Personnel: Elvin Bishop (vocals, guitar); Paul Butterfield (vocals, harp); Mike Bloomfield (guitar); Mark Naftalin (organ); Billy Davenport (drums).
Liner Note Author: Chris Morris .
Recording information: Unicorn Coffee House, Boston, MA (05/1966).
Thanks to the dedicated effort of the folks at Real Gone, this often bootlegged date by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band gets its first official release. These 13 tracks come from a smoking date at the Unicorn Coffee House in Boston. Nobody's sure of the exact date, but estimates put it somewhere during a two-week run in May, two months before the band's classic East-West was released. There's over an hour of music on what amounts to the first recorded document from this sextet: hard-grooving Chicago drummer Billy Davenport (Sam Lay left after the band's debut album) joined vocalist/harmonicist Butterfield, guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, organist Mark Naftalin, and bassist Jerome Arnold. Featuring takes from two sets, the material contains tunes from the self-titled 1965 date, East-West, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, and unissued music. The sound quality is quite raw but more than suffices in presenting this band firing on all cylinders.
A brief medley of themes titled "Instrumental Intro" is followed by a rocking "Look Over Yonders Wall" and "Born in Chicago," before slowing down to a simmer on the standard "Love Her with a Feeling." A live rendition of Allen Toussaint's funky soul-blues "Get Out of My Life, Woman" gets a premiere here, as does Smokey Robinson's "One More Heartache." The group's improvisational bona fides are displayed amply on the first set closer, a 12-and-a-half-minute instrumental read of Nat Adderley's "Work Song." After Butterfield states its theme, Bloomfield's solo explores Eastern modalism, hard bop, Chicago blues, soul-jazz, and rock; it sets a blueprint for his bandmates' breaks that follow. Set two's kickoff track is another vehicle for improv, the uptempo blues "Coming Home Baby." It winds out over seven minutes and bleeds the seam toward jazz. Though brief, a previously unreleased reading of Percy Mayfield's "Memory Pain" cooks with soulful intensity. The title track is a longer, slower, brooding Chicago blues with excellent work by Naftalin and Bloomfield, before swaggering covers of "Walking by Myself" and "Got My Mojo Working" close out the volume. Veteran journalist Chris Morris provides excellent liner notes, while semi-rare photos round out this handsome package, making Got a Mind to Give Up Living: Live 1966 a completely necessary addition to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's authorized shelf. ~ Thom Jurek
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