" (which Butterfield had also recorded with his old band back in '66), Nick Gravenites' "Buried Alive In The Blues" and Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go", plus a funky R&B number from Barron, and "Done A Lot Of Wrong Things", a brilliant song given to them by Bobby Charles. Maria also returned to help out with backing vocals. With brilliant musicianship all round, and brassy horn arrangements on some songs, the result was a rootsy R&B masterpiece. It got a good critical response, but it was never going to be a massive seller, leaving it as a true lost classic of the 70s.
|> It All Comes Back (1973)
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