The Butterfield Blues Band – The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw

The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw (1967)

A-

1. One More Heartache 2. Driftin’ And Driftin’ 3. Pity The Fool 4. Born Under A Bad Sign 5. Run Out Of Time 6. Double Trouble 7. Drivin’ Wheel 8. Droppin’ Out 9. Tollin’ Bells

 

Things are changing in Butter World, which you can probably tell from all the psychedelic colors on the cover and the fact that Paul has a David Crosby-style mustache on it. But the fact that they apparently started dropping acid (hey, everyone else was doing it. This is 1967 we’re talking about) is pretty much the least significant adjustment the Butterfield Blues Band made after East-West. They underwent a pretty sweeping transformation, in fact, in terms of personnel, musical style, and approach. The album’s jammy, big band soul-oriented sound represents an impressively complete revamping for these guys that’s as fully realized and formidable as it is unhitched from their original sound.

I guess the first order of business is lineup changes. Bloomfield left the band to get a break from touring and to form the Electric Flag. The rhythm section of Billy Davenport and Jerome Arnold followed him out the door, leaving only Butterfield, Mark Naftalin, and Elvin Bishop (whose nickname, Pigboy Crabshaw, gave this record its title. Sounds like he got it from that “blues name generator” website. They had the internet when this album was made, right?) from the band’s original incarnation. So they began plugging the holes, like a cork plugs a bottle of wine or Toby Keith’s boot plugs a hole in your ass. A whiteboy from Nebraska named Bugsy Maugh became the new bassist, and a jazz drummer named Phil Wilson rounded out the new rhythm section. They didn’t bother to replace Bloomfield, leaving all guitar duties in the more than capable hands of Bishop. But that’s not all! Paul went ahead and added a three-piece horn section that included David Sanborn, who later became known as the saxophonist in the original Saturday Night Live band! Isn’t that weird? But wait, there’s more! Paul’s harp tone is more naked and less fat and distorted than before, a shift akin to Eric Clapton retiring his hairy-chested Les Paul tone in Cream for a thinner-sounding Strat. So although he still tears up some ass throughout the record (and by “tear up some ass” I mean blow through holes in a little hunk of metal in dexterous fashion), for the first time on a Butterfield record, a far greater emphasis is placed on his vocal performances (which are wailing and soulful, at times slipping into a falsetto that recalls Freddie King) than on either harp or guitar playing.

So basically this is almost a completely different band. But don’t worry! It’s still a good one! I know since it’s mostly white guys playing soul and R&B with horns as the dominant instruments in the late 60s, all you can think of are you dad’s (or shit, maybe your grandpa’s… this stuff came out a long time ago, man) old Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago records that you wish he’d stop blasting at home all the damn time so you can listen to the Pixies for once. But while this album does have a hint of that bloated free and loose and far out, man “OK, everybody take a solo now” element to it (manifested most obviously on the aptly-titled, nine-minute “Driftin’ And Driftin’”), it’s not really that kind of record. I just can’t get over how catchy all the horn lines are! They’re not just loudly blaring chords for “emphasis,” or playing aimless solos, they’re playing tightly arranged riffs that often carry the melody of these songs. You try getting the main brass riffs of “Pity The Fool,” “Driftin’ And Driftin’,” or “Double Trouble” out of your head after a couple of listens! You won’t be able to! Because I lodged a CD copy of The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw deep into your temple. It’s in there pretty good. You’re probably gonna need a couple of paramedics and a good pair of pliers to get it out.

If you want highlights, and I’m guessin’ you do, I would be more than happy to direct you to the jivin’, basstastic Smokey Robinson cover “One More Heartache,” the peppy earworm original “Run Out Of Time,” the always-awesome Albert King classic “Born Under A Bad Sign,” and the heavy, thumping brooder “Tollin’ Bells.” The sound is full, clear, and the songs are all expertly played and arranged. As far as the kind of stuff old people thought was hip and cutting edge when they were 17 (“Dude! Horns! Mind blown!” *takes toke*), this is pretty darn good.



One Comment

  1. victoid wrote:

    I just finished reading your whimsical Easter extravaganza post, which helped facilitate the release of excess bilious gas with each chortle and guffaw. Then, turning to your compendium of sounds of the late, lamented yet immortal Paul Buttah, my stuck-in-the sixties flashback alert zoomed to “Resurrection” in the album title. Coincidence? There are no coincidences in 60’s World, only endless webs of connection.

    The title could well have been named for JC instead of Elvin, i.e.: The Resurrection of Jesus Crabshaw for example. Really, I bet Hayzeus listens to the first five tracks in eternal perpetuity as touchstones for his own condition; speshly Born Under a Bad Sign, and One (or 4 billion) More Heartache(s), while sobbing uncontrollably into his whatever-they-drink-to-get-plastered around there.

    Wouldn’t anyone whose church was led by Ratzy Brown Shirt and Frankie Dirty War feel a bit morose?
    I for one am far more secure in my religious devotion to Butterfield.


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