The Butterfield Blues Band – Keep On Moving

Keep On Moving (1969)


1. Love March 2. No Amount Of Loving 3. Morning Sunshine 4. Losing Hand 5. Walking By Myself 6. Except You 7. Love Disease 8. Where Did My Baby Go 9. All In A Day 10. So Far, So Good 11. Buddy’s Advice 12. Keep On Moving


Baseball season starts on Monday and I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that the Yankees are probably going to suck this year. As would any team suffering from such a rampant injury bug that their opening day lineup will likely include the likes of Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Chris Stewart. Funny thing is, Paul Butterfield faced a similar dilemma in 1969. Just as the Yankees face the daunting challenge of playing a large portion of the season without Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and A-Roid, Butterfield had to grapple with the departures of band members Elvin Bishop, Mark Naftalin, and Bugsy Maugh. In fact, with this fresh round of players declaring free agency, Paul himself was now the sole remaining member of the original Butterfield Blues Band lineup. So Paul made some crucial signings, including talented young guitar prospect Buzz Feiten and grizzled veteran Jerry Ragovoy and proceeded on a barnstorming 1969 campaign before losing to the New York Mets in World Series. But they did manage to record a strong album called Keep On Moving along the way! Maybe there’s hope for my Yankees yet.

Actually, most Butterfield fans that I know of hold some level of disdain for Keep On Moving, considering it a further seemingly irretractable step in the drift away from the band’s sound and reason for existing that began with The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw and In My Own Dream. And, basically, it is. However, unlike the mostly dreary, dull, and draggy In My Own Dream, Keep On Moving is full to bursting with catchy and exuberant soul-pop and blues songs. And yeah, this is basically a brand new band, but it’s a very one good that plays with a verve not heard behind Butterfield since Mike Bloomfield left the band. That’s due in large part to the aforementioned new hotshot guitarist/wunderkind Buzz Feiten, who later went on to design some sort of famous guitar tuning device. Good for him.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though. This lineup still has nothing on the old band, if only because the old band would never, ever record something as vomitous as “Love March.” OK, first imagine a circus trumpet-based hippie chant so dippy and slight it makes the Rolling Stones’ “Sing This All Together” sound like a Slayer song by comparison (featuring lyrics like “Marching along, thinking as time goes by/Sing a glad song, sing all the time”). Then imagine it being interrupted in the middle by a pseudo-serious gospel-style bridge for no reason whatsoever. Congratulations! You have just imagined a terrible song that leads me to believe all hippies were retarded after all! Fortunately, it sounds not whit like anything else on the album, considering the fact that it was written and sung by drummer Phil Wilson and multi-instrumentalist Gene Dinwiddie. Just pretend it doesn’t exist.

The rest of the album, a collection of mostly original songs composed by various members of the band, is a rip roarin’ good time, with guitar and horns vying for equal prominence in a synthesis of soul, R&B, blues, and rock, like a less funky, poppier version of Sly & the Family Stone (or maybe a more funky and less poppy and generally gross version of Three Dog Night or something. Whatever floats your boat). Variations from this formula include one awesome early 70s chest hair road rock song (“Where Did My Baby Go”), one piano soul ballad (Butterfield’s title track, which is very well done aside from Paul’s vocals, which waver in and out of tune a bit too much for my taste, or the taste of anyone who cares about the notion of “singing in tune”), one jiving, straight up Chicago blues the likes of which we’ve not heard since the heady days of East-West (Jimmy Rogers’ 1955 hit “Walking By Myself”), and one terrible mawkish 50s-style ballad that they stuck a totally out of place upbeat bridge in that sounds just like the rest of the album, only further compounding the song’s overall shittiness (“Except You,” written by Jerry Ragovoy, who also wrote “Time Is On My Side”).

Everything else is just so fun and melodic, I don’t understand why anyone would consider it on an equal level to the mopey drag that is In My Own Dream. Sure, Paul plays much less harp than ever before, but he sings lead on every track except for that first one we decided to pretend doesn’t exist, Buzz Feiten is an exciting guitarist and is featured a lot more prominently than Elvin Bishop was on the previous two albums, and the songs are darn catchy! I say two thumbs up (your butt)!

Haha. I said “two thumbs up (your butt).” Isn’t that hilarious, you guys?

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