THE ORIGINAL BLUES PROJECT - Reunion In Central Park (1973)
One of the first album-oriented, "underground" groups in the United States, the Blues Project offered an electric brew of rock, blues, folk, pop, and even some jazz, classical, and psychedelia during their brief heyday in the mid-'60s. It's not quite accurate to categorize them as a blues-rock group, although they did plenty of that kind of material; they were more like a Jewish-American equivalent to British bands like the Yardbirds, who used a blues and R&B base to explore any music that interested them. Erratic songwriting talent and a lack of a truly outstanding vocalist prevented them from rising to the front line of '60s bands, but they recorded plenty of interesting material over the course of their first three albums, before the departure of their most creative members took its toll.
Considering the acrimony with which the original lineup had broken up six years earlier Tommy Flanders (who wasn't even here for this event) stomping out at the end of the group's beginning and Al Kooper cast out in an internal hijacking at the beginning of its end this ranks as one of the most artistically successful reunions in blues or rock. The participants are all on the same page and, to judge from the evidence of this recording, in the same groove from beginning to end. The rocking numbers like "You Can't Catch Me" work the best, but tracks like "Steve's Song" and "Louisiana Blues" are equally rewarding. If there were any personality conflicts, they don't show, and while Kooper and Danny Kalb are in the best position to shine, everyone acquits themselves well, and the quintet creates a truly long-lasting concert document of their work. Most important, the members seem to respect their own past and re-create it with spontaneity and energy. And the sound quality is first-rate as well.
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