Harpmeister/vocalist Butterfield made his biggest mark on rock music fronting his band that featured Mike Bloomfield and produced 1966’s influential East/West album. This nicely packaged pair of twofers mop up his later history as played out in the 70s on the Bearsville label, a haven for talents as disparate as Todd Rundgren and Jesse Winchester.
Unlike those artists, Butterfield wasn’t a songwriter, so the results obtained depended on finding musicians, writers and producers sympathetic to his style and talents. This he achieved with the band Better Days. The likes of Geoff Muldaur, Ronnie Barron and Amos Garrett proved admirable musical foils who could contribute to songs, vocals and instruments as required to create a laidback, Band-influenced sound appropriate to their Woodstock location.
Sadly the same cant be said of Put It In Your Ear and North South, solo efforts from 1975 and 1981 that are lamentable offerings. Ear’s sleeve is as poor as its contents, while North South, supervised by legendary soul producer Willie Dixon, casts Butterfield as an Al Green wannabe with dated synthesiser backing. To his credit, sleevenotes-writer Alan Robinson doesn’t attempt to pretend otherwise. Butterfield died 25 years ago; only one of these twofers stands up as any kind of legacy.