The Butterfield Blues Band - The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw

This album is the first Paul Butterfield record after Mike Bloomfield left to start the Electric Flag.

The mighty Elvin Bishop steps forward on lead guitar, there's a horn section that features a young David Sanborn and the whole affair is a slight step sideways from the experimental nature of East West's title tune. But it's great, and it's the album that got me interested in trying to write horn charts for my prepubescent blues band.

I can't actually read notes the way one should be able to. I have tried since Pigboy Crabshaw to use staff paper for something other than artwork, but I have a long-standing mental block that has yet to fall. Maybe, had I had piano lessons as a kid, I would find notation comprehensible, but I didn't and it isn't.

Never stopped me from trying, though. Simple straight blues tunes like "Drivin' Wheel" with their simple horn arrangements were my initial projects. Someone clued me in to the fact that writing charts for alto and tenor saxophones and trumpets required writing them out in keys other than the one that the song is in. So I struggled with Eb and Bb, trying to make sense of incidentals that popped up constantly. At least I was playing snare drum in my school orchestra by then (alongside Will Rigby), so I had a little better idea how to write the rhythm of the notes. But it was still no picnic, and heaven only knows what it must've sounded like, had it been played.

It never really mattered anyway as none of my little band class pals tried to read my charts. My blues band was two guitarists and a drummer. We couldn't recruit any of our make-learny trumpet- and sax-playing classmates for our weekend rehearsals, so any horn-driven tunes we tried to learn ended up probably sounding thin and small. It hardly was of consequence because we never played outside of our living rooms.

But we wanted to, believe me; we didn't see that as an impossibility at twelve, naively enough. It would take a couple more years, until 1970 when I stood next to Chris Stamey in the orchestra pit at R.J. Reynolds High School auditorium, looking up at the second incarnation of Rittenhouse Square (a band I would later join) that I made the connection between seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and what local bands could accomplish in town. When I did, it was all over; any dreams of being a NASCAR driver or minister evaporated.

I've digressed from the Butterfield album at hand, but it's another one that still sounds great years later. The Marvin Gaye song "One More Heartache" kicks the album into gear, another song that I had issues with about finding the downbeat until much later in life. "Tollin' Bells" is one of the darkest, saddest blues songs ever. The rhythm section of "Bugsy" Maugh and Phillip Wilson are the tightest the Butterfield band ever had.

Nowadays, you can get The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw at a somewhat reduced rate on iTunes, if that's how you get your music. I may be doing that myself today with my Christmas iTunes gift certificate, and if I do that, I know I'll be singing "my baby don't have to work, she don't have to rob and steal" for the rest of the day.

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