Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Elektra Records Spotlight: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Mellow Down Easy and I Got My Mojo Working

Mellow Down Easy
I Got My Mojo Working
Day two at our look at Elektra Records. Yesterday we looked at the missed opportunity Elektra Records president, Jac Holzman, had in his hands when he released only one song by The Byrds...under the quizzically named The Beefeaters. Columbia Records came and stole the band away from his light grasp on what would become a hit machine and a hugely influential band. It took 11 months before Holzman would get back in the saddle with another release.

In October of 1965 Elektra released the first published recording of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The Chicago band had been turning heads in Chicago for about a year and Holzman and staff producer, Paul Rotchild, were eager to not let another buzz creating band slip away. It also bears noting that the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was a band of three white guys and two black guys. May not seem like a big deal today, but it was in 1965. It was downright unusual and even a little risky for a little known label to market them. Paul Butterfield was the frontman and harmonica player, Elvin Bishop on rhythm guitar, Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar, Jerome Arnold on bass and Sam Lay on drums. The latter two had done time in Howlin' Wolf's house band and thus had some serious street creditionals.

That first Elektra single for The Paul Butterfield Blues Band were two blues covers of Chess Recordings songs. The A-Side was Mellow Down Easy, a number originally recorded by Little Walter in 1954. The Flip-Side is the Muddy Waters standard, I Got My Mojo Working, first laid down in 1957. Sam Lay takes the vocal duties on The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's recording.

[Of note, also on that first 1965 album, was the first recording of Born In Chicago, which we featured just last week by a band called The Blue Beats. Check that out here]
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

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