Friday, April 4, 2014

# 44 Butterfield Blues Band Live at A. & R. Studios on WLPJ

    The success of any artist is a big major business venture. It's one thing to record an album, quite another to get the product promoted, and sold to the public. If you have a motivated label, they will do the manufacturing and distribution, but you also need a capable manager to secure the high profile gigs too. Then there are the producerslocal retailers, and a multitude of other talent involved in the whole process. However, for all artists the most important feature of the whole venture is the live performance. 

     By 1970, live broadcasts of musicians has become a staple of radio, FM and stereo sound isn't new either, but during the '60's all of these technologies are uniting into common features for anyone with a home radio. (It seems similar to the transition of regular analog television into digital high definition broadcasts.) 

    Part of the success of this transition is because of a couple of enterprising young men with a vision to record quality music. In 1958, Jack Arnold and Phil Ramone establish  A. & R. Recording Studios in Manhattan, New York City. (Ramone is an innovator! On Oct. 1st, 1982 the first compact disc is released, and so, on that date he releases a digital version of Billy Joel's 52nd Street to help promote the new Sony compact disc player being released in Japan.)

    During the sixties Ramone develops a reputation as a skilled sound engineer, and producer which attracts a really diverse collection of top recording artists to A. & R. StudiosThe list of people who use the state of the art facility is lengthy, and quite impressive. Everyone from Ray Charles, The Band,and Bob Dylan to Anne Murray, and Frank Sinatra want to reap the commercial benefits of Ramone's talent in the engineering booth.   

   So, as the Rock music trend grows, Ramone and his company team up with WLPJ FM to produce, and broadcast concerts live from A & R Studios.  Artists like the Allman Brothers,(another band inspired by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band), Procol Harum, Elton John, and Jimi Hendrix are some of the first to participate in the live simulcast concerts. Unfortunately, in spite of the popularity of the series, it proves financially unreliable for sponsors, and it's cancelled. 

    However, the Singer Sewing Machine Company rescues the series with an offer to act a the main sponsor. As unorthodox as the marketing strategy sounds today, the sewing machine company actually has a record department in most of their New York stores. In addition, as part of their promotion of the new series, Singer will offer a discount on the albums of the artist being featured that week. The very first band to appear on the new series in December of '70 is the Butterfield Blues Band who are promoting their Live album to Christmas shoppers. As a piece of trivia, all the Singer stores will offer fans the new double album the Butterfield Blues Band Live for $3.97, and all of his previous albums for $ 2.89, quite a deal!!

    Of course, the sound quality of the show is excellent, and the performances rival the ones on Live. Also, listen to George Davidson's replacement on drums, Dennis Whitted. Highlights of the show are Born Under a Bad Sign, and the outstanding harmonica solo on Everything's Gonna Be Alright.  

The Butterfield Blues Band: Live at the A&R Studios on WLPJ in New York City, December 1970.

1) Born Under a Bad Sign, 2) Play On, 3) Driftin’ and Driftin’, 4) The Boxer, 5) Everything’s

Gonna Be Alright, 5) Drown In My Own Tears (Gene Dinwiddie vocals), 6) Country Side, 7) Love March, 8) Back Together Again, 9) So Far, So Good.

Paul Butterfield: Harmonica & Vocals, David Sanborn:  Alto Saxophone, Gene Dinwiddie: Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Vocals, Dennis Whitted: Drums, Steve Madaio: Trumpet, Rod Hicks: Bass, Ralph Wash: Guitar, Trevor Lawerance: Baritone Saxophone



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