Sunday, 7 March 2010

“Original Album Series” by THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND. A Review of the 2010 5CD Mini Box Set on Rhino/Elektra.

“…Blues With A Feeling…”

Aping the success of Sony's similarly packaged 5CD box sets, WEA is releasing over FORTY x 5CD "Original Album Series" mini box sets of their own. Issued in the UK and Europe, the artists featured stretch from rhythm 'n' blues icons of the 1950s (Ray Charles and Clyde McPhatter with The Drifters) all the way through to Metal And Indie bands of the 2000s (Dokken and Echo & The Bunnymen). For those interested, I've compiled a full listing of titles in the series at the base of this review (some are superb, some are not).

Here's the fine-detail for THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND set - released Monday 1 March 2010 in the UK (9 March in the USA) on Warner Brothers/Rhino 8122 79834 0, "Original Album Series" 5CD box set breaks down as follows (all Stereo mixes):

Disc 1 is "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band" their 11-track debut album released December 1965 on Elektra EKS 7294 in the USA (38:09 minutes)

Disc 2 is "East-West" their 9-track 2nd album released October 1966 on Elektra EKS 7315 in the USA (44:57 minutes)

Disc 3 is "The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw" their 9-track 3rd album released January 1968 on Elektra EKS 74015 in the USA (45:45 minutes)

Disc 4 is "In My Own Dream" their 7-track 4th album released August 1968 on Elektra EKS 74025 in the USA (34:30 minutes)

Disc 5 is "Keep On Moving" their 12-track 5th album released October 1969 on Elektra EKS 74053 in the USA (42:11 minutes)

The five single card sleeves reflect the 'original' front and rear US LP artwork (the gatefolds are unfortunately not reproduced). Also each front sleeve is now 'bordered' with a color and the label on the CD then reflects that color code – Green for Disc 1, Light Blue for 2, Orange for 3, Dark Blue for 4 and Brown for 5. It would have been more appropriate to have the original label color configurations – even the Elektra inner bags, but alas... The track list is to the left on the CD label with band members and recording credits listed on the right (as there’s no booklet nor site to download details from – as there is on the Sony issues – this is some compensation to the lack of readable details).

The box it has to be said is lightweight (unlike the glossy hard-card Sony issues) and disappointingly flimsy. Having said all that, the card sleeves still look cool once out of the box and it's nice to see the original artwork used (it makes such a big difference on the Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Drifters and Clyde McPhatter rear sleeves - beautiful original album artwork).

Some CD sites selling these sets seemed to have automatically 'presumed' that each is "digitally remastered", but it categorically does NOT state that on the outer box or any of the card sleeves or discs - and rather too conveniently - neither website for Rhino USA or UK has any info on the series at all. But as these albums have been remastered before – it’s obvious from the great sound - that’s what you get here – bluesy and ballsy – they’re really full and warm (unlike the Little Feat, Bread, Los Lobos, Chris Rea and Rickie Lee Jones sets which are just 80’s discs repackaged – see my Little Feat box set review with regard to this). The first two albums feature Mike Bloomfield on guitar with Elvin Bishop contributing guitar on all bar the last [Buzzy Fetton].

If you want a slice of Sixties Blues-Rock, then you can’t go much wrong with these albums (although for me the quality really tapers off on Disc 5). US fans who already own these treasured LPs on previous CD incarnations may baulk at acquiring this box set just to have those dinky little card sleeves, but once you see them, you may not be able to resist! Others however should just dive in and enjoy…

I just wish some of the other boxes were as good (presentation and soundwise) as this…

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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